If you visit my neighborhood, on any given day, I am easy to pick out of the crowd. I am the one wearing aviator sunglasses and pushing the stroller with a baguette sticking out of the diaper bag, which hangs on the back. Sometimes, much to the envy of other children cruising by in strollers, I let my daughter hold the baguette. She swings it wildy, like she is trying to clear the green monster, until we have scared a sufficient number of innocent people walking their dogs, then I give her a toy instead. I know some people say eating bread daily is a bad habit, but I disagree. A fresh slice of bread is a wonderful thing and can be enjoyed a myriad of ways. Plus, if you are pushing the stroller as much as I am these days, you are working off more than enough calories to justify a fresh loaf.
Last week, I was lured to our neighborhood bakery (which is amazing btw, and I will recommend to anyone who is curious) by the ambrosial smell of baking bread. This is a scent that I consider right up there with that of spring rain, newly mowed grass, or a freshly bathed infant. When I peered in the window loaves in all shapes and size were being set out on the wire racks, neatly sheafed in brown paper, waiting for customers to take their pick. Not wanting to waste a minute I wheeled right in for my daily dose and choose a loaf of ciabatta, which, for some reason, sounded particularly good that day. For lunch I simply toasted a slice and ate it with a layer of soft cheese topped with slices of tomato and a good crank of fresh pepper, making for a deliciously satisfying lunch on-the-go. Then, in the afternoon, I had a second slice, this time it was slathered with fresh nutella and sprinkled with sea salt. I'll admit that bread and nutella is one of my all time favorite treats, and, since I had walked over 30 blocks by 10am that morning, I felt I deserved it. Then, during naptime, I started think about what I could prepare for dinner.
When I opened the fridge I contemplated a few different angles for the remaining ciabtta. I could easily make garlic bread with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, but since I like to reserve that for emergencies I investigated more options. I flipped through my Giada cookbooks and she had several good ideas for appetizers and desserts with ciabatta, but not for a main course. Finally, I realized this was a great opportunity to make a riff on one of my most favorite sandwiches, the BLT. I have never met one person, vegetarians aside, who does not like a good BLT. I think it is essentially the ideal sandwich with the perfect balance of savory and sweet packed tightly between two halves of bread. The only problem for me is that I am not yet a convert to mayonaisse (though after reading this, there is hope for me), and I wanted to add more protein to the sandwich to make it a satisfying dinner.
After assessing the ingredients available in the kitchen I came up with the idea to make a B.E.A.L.T., that is, a bacon, egg, avocado, lettuce and tomato. I would substitute the mayonnaise for avocado and add an egg. Sandwiched between two slices of ciabatta this would be an ideal dinner sandwich, hearty, satisfying and packed with protein. Since it isn't a good idea to prepare things like fried eggs ahead of time, I assembled the ingredients and when dinner time came I set to work, quickly, while my husband bathed our daughter. Needless to say the assembly was simple with the only lengthy engagement being the egg-frying part. I toasted up slices of ciabatta, mashed the avocado gently with a fork, sliced the tomato and cooked the bacon (in the microwave) and then, after some stacking of ingredients, a sandwich was made. My husband was slightly skeptical of having this for dinner but was instantly sold upon first bite. The avocado turned out to be the perfect substitute for mayo, providing the right amount of moisture and taste against the toasted bread. The juicy tomato, sweet bacon and fresh egg were delicious flavors, all tempered nicely with a few leaves of peppery arugula. When we scraped our plates clean of the last few crumbs we both remarked that it was a great dinner sandwich, and might even be good for a weekend brunch. After dinner I washed the plates and tossed crumpled up paper sheaf in the trash. As I wiped the crumbs off the cutting board I started to daydream, already wondering what I would do with the fresh sourdough baguette I planned to get my hands on the next morning.
Naptime's B.E.A.L.T. - inspired by fresh bread
1 loaf fresh ciabatta
2 fresh eggs (plan for 1 per sandwich)
1 ripe Haas avocado
2 ripe tomatoes
6 strips of uncured bacon (plan for 3 strips per sandwich)
1 bunch washed arugula
Salt & Pepper
Yields 2 sandwiches - just double ingredients for more.
First, toast four slices of ciabatta and set aside. Then, open the avocado and remove the pit. Gently cut into four slices. With a fork, gently mash two slices onto two of the slices of bread. On both slices of bread cover the avocado with a few leaves of fresh arugula. Cut four fresh slices of tomato and lay two slices on top of each piece of bread with the arugula. On the two remaining slices of bread lay three strips of bacon per bread slice. Top the bacon with a freshly fried egg. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper. Press halves together so that the egg is sandwiched between the tomato and bacon. Enjoy!
Naptime Recipe Props: This is barely even a recipe but, trust me, it is so good. Making a sandwich is virtually effortless, but you want to make sure it is done correctly so things don't go horribly wrong. Feel free to make substitutions with this sandwich if you like, you could try prosciutto instead of bacon, or even add a slice of cheese.
Naptime Stopwatch: From start to finish the sandwich preparation took about 15 minutes. You can do most of things quickly and multi-task. Just make sure that you watch the egg carefully, you don't want it to fry for too long and get tough.
Naptime Reviews: I have not yet met a toddler who could fit her mouth around a sandwich. But, the components of this sandwich make for a wonderful dinner. I simply put slices of avocado, tomato, egg and bacon on her tray and she loved her meal.