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Tomatoes

From BLT sandwiches to salads and beyond, fresh garden-grown tomatoes star in a variety of dishes.

As a little girl on a very long road trip with my family one summer, my senses were awakened to the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. At every lunch spot between San Francisco and Los Angeles, including two days at Disneyland where hamburgers and foot-long hotdogs abound, nothing less than a BLT would do for me.

The experience didn’t weary me of this wonderful marriage of flavor and texture. Indeed, the melding is impossible to improve upon, especially when the tomatoes have come straight from a summer garden.

Of course, my cherished and classic BLT is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to a marrying of those three flavors and textures: crispy, smokey bacon, crunchy lettuce and juicy back-yard ripened tomatoes.

BLT grinder: Slather a hearty piece of toast with mayonnaise, then add a layer of crispy bacon slices and a couple slices of a smokey provolone cheese (or a nutty Jarlsberg) then broil. Now add some freshly sliced tomato, red onion slices, lettuce and a top slice of toast that’s been slathered with more mayonnaise.

BLT tossed green: Just chop up all the usual suspects for a classic BLT sandwich and throw them into a salad bowl, along with some shredded cheese, hearty croutons and diced red or sweet onion. Toss with a creamy-yet-zesty dressing.

BLT roll-ups: Combine a bit of softened cream cheese with some mayonnaise and spread generously on a flour tortilla. Now layer on the crispy bacon slices, chopped tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes) and chopped lettuce. Drizzle with a vinaigrette and then roll the tortilla firmly around the filling. Slice the roll into three or four servings.

BLT with a slathering of mustardy aioli sauce: Instead of just plain mayonnaise, prepare a batch of Quick Aioli with Stone Ground Mustard (recipe follows) when preparing your BLT.

BLT baguette style: Slice a baguette open lengthwise and brush the cut side of the bread with olive oil. Broil or grill until lightly toasted. Spread the inside of the baguette with pesto, then layer sliced tomatoes, crispy bacon slices, sliced fresh mozzarella, mixed greens or arugula, and salt and pepper to taste. (Optional suggestion: slather with some of the Quick Aioli with Stone Ground Mustard (recipe follows).

Of course, beyond a classic BLT, and beyond BEYOND the classic BLT spinoffs there’s still a lot of backyard ripened tomatoes out there just hankering to put a smile on your face for the rest of summer. I hope that the recipes that follow, incite your own imagination into over-drive.

Feeling hungry?

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Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com or find additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.

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