I’m a sucker for a good BLT, and summertime is the perfect time to make them. It’s such a simple sandwich, but there may be nothing finer than a BLT on a warm, summer day, made with fresh tomatoes from the garden. (In our case, the tomatoes always come from someone else’s garden because I have a bit of a brown thumb.)
I found this twist on the traditional BLT in Fine Cooking magazine and my family was pretty happy that I did. These sandwiches were out of this world delicious, and a huge hit with my dinner table crowd. Well, except for Avery, who opted for turkey on bread (That’s it. Really. I just don’t get it.) instead. Her loss.
If we’re being technical here, this sandwich isn’t really a BLT. It’s a BSMT (Bacon, Spinach, Mozzarella, Tomato), but it highlights fresh summer produce just as perfectly as its simpler counterpart.
Bread-wise, whenever I’m using my panini press, I look for a hearty bread. I like one that can stand up to the heat and come out nice and crispy. This time, I chose an Oatmeal Bread.
If you don’t have a panini press, a grill pan would well too. Just weigh the sandwich down with another pan on top to get the grill lines, or you could just grill it up like a grilled cheese sandwich, you just won’t have the pretty grill lines on top.
I cooked up my bacon and saved a tablespoon of the bacon grease. Into the grease went a few cups of fresh spinach, which I cooked down quickly with a clove of minced garlic.
The spinach only takes about a minute to cook down, so once it’s wilted, remove it from the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn.
Once the spinach was done, it was time to build my sandwiches.
The spinach went down first, followed by the bacon, slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese, and then I finished up with the tomatoes.
I put the top slice on, brushed a little bit of olive oil onto both sides of the sandwiches, and then they took a ride on my panini press!
I was able to grill two sandwiches at a time, and each batch took about four minutes. I removed them from the press when the sandwiches were golden brown on top and bottom, and when the cheese was really ooey gooey melty.
I served them alongside a fresh summer fruit salad and they made for the perfect summer night dinner! The garlic laced spinach added so much flavor, and the salty bacon, fresh tomatoes, and melty Mozz just added to the yum factor. My husband took one bite and said, “These are special.”
They really were.
GRILLED MOZZARELLA AND SPINACH BLTS
Adapted from Fine Cooking
- 12 slices bacon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 cups lightly packed baby spinach, tough stems removed
- salt and pepper
- 8 slices hearty bread
- 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1 large tomato, cored and sliced thinly
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Cook the bacon until crisp and transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reserve 1 Tbsp. of the bacon fat.
- Return the pan with the bacon grease to the stove over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then add the baby spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a panini press according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Or, heat a nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium high heat.)
- As the grill is heating, prepare the sandwiches. Arrange some of the spinach on four slices of the bread. Top with the bacon, sliced Mozzarella, and tomato. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt, and put on the top pieces of bread. Brush the tops and bottoms of the sandwiches with a bit of olive oil.
- Put the sandwiches on the press, pull the top of the press down, and cook until they are nicely browned and crisp, and the cheese is gooey and melted, 3 to 6 minutes.
- (If using a grill pan or skillet instead, put a heavy pan on top of the sandwiches to press them down as they cook. Carefully flip the sandwiches once.)
- Carefully remove them from the press and serve.