Back in “the day” (whatever that means!) when I was a hose-‘n-pumps corporate chick in Downtown Providence, RI, I used to take out the most awesome sandwiches from this little place called Barclay’s Gourmet on Weybosset Street. They were among the earliest adopters of Boar’s Head provisions and they used fresh breads, great cheeses and good quality veggies on their creative sandwiches. One of my faves was the “BLTA” — you know what the B, L and T stand for, but the A was the genius addition of avocado.

These California BLTs bring back memories of the early 90s: standing behind the same giant, buff attorney every day in line at Barclay’s, tall white cans of hair spray, endless blind dates, getting my sister’s Maxima stolen from Canal Street and sitting at my desk with a BLTA reading Barbara Lippert’s Adweek columns. Good times.

The difference is that nowadays when I make them, I have to feed my own giant, buff guys; they are the ones going out on dates; I can sit at my desk and Barbara Lippert’s column magically appears on my computer screen…and best of all, I haven’t lost any more of my sister’s cars since then.

These BLTs are a family favorite. But let me tell you, when I make bacon, I have to make bacon! I’m talkin’ three pounds! And if I made more, these oinkers would eat all that too! Years ago, I discovered the secret of cooking bacon in the convection oven, the benefits being you can get it all done at once, plus the bacon comes out flat. I sometimes make these for dinner on nights when we’ve got a staggered eating schedule — the components last well, and the guys can toast up a couple pieces of bread when they’re ready to build their own sandwiches.

All these years later, I still think adding the A is brilliant for a contrast in texture and flavor, and I’m heartened that most of my spawns enthusiastically agree.

What’s your go-to dinner on nights when your family is all over the place?

California BLTs

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home, ©2006


  • 6 thick-cut slices smoked bacon
  • 4 slices good white bread, cut ½-inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
  • 4 to 8 tender Boston Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and spun very dry
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 large ripe tomato, sliced ½-inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a baking wire rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the rack in a single layer. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

2. Toast the bread slices. Place 2 slices on a cutting board. Spread each slice with about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Cover the slices with a layer of lettuce. Peel the avocado and slice it ½-inch thick. Toss the avocado slices gently with the lemon juice, and arrange on top of the lettuce leaves. Place 3 slices of bacon on top of each sandwich and then add a layer of tomato slices on top of the bacon. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

3. Spread each of the remaining 2 slices of toasted bread with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and place, mayonnaise side down, on the sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.

Makes 2 sandwiches

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