A BLT-Inspired Chicken Dish

The bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is such a classic, it’s best known by its acronym.

The tasty flavors of a BLT aren’t limited to a sandwich, however — they’re easily incorporated into a hearty and filling main course.

History of the BLT

The beauty of a BLT is its simplicity: crisp bacon, iceberg lettuce, and juicy tomatoes. Layered between toasted white bread with creamy mayonnaise, these ingredients create a sandwich that’s satisfying in texture, crunch, and taste.

The BLT is a spinoff of the club sandwich, which first appeared in the 1890s and included meat, lettuce and tomato.

References to bacon and tomato sandwiches began appearing in American cookbooks in the 1920s. The arrival of mass-produced sliced bread in 1928 helped make sandwiches a quick and easy meal.

The name BLT was used in print as early as 1950, but wasn’t widely used until the 1970s. Author John Mariani, in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, suggests that BLT was a shorthand used by servers and cooks before eventually becoming common vernacular.

The BLT has evolved over time — there’s the BELT, which features egg, and the BALT, with avocado — but the original sandwich remains a favorite.

Transforming the BLT into a Main Course

It’s hard to improve on the BLT, but its mix of sweet tomatoes and salty bacon combines nicely with chicken to create a satisfying dinner.

It takes just a few substitutions: beefsteak tomato is switched out for smaller cherry tomatoes, while leafy dark greens are substituted for iceberg lettuce. A healthy grain such as quinoa or brown rice takes the place of white bread.

Recipes

A BLT-inspired chicken dinner comes together with basic ingredients. You can vary them depending on preference:

  • Bacon, cut into small slices. Try maple, smoked, or turkey bacon.
  • Chicken breasts. Thighs or legs can be used, but adjust cooking time.
  • Baby spinach, kale, or escarole.
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved.
  • Quinoa, rice, couscous, or other grain.
  • Seasonings such as salt, pepper, and garlic.

Clean Food Crush has a BLT Skillet Dinner recipe topped with avocado, green onion, and chili peppers. Here’s a summary of the steps for preparing this dish (visit the page for full instructions):

  • Slice bacon into small pieces and cook over medium heat to desired crispness. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  • Cook chicken in the same skillet, about 5-6 minutes until juices run clear. Remove, season, and put aside.
  • Cook minced garlic cloves in the same skillet for 1 minute.
  • Add cooked quinoa or rice, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and bacon. Stir until spinach is wilted, and return the chicken to the pan.
  • Add toppings if desired.

Recipe Variations

If you enjoy the smoothness of risotto, try this Chicken BLT Skillet. It uses instant brown rice and cream of bacon soup for creaminess.

Whole wheat pasta can be used instead of rice. The BLT Pasta Skillet is finished in the oven to melt the cheese.

If the idea of a BELT piques your appetite, make egg the featured protein instead of chicken. Savory garlic rice is topped with bacon, spinach, avocado, and a fried egg in this BLT Rice Bowl.

Lettuce is the accompaniment instead of grains in a Chicken BLT Salad. This main course features panko-crusted chicken, buttermilk dressing, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, and, of course, bacon.

There’s something familiar and comforting about a BLT. Whether you’re looking for a new way to serve chicken or simply enjoy the flavors of this iconic sandwich, use the BLT to inspire your next dinner.

Images: There is no exact image match for this dish so I suggest a BLT for the main photo:

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