Low-fat, low-cal BLT really should be TLT

The last of the heirloom tomatoes are ripening now, so this is the time to savor them. One of our favorite tomato dishes is simple and sublime - BLT sandwiches.

It’s hard to justify the fat and calories of a traditional BLT, so we headed to the test kitchen to make a bacon-lettuce-tomato combo that’s light, yet just as wonderful as you would expect. And that’s just what emerged.

The secret to our success is exactly what you would probably guess – turkey bacon. But not just any lame imitation bacon. Use gourmet-quality turkey bacon (it’s expensive, too, unfortunately), and you’ll end up with a low-fat sandwich that has only 231 calories.

We make peace with our more costly bacon realizing that if you aren’t a grow-your-own guy or gal, a good heirloom tomato can easily run $4 to $5 at a supermarket and only a bit less at the farmers’ market. You don’t want to muck it up with bacon slices that taste like plastic. And while we were experimenting, our lettuce and bread got elevated to a higher plane as well. The tart, fresh flavor of arugula holds it own with the other assertive ingredients in this sandwich, and the fiber in five-grain bread yells “healthy” with every bite.

So today’s Five-Grain Turkey BLTs with Heirlooms and Arugula gives you a way to combine old-style goodness with a few modern tricks for a healthy, yet absolutely delicious sandwich. For another wonderful BLT recipe – a BLT party dip – visit our website at Enjoy.

Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are mothers whose cookbook is called “Desperation Dinners.” Send tales of woe or success and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 or

Five-Grain Turkey BLTs with Heirlooms and Arugula

Yield: 4 servings (see Cook’s note). Start to finish: 20 minutes

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

8 slices (8 ounces) thick-sliced turkey bacon (see Cook’s note)

8 slices (4 ounces) five-grain loaf bread

4 thick slices ripe heirloom tomato (see Cook’s note)

4 teaspoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

4 ounces prewashed arugula leaves, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large (preferably 14-inch, see Cook’s note) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the bacon in the skillet, and cook until very crisp on both sides, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on bacon’s thickness. Turn frequently and remove to a plate lined with paper towels when done. (If the bacon sticks to the skillet, use a spatula to loosen it from the pan and add more oil if necessary.)

While the bacon cooks, lightly toast the bread slices in a toaster or toaster oven, and then set aside. Cut the tomato slices (unpeeled), and set aside.

Assemble the sandwiches: Spread a 1/2 teaspoon mayo for each sandwich, and layer each with tomato, arugula and bacon, cut to fit if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste. Cut sandwiches in half, if desired, and serve.

Cook’s note: For testing, we used Applegate Farms Turkey Bacon, and each thick slice is 1 ounce. Other brands can be used, but the slices may be thinner and cook faster. Pork bacon also can be used.

Heirloom tomatoes usually are available at farmers’ markets, in specialty groceries and most large supermarkets. Any variety of ripe tomatoes can be used.

If your skillet is not large enough to hold all of the bacon without overlapping slices, cook it in batches.

The size of this recipe is flexible, and you can make one sandwich at a time or as many as you need. Any extra turkey bacon can be refrigerated in a zipper-top bag for three days or frozen for up to one month.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 231 calories (26 percent from fat), 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 685 milligrams sodium