In terms of flavor and texture, it's hard to beat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Trouble is, it's not exactly filling.
I've always thought of the BLT as an air sandwich; it packs plenty of calories but demonstrates very little staying power. So here I've rejiggered the traditional recipe in ways that slim it down and bulk it up.
The best news, to start, is that a little bacon goes a long way. I've used just a slice per sandwich. Meanwhile, I've amped up the protein with breaded tilapia. Tilapia has a mild flavor with a firm texture, which keeps it from falling apart.
The tilapia is coated in flour that has been seasoned with smoked paprika. The crunchiness comes in when the fish is dipped in egg whites and coated in panko bread crumbs. The fish then is sauteed in a skillet and finished in the oven, a process requiring less oil than if it was cooked from start to finish on the stove.
I've flavored the mayo with lemon and fresh basil.
The standard lettuce of choice for a BLT is romaine, which I like for its crunch. Finally, I've sliced the pita pockets horizontally to form two thin rounds. This helps to reduce the usual amount of bread in a BLT.
"FRIED" FISH BLT PITAS
4 slices bacon
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
½ cup light mayonnaise
4 teaspoons lemon juice
4 small tilapia fillets (about 2 ½ ounces each)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 large egg whites
2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Four small whole wheat pita pockets, halved to form 8 rounds
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced ⅓ inch thick
2 large romaine lettuce leaves, halved crosswise
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a medium skillet over medium, cook the bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
In a small bowl, stir together the basil, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Set aside.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. On a sheet of kitchen parchment, combine the flour with the paprika. On a second sheet of parchment, spread the panko. In a shallow dish, lightly beat the egg whites. Coat the fish first in the flour mixture, then dip it in the egg whites, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the panko, making sure the fish is well coated.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil. Add the fish and cook until lightly browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the fish, add the remaining oil and cook until golden on the second side, about another 2 minutes.
Transfer the fillets to one end of the prepared baking sheet. Wrap the pita rounds in foil and place them at the other end of the baking sheet. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.
To serve, spread some of the basil mayonnaise on the cut sides of the pita rounds. Top 4 of the rounds with a piece of bacon, broken in half, then a piece of fish, followed by some sliced tomatoes, a piece of lettuce and the second pita round, mayonnaise side down.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 550 calories (280 calories from fat, 51 percent of total calories); 31g fat (7g saturated, 0g trans fats); 60mg cholesterol; 42g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 4g sugar; 4g protein; 890mg sodium.