Sub In Basil For A Caprese-Inspired BLT

There are few classic sandwiches more beloved than the BLT — and that's a fact. According to market research company YouGov, it ranks number six on a list of America's favorite sandwiches. Its simplicity — just three main ingredients between two pieces of bread — is part of what makes this sandwich so great. However, it could be argued that two of those ingredients do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to flavor. Both bacon and tomatoes add savory, salty, umami elements to the sandwich — while also offering a pleasant combination of crispy and tender textures. The lettuce, on the other hand, can be watery, wilted, adding little to the overall eating experience in terms of taste, texture, aroma, or nutritional value.

Fortunately, it's easy to swap out the lettuce in favor of something more flavorful — like basil. Next time you're making a BLT sandwich at home, try a BBT instead by subbing basil in place of the lettuce for a caprese-inspired delight.

How to make the best BBT and other BLT alternatives

It takes no additional time or effort to transform a soggy, bland BLT into a delicious BBT — simply layer in lots of basil leaves where you'd normally lay on a lettuce leaf or two. This is easiest to do with big basil leaves at the peak of summer. Make sure to thoroughly wash and dry the basil beforehand to avoid said soggy sandwich sadness. Do also keep in mind that basil has a stronger flavor than lettuce. You can stick with a plain mayonnaise spread to add moisture to the bread and keep your sandwich together, or you can experiment with a drizzle of olive oil, hummus, or balsamic vinegar.

You can also try swapping out other ingredients. For a summery, sweet alternative, you can replace your tomato sandwich slices with watermelon. If you're looking for a vegetarian version of the BBT, you can opt for cheese (such as mozzarella or feta) in place of bacon — while a grilled portobello mushroom or crispy fried seitan both make a great vegan option.

Basil and tomato: a match made in heaven

Even nature is in favor of having basil on your BLT since tomatoes and basil grow well together as companion plants. If you have a little space to grow a pair of plants, you can place your tomato and basil seeds close together and watch them thrive side-by-side until ready to be made into the BLT you never even knew to dream of. This is also a great way to make basil (which is generally more expensive than lettuce) more affordable. If you opt to grow basil, you can also avoid food waste since the leaves will stay alive longer on the plant than a cut head of lettuce would remain edible while in your refrigerator.

If you need any more reasons to substitute basil for lettuce on your sandwich, it's worth noting that basil is extremely nutritious. When comparing basil to lettuce, basil has a higher concentration of many important vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, and zinc. The flavors of tomato and basil in particular work to balance each other. Basil's bright peppery notes bring out the natural sugars of the tomato, blending umami, savory, and subtle sweetness in perfect harmony.