I recently served food at a family party to celebrate granddaughter Bella’s 6th birthday. My theme was “finger foods”, which was a good idea for the outdoor party. Some of the foods I made smaller, to make them more appealing to the kids’ appetites. But to be honest, the kids rarely eat much at these parties; the adults have more fun tasting and testing than the kids do.
The most popular nibble was one we almost forgot to serve! Daughter Emily and I assembled them under the canopy right before the party, then they put them into the fridge that my son Jdawg keeps in his garage for beverages. Halfway through our picnic I finally noticed they were missing and they were rescued from the fridge and served around.
Sister Linda immediately announced “you are going to have to make these again!” Everyone loved the simplicity of a cherry tomato made into a BLT. We hollowed them out, poured in a teaspoon of homemade thousand island dressing, then stuffed in a piece of crispy fried bacon and a spinach leaf.
The appetizer was cute as well as tasty. We could have used lettuce but I decided on baby spinach since the leaves were smaller and easier to just pluck and roll.
Frying the bacon the previous day, I did some under my breath cursing at my P.S.’s passion for thick cut bacon. I wanted the bacon to be crispy and it takes about 3 hours to fry up that thick cut bacon I’d already cut up into 1 ½ inch pieces before putting into a large skillet. Well maybe it wasn’t 3 hours, but it felt like it. I had a lot of turning and moving around to do with those thick pieces until they were all equally browned and crispy.
Bacon done and stored away in the fridge in a covered container, I mixed up the Thousand Island dressing. I’d never made it before but found it on the Kitchen Treaty site and was amazed it was so easy. With very few ingredients, and all I usually have on hand anyway, I had a very good replica of a bottled dressing I used to adore. That is, back when I bought dressing, years ago, before I started making my own vinaigrettes and dressings.
Again stowing it in the fridge in a covered container, I was ready for assembling the little BLTs at the picnic the next day. Don’t you love make ahead foods? Most of this party was simply made ahead and assembled at the last minute. I’ll have to tell you about more of the fun foods I made for that party in future posts.
So, picnic time. Emily and I did an assembly line. She sliced the tops off the cherry tomatoes, then I used a small melon baller to scoop the insides out. Next I put a teaspoon of Thousand Island dressing into each cherry tomato, again using the scoop. Emily rolled a piece of baby spinach and tucked it into the tomato, then I tucked in a piece of bacon. Done!
After we made all of the cherry tomatoes into little BLTs, we placed them on some ruffled lettuce and slipped them into the fridge. And there they sat patiently until I remembered them a little late. But once found, they were welcomed with a happy buzz. Bacon is always a crowd favorite in our family, no matter what I manage to tuck it into. The Thousand Island dressing had a very nice zip that brought the whole appetizer together in a burst of flavors.
I confess that I agree with Linda, I must make them again. Like for a meal so my P.S. and I can eat a dozen and be happy. Quick, while cherry tomatoes are still in season!
A final tip: as we made the little BLTs, we placed them on curly lettuce in one of the disposable metal pans I’d bought at the dollar store. They came with plastic lids which was super handy to serve all of the picnic foods and protect them from flies and buzzing things. I served most of the finger foods in those pans and my glass serving dishes were saved for indoor dining.
Cherry Tomato BLTs
Cherry Tomatoes (we used 2 boxes for a total of about 50)
Fresh Baby Spinach
½ package thick cut bacon
1 recipe Thousand Island dressing (below)
Cut the package of bacon in half, then cut the half into thirds. Your pieces should be about 2” long to start. Place them all over the bottom of a large skillet and fry until brown and crispy. You’ll need to turn them often and remove the pieces as they are done. Place on paper toweling and refrigerate covered until used.
Mix up the Thousand Island dressing and store in the fridge, covered, until used.
Cut a slice off the top of the cherry tomatoes. Using a melon baller, remove the insides of the tomatoes.
Using the melon baller, put about a teaspoon of Thousand Island dressing in each tomato.
Roll up one spinach leaf and put it into the tomato. Slide in a piece of bacon and arrange on a serving plate covered with lettuce.
Thousand Island Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use plain yogurt, Greek yogurt works as well)
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon white onion, finely minced (I used 1 teaspoon onion powder)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 dash black pepper