This is my hands-down favorite BLT. It combines the flavors of a classic (juicy tomato, crisp bacon, peppery arugula, creamy mayonnaise) with the favors of a perfect tuna Niçoise (seared tuna, tapenade, red onion, hard-cooked egg) to create a flavorful and colorful sandwich. It’s been on the menu at the BLT Fish Shack in New York since we opened, and it’s still my favorite item to order whenever I’m there.
1½ pounds yellowfin tuna, cut into 12 slices about ⅓-inch thick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon chopped garlic
1 large bunch arugula, tough stems removed (about 2 cups)
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup black olive tapenade
1 loaf rustic Italian bread, cut into twelve
½-inch-thick diagonal slices, toasted
12 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cooked until crisp
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cut into thin slices with a vegetable peeler or a mandoline
1 ripe avocado, preferably Hass, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, tough stems removed
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high. Sprinkle the tuna on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the tuna on the pan or grill rack and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until rare to medium-rare, depending on your preference. Set the tuna aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the arugula and toss well.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread some mayonnaise and tapenade on each slice of bread. Divide the bacon, onion, tomatoes, eggs, cheese, and avocado among half of the slices. Top with the tuna, the basil, and the arugula salad. Cover with the remaining bread.
Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.
Chef’s Tip: To make these sandwiches easier to eat, wrap them in butcher paper or waxed paper. For a change, substitute pesto for the tapenade.