For my take on Bacon-and-Cheese Beauties, I swapped the white bread for wheat, the American cheese for fresh mozzarella, and roasted slices of small, vine-ripened tomatoes. I also finished the dish off with some pesto, which is basically basil’s ultimate form. The resulting bacon and mozzarella sandwich takes a bit more work than Barbie’s original Beauties, but it’s worth the extra effort.
- 8 slices of bacon
- 6 or 7 small vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 4 slices of wheat bread
- 8 small slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 4 tablespoons of prepared pesto
- olive oil
Place bacon slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet and put into a cold oven. Set the oven temp to 400 and cook bacon until just crisp, for about 12-18 minutes depending on thickness. When it’s finished, transfer bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.
At the same time, arrange tomato slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add the tomatoes to the oven, roasting for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
When the other ingredients are done, set your oven to its lowest broiler setting and move the top rack to about 4 inches from the top. Arrange bread slices on a broiler pan, put them in the oven, and watch closely, cooking until bread is toasted on one side. Remove broiler pan from the oven and flip the bread, then top the non-toasted side with a layer of roasted tomato, two cheese slices, and two pieces of bacon. Return broiler pan to the oven and watch closely, cooking until cheese has slightly melted and bread is toasted around the edges.
Dilute pesto with a small amount of olive oil until it reaches a saucelike consistency (if necessary), and drizzle this mix over the Beauties. Serves 4.
-Inspired by Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook
My first impulse for updating this recipe was to substitute all the ingredients for things that suit my taste a little better, so in addition to roasting the tomatoes and changing up the cheese, I tried a version with brioche bread and prosciutto. I liked that better than Barbie’s Beauties, but the soft, buttery brioche didn’t toast as thoroughly as regular ol’ sandwich bread, which took the overall texture down a notch. And while prosciutto is always delicious, it didn’t stand out enough against the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes. I suspect that pancetta may have worked well as a Beauty topper, but finding it sliced rather than cubed can be hit or miss in my area so I just went back to bacon.
My husband gave this recipe a good review, though to him, the bacon and toast combo made it taste like a breakfast dish. I’m not much of a morning person, so I held off on adding an egg and declaring these full-on Breakfast Beauties.
- Since the Beauties finish off under the broiler, make sure the tomatoes and bacon are cooked to just under your preferred level of doneness.
- If there’s a commercial pesto that you like then feel free to use it, but personally, I’m not a fan of any of the pre-made stuff. I’d suggest making your own pesto before tackling this recipe.
- Alana and I love the flavor of those small campari tomatoes that come in a little plastic bin, but feel free to sub whatever you have on hand.
After eating both Barbie’s Beauties and my own first take on the concept, I have to admit that I wasn’t really digging this style of open-faced sandwich. Stuffing tomato and bacon into a more traditional grilled cheese sounded a lot easier than all that fiddling around with the broiler. Having said that, I’m glad I kept tinkering with the recipe. The smoke and crunch of the bacon complimented the other flavors and textures really well, and adding pesto gave the Beauties an extra pop of color and freshness.
Since the ingredients are things I usually tend to keep around, I could see myself cooking these again for a weekend lunch. I might also consider making appetizer-sized versions on thin slices of ciabatta bread.