While I was never much of a bacon eater back before giving up meat, there's something I just love about vegetarian "bacon." Whether they actually taste much like the real deal is up for debate. But what they do succeed at is adding umami (savory) and texture to an otherwise boring sandwich or veggie burger.
In previous years, veggie bacon was made from tempeh, dried coconut, and other ingredients. But recently, I've spotted a new trend: Eggplant Bacon. Once I tried it (first at Vermont's Pingala Cafe and later at Smorgasburg's Chickpea and Olive), it was something I knew I'd have to try and recreate.
This time of year seemed like exactly the right time. Eggplant is plentiful thanks in part to my weekly CSA share, not to mention a small plant that I've got growing in my tiny patch of green space out back. The eggplant bacon I put together is a good way of getting through a lot of the purple veggie. It's kind of hard not to just pop the slices in your mouth; if you can save a few they also taste great with lettuce, tomato, and mayo (regular or a vegan version) on toasted bread for an ELT (get it?!). We think this recipe is:
*A little addictive
Let us know what you think!
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
3 medium Japanese eggplant (the long kind)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
Olive oil spray
1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/8 thick strips.
2. Lay eggplant flat in a large glass baking dish (the kind you'd use for lasagna) and sprinkle with salt; allow it to sit for 10 minutes to draw out some of the moisture.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, soy sauce/tamari and liquid smoke. Pat eggplant dry and pour olive oil mixture on top of it, making sure each piece is submerged.
4. Let eggplant marinate for 20 minutes, flipping once so that both sides of each piece absorb the flavors. While slices are marinating, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Once 20 minutes has passed, remove eggplant from marinade and lay flat on baking dish. Discard excess marinade.
6. Place eggplant in the oven for 15 minutes, flip with a spatula and bake for 15 minutes on the other side. You'll want the slices to be softened and a little big crispy on the edges; watch carefully to make sure they don't burn—you may want to remove the thin slices a little early, and let the thicker slices cook a bit longer.
Try it and let us know what you think!