Whatever reason you have for keeping meat out of your diet ― veganism, a vegetarian lifestyle, or taking on a healthy diet of some sort ― abstaining from bacon can be one of the trickiest challenges. No matter how much you don’t want to eat the porky, fatty meat, one smell of this breakfast staple can leave you craving it. And you’re not alone.
This addictive cured meat can be a hard thing to give We have a plant-based solution for your bacon cravings: eggplant bacon. This stuff will give you a taste of the real thing without having to break any promises you’ve made to yourself.
We found this eggplant bacon recipe in Laura Wright’s new cookbook, The First Mess Cookbook. Wright is also the author of the popular health food blog The First Mess. Folks, we are smitten. The recipe calls on the “meaty” quality of eggplant and adds a smoky maple flavor with the addition of paprika, miso, tamari and maple syrup.
While this recipe is a great meat-free alternative to bacon for vegetarians, we think it has universal appeal for those looking to eat a little healthier. Try this plant-based “bacon” in your next BLT, and you just might soon be converted.
Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright
serves 4 as a side
When you think about eggplant’s lush, meaty texture, this preparation seems like a natural progression. The flesh is quite absorbent, so it takes on the smoky-sweet lacquer here quite well. I prefer using this plant-based bacon for a BLT-style set-up because it’s naturally lighter and doesn’t steal the show from the other sandwich ingredients.
I leave the peel on for that distinctive chew and also because it helps hold the strips together. When you’re getting toward the end of the baking time, it’s important to keep an eye on the eggplant. It can go from perfect doneness to totally burned in seconds.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) gluten-free tamari soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) mellow or light miso
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Set a cooling rack on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Cut off both ends of the eggplant. Then, with the cut bottom end flat on the cutting board, cut the eggplant down the middle. Lay each half, cut side down, on the board, and slice into 1/4-inch (5 mm) strips.
- In a large colander, layer the eggplant strips, sprinkling liberally with sea salt as you go. After you finish the layering, let the eggplant sit for 15 minutes. I usually set the colander over a plate or in the sink to collect the liquid escaping the eggplant.
- Rinse the eggplant thoroughly. Towel-dry the pieces of eggplant, and arrange them on the rack-fitted baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, tamari, and miso. Brush half of this mixture onto the eggplant strips. Season the eggplant with black pepper.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the eggplant and use tongs to carefully flip over all the strips. Brush the remaining half of the oil and maple syrup mixture onto the exposed side of the eggplant. Season the eggplant with black pepper once more. Roast the eggplant for another 15 minutes or until you start seeing some crisped edges. Serve eggplant bacon hot.
Check out The First Mess Cookbook