If you are following a vegetarian lifestyle, the smell of bacon can make it difficult, as you suddenly then get the craving for this addictive tasty meat. This stuff will give you a taste of the real thing without ruining your diet. The secret ingredient is eggplant!
This recipe comes from The First Mess Cookbook written by Laura Wright. 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, it can be appealling for those looking to eat a little healthier.
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.
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
Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Set a cooling rack on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Rinse the eggplant thoroughly. Towel-dry the pieces of eggplant, and arrange them on the rack-fitted baking sheet.
5. 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.
6. 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.