Now, I know all of the bacon lovers out there are cringing right now. But hear me out! Eggplant is often used in different cuisines for a supplement for meat. Eggplant Rollatini, Eggplant Parmesan (the most common I imagine) just to name a few. So why not use eggplant instead of bacon as well ?
The first time I ever experimented with this recipe is when I started out as a Personal Chef, and my client was a low-glycemic raw vegan. (Yikes!) We were using holistic nutrition to reverse her onset Dimentia that was caused by her Diabetes medication. Horrible, I know. “Let food be thy medicine” is the most direct way that I can get my point across here without going off on a tangent about poor nutrition practices and the extreme negative effects that they have on the body. So I digress. Moving on!
So the first time I made this recipe it was completely raw. I used it to create a raw “BLT” because let’s be real, she didn’t develop Type 2 diabetes by following a strict and nutritious diet. So to appeal to her interests, I always tried to create dishes that were renditions of comfort food classics. Thus, the BLT. But in this instance, the eggplant had to be dehydrated for 10 hours. We’re not going to use a dehydrator here, just your everyday accessible oven. But if you want to use a dehydrator have at it.
Now, there are many versions of vegan bacon that I am familiar with, but this is my all time favorite. Eggplant has a somewhat “meaty” texture, and takes very well to whatever flavors you choose to marinate it in. As you would guess, this time we’re going for a savory, but a little bit sweet, and very smokey flavor. Like bacon! Duh.
Alright, so let’s get started.
We’re going to begin by taking an……eggplant! And slicing it into 1/6″ slices. I suggest using a mandolin, I always do for this sort of thing. If you’re incredibly confident in your knife skills, don’t have a mandolin, or are scared of knicking the tips of your fingers as you slice (it happens to the best of us) then don’t use one. But I think that it produces the absolute best result. Now, once your eggplant is all sliced up (I only do half of the eggplant. Feel free to do the whole thing, but since I only plan to feed myself there’s no point in making excess.) take those slices, place them in a colainder in the sink, and salt the slices evenly. Leave them for about an hour so the salt can extract the water from the eggplant. This will take about an hour. Once the time has passed and the slices are covered in little drops of moisture (mwahaha moist) you can remove them and pat them dry. Then we get to the fun part! I think so anyway. Marinading! (I tried to think of a good pun about marinating too long about your marinade, but it’s probably just better that I don’t. I want you to keep reading. But the intention was there.)
The marinade I chose consists of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, paprika, ground chipotle peppers, olive oil, and a little dash of smoked alder salt that I had sitting around the house. If you don’t have that, use smoked paprika instead. The chipotles give off a bit of a smokey hue as well. But you want more smoke than that. All of the smoke!!!!! So whisk all of that goodness together, drop in your slices. Get your hands in there and really make sure that they’re all evenly slathered (I love that word. Slather.) in the marinade, and leave them for about an another air to really soak it all in. (I know, more waiting. This gives you time to think about what to do with your bacon; or anything else really. I’m not the boss of you.)
So now it’s been about an hour. Whatever you decided to do within that hour is none of my business. It’s time to preheat the oven. Let’s set it to 250oF. Now, take a baking sheet and line it with some baking paper. Or foil. Or don’t even line it. But then you have to scrub the baking sheet later. So I suggest that you line it. Then take a baking grid (roasting rack, whatever you want to call it, we’re not going to delve into semantics here) and place that atop the lined sheet. Then you can start laying your slices out on the rack. You don’t want to overcrowd the rack, or cause too much overlapping. But as the slices dry they will shrink in size, so you have a little extra leeway with the space. A like so.
We’re almost done!!! Sort of. Now, plop those babies in the oven and seal it up. You’re going to leave them in there for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you like your bacon a bit crispier you can leave them in there for longer. But at least check on them at this point to see how they’re coming along. If you like what you see, then it’s time to take them out, let them cool, and devour them however you see fit. It’s your bacon, and you can have it however you want it!
And there you have it. Smokey, salty, sweet, meat-free bacon. Low in cholesteral, high in flavor. Omnomnomnom.
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
- Slice eggplant in 1/6″ slices using a mandoline, place slices into a colander, salt evenly and let sit for an hour.
- Remove slices, patting them dry using a paper towel or wash cloth.
- Whisk together 1/4 cup water, brown sugar, olive oil, tamari, vinegar, chipotle pepper, and paprika until mixed evenly.
- Submerge slices into marinade mixture, coating all of the slices evenly.
- Let sit for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 250.
- Line a baking sheet, place baking grid over the sheet. Lay out the slices close together without overcrowding the baking grid.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Cool and enjoy!