Sweet and salty crisp vegan bacon made with eggplant. A plant-based alternative to bacon, no liquid smoke needed!
Eggplant is the new cauliflower. You heard it here first.
Versatility is definitely eggplants strong suit, it can be morphed into creamy goodness like in baba ganoush dip, or a meaty staple in a ratatouille stew. I have blended roasted eggplant into tomato soup to create creamy tomato soup and have used perfectly grilled slices of eggplant as the base for mini-goat cheese pizza. It is a way underused vegetable and also a little misunderstood.
We all know about eggplant parmesan, of course, but have you seen this Ottolenghi stuffed eggplant recipe or this recipe which I lovingly call eggplant crack? Eggplant is the perfect vegetable to add to a primarily plant-based diet, no, you won't be able to morph it into rice like our trusty cauliflower, but you can turn it into BACON! Seriously.
This sweet and spicy eggplant bacon reminds me of my moms perfectly cooked maple bacon that she prepares nearly every Sunday for her grandkids (they always get more than me, which is a very serious crime). Except no pigs were harmed in the making of this bacon ?
I tested this recipe about 47 times using just about every method imaginable. Here are the steps that I found to work best:
Perfect Eggplant Bacon
- Slice the eggplant in half legthwise and then in half again to create 4 “wedges”
- Slice the quarters into thin pieces. Not paper thin but about 1/8″ thick. I sliced the eggplant using a knife, a mandolin, and a vegetable peeler. The knife worked best for me. If the eggplant is too thin it disintegrates, if it's too thick it's soggy. I liked having just a thin strip of skin on the outer edge for extra crispiness.
- Fit two racks inside two baking sheets and place the eggplant strips on the rack. This rack method produces the crispiest bacon.
- Coat both sides with the smokey sauce and roast at 250° for one hour. If you don't care about crispy you can take the bacon out of the oven at 30 minutes, but that extra 30 minutes makes a big difference
- The sauce is a combination of smoked and hot paprika. If you can't find hot paprika use cayenne (but less of it), I used Monksweet sweetener in this recipe to balance the salt and smoke. This makes the recipe Keto and Paleo friendly.
- Allow to cool for several minutes before eating. The eggplant will crisp while it cools.
I tested the fry method as well, but I found that produced a much greasier end product. If time is a concern pan frying in a little bit of avocado oil will produce a quick, crispy product, but only coat the eggplant with smokey sauce on one side.
Salty and sweet this bacon has it all. Pile it into an EBLAT (eggplant bacon + lettuce + avocado + tomato) sandwich and you have a real winner.
Plants for the win, yet again.
(Note: I received free product from the folks over at Steviva to make this recipe, as always the opinions are my own)
Thanks for reading Abra's Kitchen! If you make this recipe tag #abraskitchen on Instagram 🙂
Sweet and Spicy Eggplant Bacon
Preheat oven to 250°, prepare two racks inside two baking sheets.
Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and then in half again to create quarters. Slice the quarters into thin slices. Not paper thin, about 1/8" thick. (1/2 a medium eggplant makes about 14 slices of bacon)
Whisk together all remaining ingredients until well combined
Place eggplant slices in a single layer on the racks. Brush with sauce on both sides
Bake in oven for 60 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking
Allow to cool before eating (eggplant will crisp when cooled)
Steviva Product Info:
The folks over at Steviva offers a line of natural sweeteners including the Monksweet that I used in this recipe.
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