I never liked bacon. There was just something about the smell and the grease – which is apparently what draws most people to bacon in the first place, but it never took with me. But that is not the same for R. We were at my friends’ marathon watch party complete with mimosas, brunch, and of course, bacon. I could almost see the drool forming in his mouth. Our gracious host (before a few mimosas) said she found a recipe for eggplant bacon, and was going to make it for us. After a few mimosas, we all decided it seemed too difficult and just made the eggplant into babaganoush instead. But the thought of trying out a little eggplant bacon wasn’t lost on me, and I decided to try my hand at it.
The recipe my friend showed us at her party called for something called bacon salt – which I don’t have and didn’t bother looking for. I got the gist of the recipe, slice eggplant, add spices, and bake at a high heat. I thought I could figure that out.
What you’ll need:
- 2 small to medium eggplant
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 TBS maple syrup
- 2 TBS soy sauce
- 1 TBS olive oil
- spray oil for the baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 475. Now, as this was a trial and error, I tried to make the eggplant two ways – the first (method #1) was to bake, flip, bake, season and then return to the oven. That way left me with a ton of flavor, but not so crispy “bacon.” The second way (method #2) was to season first and then bake – which led to more crispy “bacon” but it was a little less flavorful. I’ll give you both options here and if you try your hand at it – I’d love to hear how it turns out!
Start by slicing the eggplant very thin – you could try to cut it into slices for a more authentic bacon experience – but circles worked just fine for me.
Whisk all the other ingredients together, and if you’re doing method #2 – brush the liquids on both sides of the eggplant – or for more flavor, dunk the eggplant into the mixture directly.
For both methods, place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Flip, and bake for another 6 minutes. At this point, if you haven’t already seasoned, add the seasoning now and place back in the oven. Keep a close eye on the eggplant as you cook it – there’s a fine line between crispy and burnt to a crisp. For extra crisp (and a much closer eye) for the last minute or two, turn on the broiler.
I was shocked with how delicious the results were. A little smokey, a little maple, and a little salty. Now I have to admit, the eggplant didn’t taste exactly like bacon. Because let’s be honest, this is not swimming in bacon fat, it will not taste exactly the same. But it was delicious nonetheless.
The eggplant didn’t last longer than 20 minutes after it came out of the oven…and even bacon-loving R was a fan. Whether we snacked on it plain or added to a “BLT” with avocado, it was delicious and one of those foods I’m still dreaming about days later and can’t wait to make again.
If you’re missing that bacon flavor, this is a good substitute without all the grease, fat and you know, animal.