I love bacon. I'm not alone in my devotion to its salty, crispy, smoky deliciousness. You can find an incredibly varied (and sometimes weird) breadth of foods that include bacon these days: chocolate bars, donuts, ice cream sundaes, jam, salt, mayonnaise, meatloaves, and old standbys like burgers and sandwiches. Wow! As much as I adore bacon, sometimes I crave a little of that bacony flavor in a healthier food choice. A couple of weeks ago I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Eggplant Bacon. Shut the front door! I love eggplant and I'm always on the lookout for a good new recipe. The recipe called for just three ingredients: eggplant, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. I found the flavor too salty and not very complex. Then I added a bit of brown sugar and maple flavoring, and that did the trick!
This stuff won't fool you into thinking you are eating real bacon, but it has a wonderful salty, smoky flavor and that tantalizing smell of maple. The eggplant "bacon" slices become fairly crisp after a couple of minutes out of the oven, and they are surprisingly satisfying. Eggplant Bacon would be great piled on whole grain bread with slices of heirloom tomato, some watercress, and a spread of ripe avocado. At least, I think so, because I ate all the Eggplant Bacon as is, and I loved it.
This recipe is easy, but is not a fix-it-and-forget-it recipe. The eggplant will scorch and become bitter in an instant, so you have to keep watch over it. You can double this recipe easily - just be sure to use two cookie sheets.
1 medium eggplant
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring (you can find it in the baking section of your grocery store)
Cut the eggplant into thin slices (1/8 inch or less) lengthwise. A mandolin slicer would be helpful, but not necessary if you have good knife skills. Then cut the slices in half, lengthwise. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mis soy sauce, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and maple flavoring. Set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place eggplant slices on paper in a single layer. Spray the eggplant with a light, even coating of cooking spray. Bake eggplant for about 8 minutes, until it begins to brown and dry out. Remove eggplant from the oven and turn oven down to 375 degrees. Brush the eggplant liberally with soy sauce mixture. Return eggplant to the oven and bake for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the eggplant bacon looks a dark brown color, but is not burned. Remove eggplant slices to a platter to cool a bit. I curled them up a bit as I placed them on the platter, to mimic the appearance of real bacon. Enjoy as is or add to sandwiches, salads, or veggies burgers.