Vegan bacon, yes, you read that right.
I often hear from friends and family, “I could never go veggie, I would miss bacon too much,” or “Poor you, you’ll never eat bacon again.”
My favorite comment recently, a cousin said, whilst frying up a pan of pig bacon, “Wow, so going vegetarian is like a REAL commitment.” Haha!
I DO eat bacon, it’s just a veg kind of bacon. And I don’t feel like I’m missing out on bacon because I make this salty, smokey, maple-y treat and eat it quite often.
Why Vegan Bacon?
Maybe you’re bummed that the World Health Organization announced that bacon causes cancer and are “as big a cancer threat as cigarettes.” Maybe you have heard of veggie bacon and looking to try something new. Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about, but you’re already curious.
For whatever reason a person might not eat bacon, animal-rights reasons, health reasons, allergy reasons, carbon-footprint reasons, or anything else, I’d like to share this delicious alternative that I’ve been eating for years.
No, it doesn’t taste exactly like meat bacon. Not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here.
Buuuuuuut, if you are looking for a salty, smokey, chewy, maple-y strip of vegetable that is cholesterol-free and no animals were harmed in the making of…it’s pretty freaking awesome.
I mean, just look at it.
What Do You Make With Vegan Bacon?
The SKY IS THE LIMIT, people!
This vegan bacon is great with a morning tofu scramble; eat it on the side, or chop it up and cook it in the scramble itself.
Put it on pizza with mushrooms, onions, and spinach.
Dice it up into bacon bits for a salty salad topping.
Smoosh a little piece of avocado in a date, and wrap it with bacon for some vegan bacon wrapped dates.
Use chopped up bacon bits on potato skins or on baked potatoes with vegan sour cream and chives.
Vegan bacon bits on Fully-Loaded Sweet Potatoes.
I douse it with syrup and eat it with pancakes or waffles.
I chop it up and sprinkle it in my veggie chili.
Heck, I just keep it in a Mason jar and snack on it all day long.
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is.
Your Love Affair With Bacon Is Not Over Once You Go Veg!
Let’s be clear: this is eggplant.
Carved into strips with a vegetable peeler, but it is eggplant.
But then!! You toss together the brilliant flavors that make up all the bacon-y goodness into a smokey marinade. The eggplant saturates in this flavorful swirl overnight…
This is still eggplant, promise.
That’s not meat. Still eggplant.
And when you lay it out all gorgeous-like on the racks… still eggplant.
I know, I know. It really grossed me out too.
I mean, come on… HOW is this possible?
It goes into the dehydrator and dries overnight, and is still just marinated eggplant.
But the apparent fattiness, the marble, the TEXTURE????
I make this vegan bacon a lot, and every time I get to this point, and the strips are stretched out on the drying racks, my heart still skips a beat.
This IS eggplant, isn’t it? I remember slicing it up. Yes, it’s eggplant bacon, relax.
Then I run around the house screaming because I can’t believe how awesome it is.
You should store your dehydrated bacon strips in an airtight container. I use a Mason jar. If the bacon is exposed to humidity, they will soften, but you can always dehydrate them again.
And it gets better!!!
Maybe you don’t have a dehydrator, or maybe you think this dehydrated eggplant is too healthy to be a reasonable stand-in and certainly not worthy to don the name BACON.
Well, guess what? You can fry it too. Yep. In coconut oil.
Lots of oil, lots of SIZZLE, lots of your house filling up with that fried bacon smell. Look at it go.
I made that gif for you because I knew you wouldn’t believe me.
Ahhhh, can’t you just smell it through the screen?
It’s got the crispy parts, it’s got the chewy parts, it’s even got the burnt parts, and it’s so greasy!
A perfect bacon side to a vegan breakfast scramble.
I DON’T KNOW!!! It’s clearly magic at work. Dark magic, perhaps.
It’s perfect. The texture, saltiness, smokiness, crispiness, the melt-in-your-mouth appeal. All present.
While the dehydrator recipe is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing, frying these strips is a delicate matter. You have to watch this stuff or it will burn when you turn your back for a second.
Like burn, turn black, and taste like charcoal. So pay attention when you’re frying, son.
- 2 large eggplants, skinned
- ¼ cup tamari
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- small piece of red beet (for color)
- If you're frying it, you'll need coconut oil, refined or virgin, depends on if the coconut taste is something you like.
- Use your vegetable peeler like you are the carving station man at some vegetarian's wedding. Take long sawing strips of the eggplant using a surprising amount of pressure. You need to push down into the eggplant to get the nice thin/thick strips.
- Work your way around the eggplant, rotating it often, until you start hitting seeds. Don't keep peeling if there are seeds coming off into your strips.
- Put strips into a bowl.
- Put all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until it's a nice soft red marinade.
- Pour marinade over bowl of eggplant strips and toss the strips by hand until each piece has been coated through with the juices. (Do not wear your favorite yoga shirt, and don't stir near anything you love.)
- Push all the pieces to the bottom of the bowl and try to keep them all in the liquid.
- Cover the strips with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Lay strips out on dehydrating racks in single layer.
- Dehydrate at 110 degrees for 24 hours.
- Store in an airtight container, and enjoy alone or in other recipes.
- Scoop two big dollops of coconut oil into a pan, and let it melt on LOW heat.
- Add the slices of eggplant, and let cook slowly on low heat.
- Watch it carefully and turn as needed.
- Once it gets to the perfect color and crispness on both sides, get it out! Don't let it burn! There is a fine line between perfectly done and burnt.