Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Eggplant "Bacon" - Oh Boy!

Dear Folks,

My eggplants are really producing nicely, particularly my Listarda (Listada De Gandia) and I decided to do another batch of "Bacon" using a marinade and slices of this gorgeous fruit. Yes I know we call it a vegetable but it is really a fruit.

Anyway, I made some "eggplant bacon" a while back and I loved the taste but I had inconsistent 'doneness' issues with the center being soft while the outside crispy. So re-reading several recipes on line, I lowered the oven temp and got a much better result. BIG tip here, watch them when they are baking, you want crisp but not burnt and you do HAVE to turn them halfway through.

Some recipes note using them as dippers which I think would be good, but hey, we are talking "Bacon" here so BLT and Grilled/Melted Cheese sandwiches were what I wanted.

First the Marinade and it can be refrigerated and used as needed. There are several variations for this marinade around and I liked this combination. You can use avocado oil in place of the olive oil.

Eggplant "Bacon" Marinade
Vegan, Vegetarian and Omnivore friendly

1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) soy
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) liquid Hickory Smoke

Eggplant "Bacon"

Optional Cracked Black Pepper

Use a mandolin if you have it to make the slices of eggplant even. I do not peel these tender heirloom varieties of eggplant.  You want about bacon-type thickness for the slices.

Have a ziplock bag ready. A nice way to do this is to open the bag and tuck into a mug with the top folded down over the sides creating a "stand" for the bag.

Pour the marinade into the bag.

Cut the stem end off the eggplant. Slice a small piece off the "round" sides of the eggplant.

Slice the eggplant an immediately put the slices in the bag. Zip closed and gently move the slices around to coat and lay the bag on a flat counter. Set your timer for 30 minutes and turn the bag once half way through.

Meanwhile get your pan and oven ready. Pre-heat oven to 300 - 325. I did 325 and may try 300 next time. Your first batch will be a test for your oven and what works to create nice crispy "bacon" without burning. I have to say even the "charred" pieces were delicious.

Cover your cookie sheet or large pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Lay the eggplant strips out on the pan. They can be very closed together but not overlapping. They will shrink a bit. If you like you can sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

Flip the eggplant after 20-22 minutes and return to oven. Overall cooking time will range from 40-50 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and either use immediately or cool and wrap up in the aluminum foil you baked them on and refrigerate. I had to wait until the next day to use and they were just fine and still nice and crispy after being in the refrigerator.

A couple of days ago I harvested a bunch of mixed greens from the garden (sweet potato, roselle and Egyptian Spinach, leaves along with some purslane and basil, and I'itoi onion tops. I used some of the leaves for the BLT.

Now to assemble the sandwiches - BLT with avocado and a melty swiss cheese, "bacon" with some basil leaves.  Both sandwiches on a multi-grain whole wheat toast.  I do not show it but I put some mayo on the BLT.

I literally could not wait to assemble the BLT with Avocado.  I opted to spread the avocado on one side of the toast. On the other, you can't see it, I spread some mayo, the slices of tomato, sprinkle with a bit of salt, then some of the "bacon" greens and more "bacon" - of course, and closed the sandwich up. 

Next the Melty Swiss Cheese, "Bacon" with basil leaves.

Several years ago I started making grilled cheese sandwiches with grilled eggplant and sweet peppers adding fresh basil leaves in the mix.  For these sandwiches I toasted the bread ahead of time.

It is important to layer the cheese between each of the other ingredients.  Here I used Swiss. I have used Provolone, Swiss, White Cheddar and Mozzarella depending on what I have on hand and my mood - maybe even a mix.  After assembling, I pop in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds to melt the cheese.

So, this. . .

To THESE . . .

Have you made eggplant "Bacon"?  Or other vegetable "bacons"?  How have you used the "Bacon" or how would you use it?

I think the next batch(es) I make I need to make extra and keep some for crumbling on salads or as a garnish on soups.  Like my "Creamy Potato + Vegetable Soups".

Have a great time in the kitchen with your garden bounty!

Watch for my November Planting tips in another post.

You can find my books and calendars at Amazon or my publishers site.  Check the sidebar here on the blog.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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