Jalapeno Popper with Eggplant Bacon
Now I know you're thinking ok great life story but can we get back to the subject of bacon?
Yes, yes we can....
So about this time last year my sorority hosted a Thanksgiving pot-luck and my friend Valentina (also known by her blog name The Baking Fairy) made these Jalapeño poppers and boy were they a hit. My sorority's Thanksgiving pot-luck for this year is tomorrow and it got me a little sentimental and reflective. And then I started thinking about how if everyone and their dog likes jalapeño poppers I should try to make them! (Again with the life stories I know! Don't worry the bacon is coming). Now vegan bacon is a struggle (finally we're getting to it). All the vegan bacon I've tried has been rather disappointing. Usually its got a cardboard texture with a pretty cardboardish taste and ugh. I just can't. Then I happened across a recipe for homemade vegan sausages wrapped in bacon (find it here). The bacon looked strangely real and it peaked my interest. I checked it out and the clouds parted and the heavens shone down.... eggplant. They had used eggplant! *cue brain explosion* It was genius. I had found the solution to my bacon dilemma at last. And so friends the jalapeño poppers were made. They were eaten. And it was glorious.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese adapted from Beard and Bonnet
Yields 10 poppers
5 jalapeños sliced in half with seeds removed
4 oz of softened vegan cream cheese (I used about half of an 8 oz tub of Tofutti's cream cheese and heated it in the microwave for about 5 seconds)
2 tbsp of vegan parmesan cheese*
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
a fresh eggplant pealed and cut in half length wise (you will probably only use half of the eggplant. Keep in mind that the longer the eggplant is the longer your bacon strips will be)
2 tbsp of liquid smoke - I used Colgin's Natural Mesquite (it's even clearly labeled as vegan)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar - you can add more sugar if you like your "bacon" sweet
1/2 salt or to taste
*You can make vegan parmesan at home by combining 1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds, 1/2 cup lightly salted cashews, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder in a food processor and pulsing until it forms a fine meal.
1. Begin by taking half of your eggplant and, from the flat side, cut thin slices (about 1/8 in or less). These slices will be rather wide so you can cut them in half as well to create more bacon like strips.
2. Once your strips are cut whisk together all remaining bacon ingredients into a bowl until combined.
3. Lay your eggplant strips in the bowl, moving them around so that they become coated in the marinade.
4. Allow eggplant strip to marinate for 1 hour.
5. Once the eggplant has finished marinating cook it in a lightly greased skillet or grill until both sides are crispy and brown (about 7 minutes on each side)
6. Preheat your oven to 400 and grease a baking pan.
7. Stir together cream cheese, parmesan, paprika and salt together until well combined.
8. Spoon your stuffing into each pepper. You can sprinkle a little extra parmesan on top if you desire.
9. Wrap your cooked eggplant bacon around the peppers. One strip for each pepper. If your strips are long you might be able to wrap your bacon around the pepper more than once. Secure the bacon with a toothpick.
10. Place poppers on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15minutes.