As a vegetarian, there’s one thing, and one thing only, that I miss about bacon – BLT sandwiches. Just thinking about them makes me hungry. And that’s why a good recipe for meat-free bacon is an absolute must for me.
But why even call it bacon, if it’s not made of pork? That’s the question Matt asked a few days ago. It was more of a general question, as I often call my vegetarian creations by their meat-counterpart’s name. But the conversation was ignited by this recipe. My answer is simple – by calling something by its meat-counterpart’s name, is to simply let the consumer know what flavor profile they can expect. For instance, when I think of bacon, I think a savory, salty and smokey flavor with a hint of sweetness. When I think of BLT’s, I think of a this smoky-sweet flavor mixed with the freshness of the lettuce and tomato, the creamy richness of the mayo, and the satisfying texture of soft and chewy bread. And that’s a combination that, as a vegetarian, I refuse to miss out on. Therefore, I often enjoy meat-free versions like this one, and I have no shame in giving them the same name either.
This recipe has just five ingredients, all of which are whole and clean. Bonus, this simple and straight-forward recipe takes less than an hour, start to finish. I’ll quickly go over the health-supportive elements of this recipe and then I’ll get straight to the actual recipe.
Portobello Mushrooms are a health-hero. Because they are rich in potassium, portobellos help to regulate blood pressure, increase metabolism, and decrease the risk of a multitude of heath issues such as stroke, anxiety and kidney disorders. This variety of mushroom also provides copper, which helps the body to produce antioxidants and energy, and selenium, which helps to produce thyroid hormones and aids the immune system. Furthermore, mushrooms are naturally low in calories and fat, making them guilt-free and great for weight-loss.
Tamari is basically a higher quality version of soy sauce. In fact, I use organic tamari any time soy sauce is called for because a high-quality tamari is gluten-free and made with only water, fermented soy beans, salt and alcohol (to preserve freshness). My fave brand is San-J.
Maple Syrup is my go-to sweetener. Yes, make no mistake, maple syrup is still sugar. So moderation is key. But maple syrup is my choice because it has health supportive benefits that other natural sweeteners don’t have. It’s a source of antioxidants and essential minerals such as zinc, which supports immunity. The concentrations may be small, but small changes makes for big differences.
Paprika is a powerful spice, providing almost 10% of your daily value of vitamin A in 1/4 teaspoon, an antioxidant good for the eyes and that prevents cellular damage. Paprika is also a good source of iron, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E. Smoked paprika has a rich, smoky flavor. It’s great for adding deep, satisfying flavor without using meat or poultry.
Sweet & Smoky Vegan Portobello Bacon
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 50 minutes
3 large portobello mushroom caps
2 tablespoons organic tamari
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Slice mushroom caps into 1/2-3/4″ slices. If the slices are too thin, they’ll practically disappear when cooking (mushrooms shrink like crazy when cooked). Once sliced, lay them out in a single layer onto a large plate or two.
In a small bowl, whisk together tamari, maple syrup, and paprika. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil until well combine. Brush marinade onto mushroom slices until each one is fully coated. Flip and repeat with the other side of the mushroom slices. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Brush on another layer of marinade. Transfer slices to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and rotate slices. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until dark in color without burning.
Allow slices to cool for 5-10 minutes before handling.
Recipe by Mary Louis