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 (any mushroom works)
2 tablespoons organic tamari
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Slice mushroom caps into 1/4″ slices (very thin). Once sliced, lay them out in a single layer onto a large plate or two.
In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together tamari, maple syrup, and paprika. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil until well combine. Toss mushroom slices in marinade. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Transfer slices to the parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and rotate slices. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until dark in color and crispy (they’ll crisp up more as they cool down). Careful not to burn, the mushrooms go from done to burnt in a minute.
Allow slices to cool on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Recipe by Mary Louis