Bacon wrapped dates are great bite-sized appetizer; the perfect blend of sweet, smoky, and salty, and welcome at any party. In thinking about how to create a vegan version of bacon wrapped dates, I turned to Isa Chandra’s eggplant bacon technique for inspiration. Baking marinated eggplant slices at a high heat yields a perfectly greasy and smoky bacon alternative that is still flexible enough to wrap around dates. Slicing the eggplant very thinly also allows us to maximize the ratio of the crispy browned exterior to soft interior.
- 12 pitted dates
- 1 eggplant, ends trimmed
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Heat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/3 cm (about 1/8 inch) thick pieces. Don’t worry if you end up with some irregular slices, these should also work fine for wrapping the dates.
- Place the eggplant slices on the baking tray and drizzle evenly with 3 to 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Then bake in the oven for about 8 minutes. The eggplant should be starting to brown in some places.
- Then flip the slices and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the eggplant is browned, but not burned. Pay special attention at this stage if your pieces are irregularly shaped, because thinner slices will brown and burn faster than thicker slices. The reason we want to avoid burned, crispy eggplant, is because it will crack once it comes to wrapping the dates. If you notice some of your eggplant slices browning faster, just remove them from the oven individually and place them on a plate.
- While you wait for the eggplant to bake, mix together the soy sauce and liquid smoke in a small bowl.
- Once the eggplant is finished baking, take out the baking tray and lower the oven temperature to 175°C. Working one at a time, submerge the eggplant slices in the soy sauce mixture and put them back on the baking tray.
- Now begin wrapping the dates: Place a date at the base of an eggplant strip and roll up, securing with a toothpick. Then bake for another 3 minutes and serve.