One of the fine Vegan MoFo theme suggestions to come out of this year's Vida Vegan Con was Work With it Wednesday. The idea is to take a food you're not crazy about and give it another good try, be it from another perspective or with the help of a different recipe. I have come a long way from the picky kid who wouldn't eat tomato, bell pepper, or cabbage, but one foe remains: Eggplant.
Just look at these smug bastards.
But as RuPaul says, or would if she were participating in this year's Vegan MoFo, "Yooouuu'd better WORK..... with it." Eggplants, start your engines. And may the best aubergine win.
I will admit these beauties caught my eye at my local grocery store, which has the world's best produce section. They're all sassy and stripey! They look like eggplants I could maybe hang out with and get to know. Perhaps even... like? I picked three out and decided to make the only thing I knew I would like: crispy eggplant 'bacon', a component of the Caesar salad recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction
. Now I enjoy a good BLT (or, rather TLT, which I'll be talking about later on in MoFo), but I decided to try something a little different, inspired by the proliferation of food bowls in Portland, Oregon. They're crazy for bowls up there! You start with a grain, throw on some greens, some other veggies, some protein, some sauces, maybe some deep fried or raw stuff depending on how you swing, and BLAMMO, you've got yourself a delicious healthy meal that probably cost you $2 because Portland is ridiculous like that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the BLT bowl.
What would be the best translation of sandwich bread to a BLT bowl? It needs to be homey, easy, and all-American, so naturally Bianca Phillips' cheesy tempeh bacon grits from Cookin' Crunk
fit the bill. I omitted the bacon from Bianca's recipe because the bacon in this instance was going on top!I added some baby greens and some chopped tomato to my eggplant
, and a little hot sauce because I couldn't resist, and voila. The BLT bowl was born.
Guys, I'm sorry. I gave it the ol' college try, but I am still not a big fan of eggplant. Individually, these ingredients were delicious (especially the grits, of which I had plenty left over), but together, my grand 'bowl' plan just didn't come together to form a delicious whole. But hey, that's okay- that's what trying something is all about!
I'd like to take this moment to address eggplant directly: eggplant, you are a beautiful and unique plant. Although we didn't really hit it off, you have plenty of fans and I know you will be just fine. Now sashay away.