I have a question about the recipe "Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs" from em-i-lis. If you leave out the bacon (vegetarian), is there something to substitute, or will it be good anyway?
Probably be good anyway.
But if you're looking for a stand-in, smoked paprika would be an appropriate (albeit obvious) choice. But I might take a different direction; toasted and ground caraway or cumin seed (both equally compatible with potatoes and cheese).
The bacon is included for the balance it will add for its saltiness. I do not see how an anise-liquorice like flavour would substitute (cummin & Caraway).
Perhaps you cold try crispy-fried salted carrot slices- I know of a person who eats these as a bacon substitute sand they are not too bad a replacement.
Oberstdackel: I meant one or the other (not both). I say cumin seed because it does have a smoky flavor when it is freshly toasted and ground. And caraway, though it does have a very slight anise flavor, it also has a slight smokiness when toasted. Of course neither will "replace" or "substitute" bacon (nothing does, no matter what anybody says), but it would be an interesting "stand-in". And for added saltiness, you could just add a pinch of salt to taste, but Gruyere has a good amount on its own. Honestly, I think the bacon here serves more as a textural component rather than lending a big "punch" of pork flavor.
Awesome idea with the fried carrot by the way. I like that; sweetness, texture, saltiness.