Rustic Bread & Eggplant Lasagna
My husband and I have been watching The Sopranos recently (yes, I’m apparently 10 years behind the curve here), and I can only listen to the characters talk about manicotti and baked ziti so many times before I get a serious craving for some Italian food. It got me thinking to a public television cooking show I saw a while ago, Lidia’s Italy. I remember she made a lasagna that used bread instead of noodles, and it struck me as brilliant.
I know making pasta isn’t hard, but there’s something about boiling lasagna noodles that is a huge pain in the ass. They’re huge, you must not over cook them, you have to prevent them from sticking to each other after draining… I don’t know, maybe I’m just lazy, but the idea of using bread really caught my attention. Of course, I couldn’t find Lydia’s recipe to go from, so this version is totally made up by me. But not only do I want to credit her for general inspiration, she also has an Italian cooking show, so she gives my crazy bread lasagna some legitimacy. Maybe. Shhh.
The easiest thing to use is a loaf of pre-sliced, crusty sourdough. I know I recommend sourdough for everything, but really, it’s awesome in this dish. You want the favor, of course, but you also want a sturdy “artisan” type bread that won’t fall apart in the oven. This isn’t a job for sliced sandwich bread. It’s best with bread that is even perhaps a little stale. Look for a quality sliced loaf in the day old section of your grocer and save a buck or two.
You can put absolutely anything in this lasagna. I picked eggplants because I had three of them. I think they are lovely in this, so I recommend them, but really, stuff this with whatever you like or whatever is handy.
Rustic Bread & Eggplant Lasagna
3 Tbs Olive Oil
4-6 Cloves Garlic, minced (optional)
2 28 oz Cans Organic Tomatoes, blended
2 tsp Salt
4 tsp Dried Italian Herbs
Olive Oil, for drizzling
2-3 Medium Eggplants, peeled
8-10 Large Slices of Sourdough Bread
1 Cup Breadcrumbs (or 2 more pieces of bread for toasting and food processing)
1-2 Large, Ripe Tomatoes, fresh, for garnish
Basil, for garnish
In a very large skillet with high sides, or a sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sweat the garlic for 1-2 minutes, then add tomatoes, salt, and herbs. Cook for 30 minutes (bubbling), stirring occasionally. Invert a mesh strainer over the top of the pan to prevent splatter, if desired.
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Meanwhile, prep two baking sheets with parchment paper. Peel the eggplants by slicing off the top and bottom and using the cut edge to start your vegetable peeler. Holding the eggplant vertically, cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle liberally with olive oil.
Bake eggplant for 30-40 minutes at 400º, turning once, until very, very soft and browned in some places.
Spray both sides of each slice of bread with spray oil and “grill” in a hot skillet until browned on both sides. You can also simply toast the bread, but I think you get more flavor with grilling.
In a large baking dish (a lasagna dish), spread 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce. Line the bottom of the dish with bread, filling as many as the gaps as possible without overlapping.
Place half of the eggplant on top of the bread, followed by another 1 to 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce.
Add a second layer of bread.
Add the second half of the eggplant, and all of the remaining sauce. Make sure that the bread is completely covered by sauce. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
Place fresh tomato slices on the top of the lasagna, sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Bake for 40 minutes at 400º F. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Top with basil leaves and drizzle sweet and thick balsamic vinegar (or balsamic syrup) on the plate if desired. Enjoy!
Very good, but the bread was quite chewy.
This was INCREDIBLE! I’ve made it twice already, and still can’t get over how good it is. The sauce is so simple, but so so tasty! thank you for posting this! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m sharing this recipe, and your site (one of my favorites) on my blog. It’s too simple, and too good not to share with everyone!
keep up the great work :)
this is amazing. my husband can’t eat noodles of any kind, even gluten free ones, without getting sick. i was just saying 2 days ago, ‘you know, i’d really like to find a good lasagna recipe to make for you that doesn’t use noodles.’ today, i found this. we are both SO excited. also, this is my new favorite website.
Thanks for all of your great recipes. This one in particular is a favourite and I have made it a couple of times now. I don’t bother with peeling the eggplant and it turns out fine every time. It also tastes great re-heated the next day (or two).
I made this for my vegan daughter, vegetarian son and omnivore self and husband…it was wonderful!! I added cheese to a portion of it but the vegan portion was just as good. The only change I made was that I roasted the bread, brushed with EVOO, in the oven along with the eggplant. I am making it again tonight with fresh tomatoes and eggplant from the farmer’s market. This one is a keeper!
I love the idea of this recipe, but I tend have alot of leftovers when I cook and am a little concerned about how the bread will reheat. Any suggestions?
I made this for my boyfriend for a romantic Christmas night meal. He loved it! Thanks for a great recipe.
Wow, this looks amazing! Great pictures and great recipe.
VEEERY NICE! My is in the oven right now :)
Just finished eating my first serving! We added Italian white beans to the mix for some protein, and it’s awesome–and some black pepper in there didn’t hurt. I definitely don’t regret ‘grilling’ the bread, either. What with the homemade sauce, grilled bread, and eggplant, the flavours are amazing. Thanks so much! It’s perfect on this awful rainy Boston night.
This. was. AMAZING! I made this for dinner when my boyfriend’s parents came to town… they LOVED it, ate the entire thing, and then wanted the recipe!
Just made this for dinner tonight! (I’m going vegan for five days for a class) This recipe definitely makes veganism seem doable :)
My housemate and I made this last week and it was superb! We are trying your cinnamon buns next and are very excited.
http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/8913/18778130721419521010762.jpg – this is a photo of our Rustic Bread & Eggplant Lasagna. Thank you very much.
My mother always believe that boiling Lasagna noodles was a pain as well. until one day she experimented and just put the noodles raw and adding extra sauce, and wah-lah! the sauce does cook the noodles! perfectly, and they taste like your sauce, yum yum.
This lasagna was soooo delicious! I totally loved it. And so did my boyfriend. Thank you very much!!
I just wanted to say that I made this last night and it was AMAZING! I did cut the recipe in half, add some jjulienned spinach between the eggplant and the bread and a bunch of mushrooms into the sauce (for which I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara as a base, instead of canned tomatos).
It tasted JUST LIKE the eggplant parmesan I used to eat as an omni. THANK YOU!
that looks so lovely! the sauce is such a deep red color.
I just discoverd your cookbook by accident. Love at first read! I’m a vegan whose not too fond of onions and garlic. Which makes you a demi-godess! My husband, who loves the sopranos, eggplant and sourdough bread is gonna love this. So far everything I’ve made from the book has been dead on delish! Thanks for doing your thing!