Rustic Bread & Eggplant Lasagna

Rustic Bread and 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
Serves 9-12

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.

Eggplant before roasting

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.

Before baking

Bake for 40 minutes at 400º F. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

After baking

Top with basil leaves and drizzle sweet and thick balsamic vinegar (or balsamic syrup) on the plate if desired. Enjoy!

Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna


  1. Stephanie

    I made this Monday night and it turned out great! My boyfriend and I brought it in for lunch all week and it gets better everyday…the bread just keeps getting more flavorful! Thanks for posting!

  2. christine

    just made this recipe … great flavor!!

    one concern: the texture came out a bit soggy, or gummy (for lack of a better word). Any recommendations? Is it possible my eggplant was too ripe or that I used too much olive oil?

  3. PerpetualStudent

    There’s a place near my folks that makes wheat-free dairy-free lasagna with slabs of polenta instead of noodles.

  4. Chrissy

    OH. MY. GOD. i am making this with every eggplant that comes out of my garden this year. seriously. i grow almost all of the ingredients. if only i could figure out how to grow olives in ohio.

    so do you know you have an edy’s ad on your VEGAN page? oops.

  5. Gourmet Mama

    This looks sooooo good and I love that it has no cheese! We don`t really eat cheese here, though we aren`t vegan, but all the lasagna recipes call for it, so it`s great to see an alternative! Thanks.

  6. Amanda

    I made this last night for a pot luck dinner and everyone loved it. Definitely a favorite of the evening.

  7. Small Footprints

    I saw the same program and was fascinated at the use of bread rather than noodles. Your version looks mouth watering!! We’ve used eggplant as noodles but I think the bread would give it a nice texture.

    Here’s another bread tip that I learned from my Italian family … use toasted, seasoned bread crumbs as a substitute for Parmesan cheese. Sounds weird, I know, but it gives one the same mouth feel as Parmesan and depending on the seasonings used (I always use Italian seasoning along with a little nutritional yeast), the flavor is along those cheesy lines.

    Thank for sharing!

  8. Michael

    Every Italian knows you do not need to boil the noodles before making the lasagna. The heat from the sauce and then the oven is enough to cook the noodles. It even says on every lasagna noodle packet, not to boil them before hand, because then they get too soggy! I am surprised as an amazing chef yourself, you do not know this.

  9. Stephanie

    I made this last night. I added a layer of fresh spinach from my local farmer’s market, and a bit of nutritional yeast on top. It was delicious, and definitely satisfies that Italian food craving well. Thanks so much!

  10. Mara

    When you say (2) 28 oz. cans of tomatoes, what exactly do you mean. Do you mean stewed tomatoes and then blend them up. Can I just use 2 jars of spaghetti sauce. Thanks.

  11. Leslie Clark

    I just made this for dinner tonight for me and my 80 year old Dad. We both loved it. Half way thru dinner I realized I forgot to make the balsamic glaze … it was delicious without it, but I bet it’s over the top outrageous with it! Thank goodness I have leftovers to give it a try.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  12. Crystal

    Wow…really a great idea, i made it for lunch yesterday…it taste great. Thank you for sharing !!!

  13. dmichl

    Tried this today, came out really well! very tasty! i added some pesto in between the bread and eggplant (a bit more expensive) but delicious! thanks again!

  14. Carolina

    Best lasagna ever! I made it last night because there was some bread at home and ONE eggplant, so I tried. My gah, I can´t forget that taaaaasteee!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Randy

    I too loved the food I ate after watching the Sopranos. I made ziti frequently (because they talked about it on just about every episode) and I made a veggie sausage, potato, peppers, vesuvio (I made that one up as I went along, but it was great), and don’t forget the red wine–goes great with the food and the Sopranos! Netflix, Sopranos, and Italian food go so good together.

  17. Leigh

    This is in my oven right now thanks to your recipe. A few variations – the addition of mushrooms and squash to the tomato sauce. I had them in the fridge and just needed to use them up. It’s smelling wonderful!

  18. Jess - The Domestic Vegan

    This was fantastic! I used only about 1 Tbsp. olive oil for the garlic, only 1 (very large) eggplant, and shredded a little Veganrella on top – but other than that, followed the directions & it came out beautifully! It was so simple, yet so delicious. Thank you!

    (And I have never seen an episode of “The Sopranos,” so I am waaaaay behind the curve! Oh, last thing – like others have noted here, I never boil my lasagna noodles prior to assembling. It works great every time, and saves so much time & hassle!)

  19. jennifer

    you dont actually have to cook the lasagna noodles. i used to and i also realized what a pain in the ass it is. but the juice from the sauce and the heat from the oven does it perfectly AND you dont have to worry about rubbery noodles. take my word for it.

  20. kellybone

    Brilliant… I’ve been working on my own vegan eggplant lasagna sans noodles but its been coming out a bit flat, literally! Bread is a perfect addition! I’ve also been using white bean puree to replace cheese, no one has figured out its vegan yet…

  21. Sarah

    This turned out SO well! What a perfect recipe. :) My non-veg sister LOVED it and didn’t even miss the cheese. I’m still new to vegan cooking, and your blog is so helpful! Thanks!

  22. Lindsay

    I made this a couple of nights ago for my family and Oh-My-God was it good!
    This is definitely a recipe that both vegans and omni’s would enjoy.

  23. Caitlyn


    I just made this today, and I am in love.

    My grandma has a delicious homemade lasagna recipe, but 1) like you I HATE cooking lasagna noodles, and oven ready aren’t as good, and 2) since I’d be veganizing it, I knew it wouldn’t taste nearly as good. I must say, I think I prefer this one too hers(shh, don’t tell!). Even my non-vegan parents loved it. Will defiently be making this again :)

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  26. savethesnails

    I made this last night! Thank you for the recipe…TJ’s was out of eggplant so had to settle for the frozen bag of their grilled eggplant. Also, I added Tofurkey Itallian Sausages because carnivores were involved. Everyone approved! I also made your cucumber sandwiches as an appetizer! MMM I love your recipes!
    Oh and I made your crepes this morning with fried bananas and dark chocolate :) Obsessed

  27. liz

    made this the other night, sooo good! I added a layer of tofu ricotta to give it a little protein and “cheesiness” to make the omni boyfriend happy.

  28. amelia

    this is SOOOOO good. I love the tanginess of the sauce. my mom helped me make it the second time and she didn’t’ even realize it was vegan until she started eating. It’s good enough to serve my boyfriend’s jerky eating father when he visits. did I mention this was good?

  29. J. E. Porcher

    This is beautiful! I will certainly try it! It reminds me of the countless “bread lasagne” my mother made throughout my childhood, a fond memory.

    By the way, I noticed some people have already tipped you as to not needing to cook the lasagne noodles. I was going to say the same. It’s not necessary at all, and I recommend Barilla lasagne noodles, they are great and not huge like other brands.

  30. Melanie

    Lauren have commented before and had to do it again – you are so awesome – I love to cook and bake and you have no idea how much you inspire me!!! You are a true artist – everything you do looks so delicious, perfect, beautifully presented.

  31. sarah

    This was good! You won’t even miss the cheese. My only complaint is that it took a little longer than expected.

  32. heny yanuarti

    hai i am from bali-indonesia, i like your pancake heeeemm nyam nyam BE VEG GO GREEN AND SAVE THE PLANET

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  34. Mae Bird

    This is a really great idea! … This may sound weird.. but I don’t like noodles.. I don’t love pasta, its a new thing for me. BUT I love eggplant. I am going to make this as soon as the weather cools down a bit!

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  36. Shuvi

    My husband and I made this on saturday for our “stay-in date night”. It was amazing. I loved it. It’s going in my recipe book to make often. Thank you so very much!

  37. Karen

    Could you make this in a crock pot?? It looks so good I want to take it to a family picnic where I know there are other vegans!

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