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. szilvi

    It looks soo yummy…
    We also really in to Italian food. I ve just made a lasagne a few weeks back, but this is something different…i m going to try it out soon.
    thank u :)

  2. Happy Vegan Lady

    What a coincidence – my boyfriend and I have starting watching The Sopranos too (we’re mid-way through season 2 now) AND we both end up really hungry at the end of most episodes. I like the idea of using bread in lasagne – definitely different!

  3. Shelby

    I’ve never thought to add bread to a lasagne before! It’s got to be amazing though, I can just imagine the half-soggy pieces melting in my mouth…mmm!

  4. Joan Nova

    I’m Italian and I’m a foodie (like everyone) and I never heard of bread lasagne so I thank Lydia and I thank you! I love the concept. It opens itself up to all types of interpretations.

  5. Mira

    I love The Sopranos and I love the idea of making bread lasagne. Awesome. And great photos, as always :-)

  6. Anna

    Those pictures of the roasted eggplant are glorious. The combo of eggplant and tomato with all those sharp spices–oh, I adore!

  7. fresh365

    This is a great idea- I certainly agree about the pain of cooking lasagna noodles! I will be giving this a try… and now I’m craving pasta at 9am!

  8. Ivy

    Looks absolutely delicious. Did you know, though, that you don’t have to actually preboil lasagna noodles? You just lay the noodles in the lasagne pan with enough sauce and the noodles get cooked.

    I know they make oven-ready ones, but I don’t care for them.

  9. grace

    hot diggity! this is amazing! i get so tired of lasagna noodles, and i always have sourdough bread on hand. finally, something new and exciting, and with eggplant, no less! bravo. :)

  10. Elaine

    I thought that too… pain of boiling lasagna noodles? What? You know they make oven-ready ones, right?

    I know they make oven-ready ones, but I don’t care for them.

  11. Bianca- Vegan Crunk

    Amazing! I’m definitely going to try this! I’ve got some sourdough starter that I’m trying to find lots of uses for. I could bake a loaf, let it sit for a few days and get stale….and then make this lasagna! Perfecto! (I think that’s what Italians would say).

  12. Ali

    I. Have. To. Make. This! Bread is not crazy. :) this almost sounds like bruschetta- lasagna style. I wonder, for summertime flavor.. Can I grill the eggplant too?

  13. Kris

    Wow! I was just thinking of making lasagna last night, but I put away the noodles thinking, “what a pain!” This looks awesome, and I don’t really like eggplant. I think I will try this, though.

  14. Mary

    How did the bread hold up? Was it soaked through, or were the slices still just bread in the middle?

    The bread holds up quite well. It does get soft, but it retains it’s shape, even when reheated the next day.

  15. Johanna

    looks delicious – no wonder you don’t like lasagne noodles if you are doing all the preboiling – I always buy noodles that don’t need pre-boiling and am happy to leave it in the oven long enough (about 45 min) for them to cook because I love the crispy topping (I use cheese but breadcrumbs and seeds on a vegan cheese sauce go nicely crispy too)

  16. Jain

    This sounds amazing and I love the breadcrumbs and sliced tomatoes on top. How important is the “liberal” dose of olive oil on the eggplant? Would a good spraying of oil work instead, or would the eggplant be too dry? I’m a little leery of the fat in this recipe but would love to make it work. Love your blog, thanks!

    Personally, I don’t think the eggplant comes out right without a decent amount of oil. If you have a way you make eggplant that you like, by all means prepare it that way before putting it in the lasagna. I’ve tried using less oil and I’m never happy with the results.

  17. foodsnob

    OMG…this looks brilliant! What a fabulous idea. My husband, the biggest bread eater I know, is gonna flip out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  18. Handa

    Hi, I love eggplant lasagne and this recipe will make it so much easier!

    Oh, and is your cookbook still going to come out? I really wanted one.

  19. Celina

    Wow! This looks so tasty, I’m going to have to try it. And I totally agree with you that lasagna noodles are a pain in the ass–mine always break and/or stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. How do you burn something in boiling water? Anyway, thank you for the great idea. :)

  20. Kiki

    That’s a great idea, using bread I mean, never thought (or seen) that before. I surely going to try this. I
    PS Great photos!

  21. Jen

    Brilliant! As I prefer dunking thick slices of crusty bread into sauce, forgoing the pasta altogether, I adore this play on lasagna.

  22. Kelly

    That’s gorgeous. Your photos always inspire me. They are always both appetitizing and beautiful which can be a challenge to pull off. Nice Job!

  23. pupa

    I’ve just made this and it’s DELICIOUS! but of course, every single VeganYumYum recipe I’ve made so far turned out great, can’t wait for the cookbook!
    thank you so much for making veganism so damn tasty

  24. Carla Irvin

    I’m surprised no one has made the comparison to eggplant parm (without the parm, of course). It seems like a lasagna version of that classic. I’d throw a little nootch in there–makes almost anything better, I think.

  25. Shannon

    Fabulous! That looks absolutely delicious! And not to worry, I haven’t watched one episode of The Sopranos, so you are ahead of me at least!

  26. piile

    this was simply incredible. my whole family (omnis, but steadily converting) licked their plates clean! the only changes i made were making my favourite sauce (red onions & lots of garlic thoroughly caramelised before adding tomatoes) & pan-frying the eggplant. superb!


  27. subdude

    this looks absolutely delectable! i have seen toasted bread in one other casserole… i forgot the name of the recipe (it might be a hamburger pie) but it is from the original Joy of Cooking and uses toasted white bread as a top layer to the “pie.” Anyway, will have to try this. Cheers!

  28. Mara

    You are such an inspiration. I LOVE your recipes. I’d be lost on coming up with good tasting vegan dishes if it weren’t for your site. Thank you SO much!

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