Use-Whatcha-Got Eggplant Lasagna

Now isn’t really a time for strictly sticking to recipes.

If your current situation is anything like mine, you have plenty of some things, you’re running low on others, and maybe you’re not sure when you’re going to get more of those things. You gotta work with whatever happens to be around. Ingenuity and resourcefulness are where it’s at.

I recently made an eggplant lasagna in much this was, pieced together from various different components I had around the kitchen. The results were super tasty and it didn’t feel like a leftover makeover, even though it very much can serve this purpose.

Admittedly, I’ve done this before, prior to the zombie apocalypse hitting us. Whenever I make a braised meat dish, I’ll take a portion of it and tear it to bits, then freeze it with some of the sauce it cooked in. Essentially, it becomes a ragu in this way. I’ll pull that out down the line to use as a meat sauce in all kinds of different ways, including as a lasagna or eggplant lasagna sauce. Most recently I pulled out leftovers from this Pot Roast with Tomatoes and Chickpeas and have also used leftovers from this Braised Lamb Shank in the past. You don’t even need to use meat at all if you don’t want to.

Eggplant has a pretty long season here in California, can often be found in grocery stores, and is usually pretty inexpensive. There is the question of if to pre-salt the eggplant to draw out the bitterness, or if not to pre-salt the eggplant and save time. I’ve done it both ways. I noticed a mild difference when I didn’t salt when I tasted the eggplant on its own, but not much at all once it was covered with all of the toppings. Here’s more info if you’d like, but basically I’d say go ahead and pre-salt if you think about it in advance, but don’t stress too much if you’re pressed for time. We have enough stress at the moment as it is! Personally, I found that getting a good amount of olive oil on each slice while roasting made a bigger difference in the final result in flavor and texture.

Today I’ll guide you through how to put this together using whatever you have.

 The slices on the right had more olive oil on them and resulted in a softer texture throughout the slice, the slices on the left had a little less and were a little less soft.


I’ve made versions of this dish a few times and it usually yields leftovers, so I’ve had a chance to try to a few different wines with this and we found it to be a pretty easy dish to match. In general, I think lots of red wines will work well here. My personal preference and recommendation is just to stay away from the fullest, biggest, most tannic reds with this dish. Just think about anything you like to drink with pizza or pasta with tomato or meat sauce.

Here are three that we’ve tried that worked.

The Broc Cellars Love Red was the lightest bodied wine of those we’ve had with it. It’s juicy and chuggable. This is a particularly good choice when the weather starts to get warm because it can easily take a light chill. It’s also a wine that easily pairs with lots of things. (I’ve previously about the Broc Love Red here.)

The Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy 2016 (sample) was a medium-bodied and a nice balance of earthy and fruity. I thought this made an excellent match! (For more on Sicilian wines check out these posts here and here.)

The Fidelitas M100 Red, Columbia Valley, WA 2017 was the biggest of the wines we’ve had with versions of this dish. While it was fairly full-bodied and structured, the tannins were ripe and smooth. A solid choice if you’re craving that cozy, big red mouth hug.

Eggplant Lasagna, Non-recipe, Quarantine Cooking
Servings: 4 to 6

Use-Whatcha-Got Eggplant Lasagna

Use-Whatcha-Got Eggplant Lasagna

Prep Time: 15 MCooking Time: 60 MTotal Time: 75 M


  • Eggplant (2 large or 3 small to medium), sliced in ¼-inch rounds. (Eggplant can be pre-salted to draw out moisture and bitterness or not. If pre-salting, remember to allow at least 20 minutes more to your timing.)
  • Olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you have available)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sauce & Filling
  • 1 to 2 cups of cheese, such as mozzarella, Parmesan, asiago, or ricotta (it can be a combination)
  • Bread crumbs (optional)
Sauce & Filling - You’ll want about a 1.5 to 2 quarts total of sauce and meat for this. For this last batch, I used a combination. This can be composed of a selection of items  such as:
  • Raw ground meat or sausage
  • Wine, stock, vinegar, or water
  • Onion or shallots
  • Other raw veggies of your choosing
  • Garlic
  • Meat sauce
  • Tomato sauce or canned tomatoes
  • Herbs of your choosing, like thyme, rosemary, oregano, or basil (dry or fresh)
  • Leftover bits of meat, sausage, or charcuterie
  • Previously cooked veggies you think will taste good
  • Flour (for thickening)
  • Leafy greens


How to cook Use-Whatcha-Got Eggplant Lasagna

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place the eggplant rounds on the baking sheet. Drizzle or brush each round with olive oil. (While you don’t need to drown the eggplant in oil, I find it’s better to fall on the slightly more generous side.) Season with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant in the oven and roast until soft and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping half-way through. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. Build your sauce while the eggplant is cooking. If using raw meat, heat a little bit of olive In a large pot or saucepan, then add in the meat and cook until lightly browned. Once cooked through, transfer meat to another plate.
  4. Deglaze the pan with a little bit of liquid such as stock, wine, or water and scrape up any brown bits. Add any onions or shallots to the pan with a little olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and sweat until soft and translucent. If you’re using other hardy raw veggies such as carrots or celery, feel free to add them in along with the onions. If you have mushrooms, add them in a few minutes after the onions. If using raw garlic, add in when the rest of the veggies are nearly cooked through. Sprinkle the vegetable mixture with about 1 tablespoon of flour if desired, toss well, and allow to cook for 30 seconds to a minute – this will help thicken the sauce later.
  5. Add any diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, or previously cooked meat sauce to the pot with the veggies. Toss in any herbs (to taste) you want to use, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the ground meat back into the pot, along with any other previously cooked bits of meat, charcuterie, and vegetables you want to use. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and herbs. Simmer the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes. If you want to include leafy greens, add them towards the end and cook until just wilted. Remove the pot from heat.
  6. Spoon some of the sauce in a lightly greased 9"-x-13" casserole dish. Place about half the eggplant rounds in the lasagna pan on top, then spoon more sauce on top, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. (If using ricotta, use it in this middle layer.) Repeat with another layer of eggplant and sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, followed by a couple of tablespoons of breadcrumbs if using. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (Note: If you’re concerned that the cheese might cook too quickly on top, cover the pan with foil, and remove halfway through. I like the cheese to brown a bit on top, so I typically leave it off. If you have limited cheese available – as was the case for me during my most recent version of this dish – skip the middle cheese layer and concentrate your resources on top.)
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes to set. If you have more fresh herbs, feel free to sprinkle more on top. Serve hot.


Prep and cooking times will vary depending on if you're using leftovers or cooking everything from scratch.

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