Italian Sausage and Eggplant Strata

It’s said that good things come to those who wait, and this dish may test your patience. Constructed with layers of tender eggplant, spicy homemade sausage, and silky tomato sauce, this casserole tastes best eaten a few days after baking. But the delayed gratification is worthwhile. A bite of the top layer, so tender and airy, is followed by a pleasant kick of heat that’s soon tempered by the creamy eggplant.

dotted line Italian Sausage and Eggplant Strata

Serves 6-8 | Prep 30| Cook 30  | Rest 30 min | Whole30 compliant

  • 3 1/2 pounds globe eggplants (about 2-3)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 2 pounds ground pork

  • 3 tablespoons Italian Sausage Seasoning (p. 49)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

  • 8 large basil leaves, slivered (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 4 eggs

  • salt and black pepper, to taste

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil and brush a 13X9-inch pan with some of the melted coconut oil.


Slice the eggplant into rounds about 1/2-inch thick and place on baking sheet. Brush the eggplant with the remaining melted coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F for the next stage of baking.


While the eggplant is roasting, crumble the ground pork into a large mixing bowl with your hands, then add the Italian Sausage Seasoning and knead until well blended.


Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Crumble the pork into the pan, then break up large chunks using a wooden spoon. Cook until the pork is nicely browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl and return the pan to the stove.


Reduce the heat to medium, then add 1 tablespoon coconut oil and the garlic to the pan. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Stir to combine, increase heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.


When the tomato sauce is cool, beat the eggs in a small bowl, then blend them into the tomato sauce with a wooden spoon. Warning: This will not look like something you’ll want to eat, but soldier on.


To assemble the strata, place a single layer of eggplant in the bottom of the greased 13X9-inch pan. Sprinkle half of the cooked meat on top of the eggplant, then top with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Create another layer of eggplant, top with the remainder of the meat and 1 cup of the sauce. Build your final layer with eggplant and spread the remaining sauce evenly over the top.


Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing or eating. Before serving, lightly brush the top of the strata with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the remaining basil.

NOTE: If you’re waiting a few days to eat it (good for you!), skip the olive oil and basil step when the strata comes out of the oven. Instead, wrap the pan tightly in aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, keep the strata covered in foil and reheat in a 300F oven for 20-30 minutes, then follow the garnish instructions.

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You Know How You Could Do That?

Try a combo of 1 pound pork and 1 pound beef, or omit the meat and use as a side dish or to feed vegetarian friends.

This is delicious warm and at room temperature. I’ve enjoyed it in the following ways:

  • a big hunk alongside fennel sautéed with garlic and olive oil
  • a big hunk alongside cabbage sautéed with coconut oil and Italian herbs
  • chopped into cubes and stir-fried with cabbage for breakfast
  • cold, out of the fridge, with my fingers, door propped open with my hip, in a feeding frenzy

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  • Cheryl says:

    you could call this lasagna too!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Cheryl, I *could*, but then I wouldn't be able to use my F' with I love so much. 😉

  • eriko says:

    This looks amazing. I am so making this since tomatoes and eggplant are coming in to season here in NJ.
    I know you love using the F', but I'm going with Eggplant Amazon. (My hubby just declared that ALL of my food must end in Amazon.) *grin*

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Eriko, I love that idea!

    Scotch Eggs Amazon
    Green Beans Amazon

    And for variety:
    Amazon Chicken Curry
    Amazon Blueberries (which are the size of golf balls)

  • Addi says:

    Love it. Just picked 8 giant tomatoes in my garden and needed something to do with them before the fruit flies invade! Going to give this a whirl tomorrow.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Addi! Fresh from the garden! That's awesome. Let me know how you like it!

  • michele says:

    i had just been to the farmer's market today to pick up ingredients for this

    when i saw your post. lord knows we'll have several more weeks of eggplant and tomatoes, so i'll try this one next week.

    also: took a suggestion of yours and found myself a sleep mask. hellOOOO, what a difference.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Michele, I love Smitten Kitchen, and that recipe looks awesome!

    I'm glad you like the eye mask; it's worked wonders for me. I really kinda want this one:

  • michele says:




  • Addi says:

    So my pans of f'armesan (As a former French major and certified pun-geek, I'm a huge fan of this name) are cooling downstairs… I forgot the eggs and half-burnt the sauce, and I haven't actually tasted anything but a chunk of sausage off the top, but I think it turned out pretty good. Added bacon and italian sausage to the sauce, as well as some extra tomatoes that didn't fare so well in the roasting process. Smells amazing.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Addi, I'm so glad you like the ridiculous name I gave this dish. I'm also totally into the idea of adding sausage and BACON (rad!) to the sauce. Did you eat it yet?

  • Addi says:

    It was my birthday yesterday, so I did my damndest to have bacon at every meal. It turned out really well, but the bacon got lost in the italian sausage (which ended up being spicier than anticipated). Still, I knew it was in there, and that made me happy. It was a little on the runny (make that "juicy") side without the eggs to thicken the sauce, but super tasty.

    Eating some right now, actually, scrambled with eggs. Not too shabby.

  • Ehsa says:

    The phrase "ab fab" must have been invented to describe this dish. It's excellent on day 1, but by day 3 it is sheer ambrosia. Really good topped with crumbled bacon, and a pile of buttermilk coleslaw on the side. Eagerly awaiting the version with meat (although I may do a bit of ground turkey experimentation on my own). Thanks!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Ehsa! Hooray! I'm glad you like it. And I agree — the flavors really meld after a few days. I can't wait to make it again!

  • Lizette says:

    So I had my farmhouse basket delivered yesterday and found that it contained eggplant…so I decided to give your recipe a try…it was delicious…I added a few other diced veggies in the sauce and served it with some spinach…it was divine! Had it for lunch again today. Your blog is great…. I stumbled upon it when looking for some paleo recipes since I am a newbie.. 2 weeks in and feeling amazing!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hi, Lizette! Spinach sounds like an awesome addition! I love all the customization ideas you guys are sharing.

    I roasted eggplant and tomatoes this week… then got too impatient and just ate them straight out of the oven. Next time: more discipline!

  • shayne says:

    i made this last week with some meat in the sauce. i fried up hot italian chicken sausage (squeezed out of its casing), omitted the olive oil (had enough sausage fat!) and then proceeded to make the sauce as you describe. it was *delicious*!!

    my favorite way to eat it: chopped up and fried several days later – the flavors really come out after a few days in the fridge.

    thanks for another great recipe :)

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Shayne, that sounds awesome. I love to take stuff that's been cooked some other way, then throw in a saute pan after a few days and carmelize the bejeezus out of it. YUMMY!

    I'm so glad you like this recipe!

  • Pam says:

    I am so doing this tomorrow. And, I am buying your cookbook the moment it drops!

  • Kevin says:

    Mel, I came across this recipe this afternoon and it looked delicious. Tried it out and it tasted just as good as it looked.

    I’m excited to try it again in the fall with some fresh veggies!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Emily W says:

    I made this last night, and the flavor was wonderful but it was very runny, soggy and squishy so no one would eat it but me. It definitely didn’t look like the picture. Any idea what I did wrong? I would really love to try this again because it tasted SO good, but we had a very hard time with the texture. Also are the eggs supposed to cook to a hardened texture or stay soft? Because I was expecting them to harden up, but my sauce basically looked like it did before baking!

    • Mel says:

      Sorry to hear this recipe didn’t work for you. I’ve since re-tested it and included it in my cookbook in a much better version… but just haven’t gotten to updating this one yet.

      Next time, leave out the roasted tomatoes and increase the eggplant. The eggs should bind the sauce together – but I’ve found that when I use the roasted tomatoes in addition to the crushed tomatoes, there’s just too much liquid.

  • Emily W says:

    Thanks for the tips. I will probably try to make it again as I loved the flavor!!

  • Carol says:

    If you are about to make this and think to yourself, “there is simply not enough veggies in this,” then substitute the tomato sauce with Whole9’s All-purpose Veggie Sauce (which can be found here on the 2nd pg). This veggie sauce has everything in the tomato sauce in this recipe plus about 6 extra veggies! I make a big batch of the veggie sauce ahead of time, and then this recipe is REALLY quick and easy.

  • Kelsey says:

    This was delicious! I added in sun dried tomatoes to the sauce, made the flavor POP!

  • Deb says:

    Just made a double batch…it looks awesome, thank you so much for all your fabulous recipes. I did whole 30 and in the course of it so many of your recipes have become my standby, crowd pleaser, deb pleaser, family pleaser favorites. Thanks for the support that your hard work and creativity provide all of us. Hooray for delicious beautiful food!!

    • Mel says:

      Right on! Congrats on your Whole30 — and I’m glad you like this recipe. It tastes even better when it sits in the fridge — reheating it unleashes the magic 😉

  • Mary G. says:

    I just received an eggplant in my farm basket this week and I love this recipe idea. Can’t wait to try it out … I am lacking in some ingredients. And glad that I found your website.

  • deb1611 says:

    I’m late to this farmesan party, I know, but I just wanted to say that I made it exactly according to the above recipe and directions and it was MINDBLOWINGLY AWESOME!!! Thanks so much! Will definitely make again, but twice the size. Nomnomnom

  • Lindy says:

    I made this with Eggplant and Zucchini since I had no tomatoes on hand and added ground pork to the sauce. It smells amazing baking in the oven. I’ll have to check out my copy of Well Fed (which I’m steadily cooking my way through) to see what you changed for the cookbook!

  • Lauren J says:

    Do you think this will freeze well?

    • It freezes great! I recommend you cook it, let it cool, refrigerate so it’s very firm, then cut into serving-size squares, and wrap each square individually for quick reheat. OR, you can freeze the whole pan. Always defrost in the refrigerator. To reheat, you can either put pieces in a pan with a little water and steam them utnil they’re hot, or wrap in foil and reheat in a 350F oven.


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