Why you'll love this vegan baked ziti recipe
When it comes to vegan pasta dishes, baked ziti is the best comfort food in my book.
I love veganizing comfort food favorites and watching the omnivores gobble them up. Take this vegan lasagna, this stovetop vegan mac and cheese, this vegan lemon risotto, and of course this baked ziti for example.
This particular vegan version of baked ziti is made with a gluten-free pasta, an herbed nut-free vegan ricotta and tomato sauce for a delicious and simple recipe.
It's the perfect dish to serve for special occasions but easy enough for weeknight meals.
This meatless baked ziti is one that the whole family can enjoy and is free from dairy, gluten, nuts, and oil.
Ingredients you'll need
- Chickpea or Lentil Ziti Pasta or Penne Pasta - Using a chickpea or lentil pasta gives this dish a boost of added protein.
- Canned Tomato Sauce - Many brands offer vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and oil-free canned tomato sauces. Just be sure to check the ingredient labels.
- Sunflower Seed Vegan Ricotta - This sunflower seed cheese is made with raw sunflower seed kernels, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, apple cider vinegar, fresh basil, black pepper and garlic powder.
How to make this vegan baked ziti
First, you'll have to make the vegan ricotta. You can make it the night before or right before, but the flavors infuse better when it's been refrigerated for at least an hour.
To make the ricotta, soak sunflower seeds in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Add the sunflower seeds, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and apple cider vinegar to a high-powered blender or food processor.
Blend on high until no chunks of seeds remain, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in fresh basil, black pepper and garlic powder.
See the vegan ricotta cheese recipe post for more information and instructional photographs.
When you are ready to make the baked ziti, preheat your oven to 400° F.
Then, add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 13" x 9" casserole dish and spread it around with a spoon.
Next, boil water and par-cook the ziti noodles (or penne) for 4 minutes less than the package directs.
For example, if the package's cooking time is 12 minutes, cook the pasta for 8 minutes. If the package gives a range, such as 9-11 minutes, use the average and subtract 4 (so in this case, the pasta would cook for 6 minutes).
Drain pasta and return to pot.
Reserve 1 cup of tomato sauce and add the rest to the pasta.
Reserve ¼ cup of ricotta and add the rest to the pasta. Stir to combine.
Transfer the pasta to the baking dish.
Use a spoon to dollop and lightly spread the ¼ cup reserved ricotta randomly on top of the pasta.
Then, spoon on the 1 cup reserved tomato sauce randomly on top of the pasta around the spots with ricotta.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 10 minutes or unil heated throughout (you should see bubbling).
Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired.
- If you are not avoiding oil, feel free to top off this baked ziti recipe with some vegan mozzarella cheese shreds or vegan Parmesan cheese. You can also add in some sauteed vegan ground beef or other vegan meat such as vegan sausage if you'd like.
- If you prefer, feel free to use homemade tomato sauce or jarred pasta sauce in place of the canned. Just note that most jarred sauces contain oil, but there are a few that do not such as 365 fat free marinara and Simply Nature marinara.
This vegan main is also perfect for meal prep!
And if you're like me and enjoy Italian dishes as part of your winter and spring holiday traditions, it's great for serving at Christmas or Easter too!
Storing and reheating
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
You can reheat the ziti in the microwave until warmed throughout in a covered microwave-safe dish.
You can also reheat in a 400° F in a covered baking dish until warmed throughout. Line the baking dish with a little sauce before adding the leftover ziti.
- Be sure to gently fold the pasta, sauce and vegan ricotta together until just combined to avoid pasta breakage.
- It's important to undercook the pasta before it is al dente as it will continue to cook in the oven. Overcooking will lead to breakage.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, the baked ziti can be made a day ahead of time. Follow all of the steps except for baking and then cover tightly with foil and store in the refrigerator. Allow the casserole to sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before baking according to the cooking instructions.
Leftover ziti can be frozen for up to 3 months; however, note that this can lead to the pasta breaking after defrosting and reheating. Be sure to freeze in an airtight container with an extra layer of plastic wrap or foil to prevent freezer burn. Allow the ziti to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating following the reheating instructions above.
More vegan pasta recipes
Vegan Baked Ziti
- 1 batch sunflower seed ricotta
- 12 oz chickpea or lentil pasta
- 1 (28 oz.) *can oil-free, vegan tomato sauce
- 1 (15 oz.) *can oil-free, vegan tomato sauce
- Make the sunflower seed ricotta and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 13" x 9" baking dish and spread around with a spoon.
- Boil 3 qts. of water in a 5-qt. pot. Salt the water if desired. Par-cook the pasta for 4 minutes less than the package directs. For example, if the package's cooking time is 12 minutes, cook the pasta for 8 minutes. If the package gives a range, such as 9-11 minutes, use the average and subtract 4 (so in this case, the pasta would cook for 6 minutes). Drain pasta and return to pot.
- Reserve 1 cup of tomato sauce and add the rest to the pasta. Reserve ¼ cup of ricotta and add the rest to the pasta. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the pasta to the baking dish. Use a spoon to dollop and lightly spread the ¼ cup reserved ricotta randomly on top of the pasta. Spoon on the 1 cup reserved tomato sauce randomly on top of the pasta around the spots with ricotta.
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes or until heated throughout (you should see bubbling). Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
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