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serving of baked ziti on a white plate garnished with grated cheese and parsley

Easy Baked Ziti with Red Lentil Pasta

This easy red lentil baked ziti is a hearty gluten-free Italian meal featuring three kinds of cheese and red lentil penne pasta.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked ziti, gluten free, Italian, italian food, lentil pasta, pasta, ricotta cheese filling
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10 -12


  • 1 Ricotta Cheese Mixture (click for the recipe)
  • 56 oz. crushed tomatoes with basil (I used Tuttorosso brand)
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese *see notes below regarding vegetarian-friendly cheese options
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 16 oz red lentil penne pasta (I used Explore Cuisine)
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese *see notes below regarding vegetarian-friendly cheese options


  • Prepare ricotta cheese mixture according to recipe and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. 
  • Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, grated cheese and parsley to a 4-quart saucepan. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium to medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is done, remove from heat.
  • While sauce is cooking, prepare the pasta according to package directions except cook molto al dente, which is slightly undercooked. It should be slightly firm but not too hard. For example, the pasta I used had a cooking time of 8-10 minutes, and I cooked it for 6 minutes. I'd recommend starting with 2 minutes less than suggested to ensure it does not become overcooked which will result in the pasta falling apart when it is baked.
  • After draining the pasta, return to pot.
  • Carefully add the sauce to the pasta as it will still be hot.
  • Stir in ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Scoop evenly into a deep 13" x 9" baking dish
  • Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and ziti is bubbly.


*For vegetarian-friendly cheese options: If you are unable to find a vegetarian-friendly Romano cheese, replace the Romano cheese in the ricotta cheese filling with with ¼ cup vegetarian-friendly Parmesan cheese, replace the Romano cheese in the sauce with 2 tablespoons of vegetarian-friendly Parmesan cheese and ensure the mozzarella being used is also vegetarian. This article from Vegetatio includes a list of vegetarian cheese brands and types.