Enjoy my Vegan Baked Ziti recipe; it is easy to prepare and the perfect weeknight dinner. Oven-baked pasta with marinara, plant-based ground meat, and vegan cheese is baked until bubbly. The perfect comfort dish that’s flavorful and hearty!
This vegan baked ziti is a crowd-pleaser and a great way to show people that living a plant-based life doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. It’s a great meal for any time of the year, but it’s especially cozy on a cold winter night.
Vegan-baked ziti is a healthy, budget-friendly favorite that everyone will love. It’s a kid-friendly family recipe that is hearty, filling, and sure to become one of your go-to meals. But most importantly, it’s made with pasta, plant-based ground beef, tomato sauce, a vegan cheese sauce, vegan mozzarella, herbs, and spices – so you won’t even miss the meat!
Although technically, you don’t need a recipe to prepare this Vegan Baked Ziti, it is a simple dish that is very forgiving. But here, I’ll share a few simple steps to make this delicious dish in no time.
Scroll down for the detailed recipe, but I suggest reading the complete article for useful tips and suggestions if you want to make a perfect recipe every time.
What Is Baked Ziti?
It is a popular Italian-American casserole made of ziti pasta and a tomato-based sauce in the Neapolitan style. It’s a type of baked pasta.
Typically, the pasta is boiled separately until nearly done but not completely. Next, a tomato-based sauce is added to the almost-cooked pasta. After that, the tomato-smeared pasta is mixed with cheese, usually a combination of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella. Other ingredients, such as ground beef, mushrooms, sausage, peppers, and onions, can be mixed in with the cheese. Next, the ingredients are mixed in a baking dish, then topped with mozzarella cheese, baked, and served hot. If ziti isn’t available, other tubular pasta like penne or rigatoni can be used instead.
Why You Will Love Vegan Baked Ziti?
There are lots of reasons that force you to like this recipe:
Easy to prepare. It’s really simple to make the cashew cheese sauce. The longest part of my previous recipe, ” Vegan Sweet Potato mac and cheese,” is waiting patiently for the sweet potato to boil, but this sauce prep work requires less than 5 min (optionally, you just need to soak cashew) and require 5 minutes to brown the ground meat. After that, process with the remaining ingredients until smooth, then mix it with boiled ziti, finish it with mozzarella, and bake it.
Can be made ahead of time. You may prepare all three components of the recipe in advance — the cashew cheese sauce, the macaroni, and ground meat. Store for the serving day (can be kept up to a week), then assemble, bake, and serve. The leftovers can also be refrigerated for a few days and are extremely excellent — though you don’t get the same crispiness as the first day, as the topping loses some crispness after being refrigerated.
Heavenly comfort food. It’s rich, cheesy, hearty, and comforting. Although pasta has long been a comfort food favorite (cheesy + creamy), adding a crunchy topping elevates it to new heights. Each bite is overflowing with taste, decadence, and nostalgia.
Healthy. All ingredients are highly healthy and nutritious (scroll down for ingredients’ nutritional value)
Budget-friendly! The recipe ingredients are also inexpensive and easily available.
Additionally, it is,
- Gluten-free and soy-free
- Ideal for meal preparation
- Tastes just like lasagna
- Lunches are made easier with leftovers!
- Ideal for potlucks, birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations
- A crowd-pleasing recipe that is kid-friendly!
How To Make Vegan Baked Ziti?
Making this vegan-baked ziti is quite simple and easy. You will require a few handfuls of simple ingredients and a few simple steps to follow:
- Boil pasta in a large pot of water according to package directions, cook until al dente and do not overcook the pasta because you will bake the pasta in the oven. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Make the cashew cheese sauce, add cashew, water, nutritional flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a high-speed blender, and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven at 375 degrees F. Lightly spray with oil or brush a large casserole pan set aside.
- Saute vegan ground meat in oil until brown, about 5 minutes, using a spoon to break it up into pieces.
- Add onions, garlic, Italian seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add marinara sauce and stir until heated through and bubbly—season with salt to taste.
- Add sauce mixture with the pasta, vegan cheese sauce, and half the vegan mozzarella.
- Spread the pasta into the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. Garnish with parsley and bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven.
What Appetizers Well With Baked Ziti?
I like to pair it with a simple green salad, vegan caesar salad, spinach salad, broccoli salad, or vegan focaccia for a complete meal. Of course, you could also serve a side of vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, carrots, and so on.
Soup: Serve with a small bowl of vegan Tomato Basil Soup, Vegan Lentil Soup, or Red Lentil Soup to complete your meal.
Bread: Artisan bread or no-knead bread, soft and gluten-free Socca flatbread, or chewy Naan bread can be served with the meal.
Reheating And Storing Method:
This ziti recipe serves a large number of people. If you’re cooking for one individual or a small family, half the recipe; moreover, baked ziti is tastily rewarmed for lunches and freezes well, making it ideal for meal prep!
Cover any leftover baked ziti and keep refrigerated for up to five days.
Microwave each serving of baked ziti for about 3 minutes to reheat them. You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the ziti, cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350℉ (176° C).
You can freeze the ziti by putting it in a sealed container with very little air around it. It will keep in the fridge for up to three months.
Some Pro Tips For Making Ziti Without Meat
- If you can’t find ziti, then use penne pasta. If you are gluten-free, there is a variety of gluten-free pasta on the market. You can purchase them in the most popular chain supermarkets, health food stores, or on Amazon.
- I prepared a cashew cheese sauce to be added to the recipe. You can substitute the cashews for blanched almonds, but you should blend the sauce using a high-speed blender for a creamier sauce.
- There are many plant-based ground beef or sausage brands on the market; they are sold at health food stores and major supermarkets. You can substitute with my Vegan Black Bean Burger broken up in pieces.
- I used a jar of marinara sauce, but you can substitute it with tomato sauce, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes.
- Make your own cashew cheese, but you can also buy non-dairy cheese shreds from the store. However, make certain your cheese isn’t made of nuts! This is something I do from time to time to save time.
- Vegan Parmesan cheese can be used instead of mozzarella non-dairy cheese.
- For a bright pop of green, you can add extra veggies in the cheese sauce like peas, spinach, or steamed broccoli.
- Use a potato masher if you’re having trouble breaking up the vegan ground meat.
- Add red pepper flakes to make the sauce spicy. Spices bring back to life when they are toasted at this point in the cooking process.
Other Amazing Vegan Casseroles To Try
- Vegan Cauliflower Casserole
- Vegan Pastelon (Plantain Lasagna)
- Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
- Mexican-Style Quinoa Casserole
What’s The Difference Between Penne And Ziti?
End shape: The cut ends of ziti and penne are the most obvious difference between them: A square-angle cut distinguishes ziti, while an angle cut distinguishes penne, giving them a pointed appearance.
Is Plant-Based Ground Meat Healthy?
You’ve probably noticed a rise in the popularity of plant-based meats. These plant-based ingredients can be utilized in recipes that would otherwise call for meat, making them suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.
According to my own experience as a vegan, numerous plant-based foods are just as delicious as meat. For example, there are meatballs, hot dogs, meatless burgers, bacon, crumbled ground beef, and even deli slices available.
Many of them are so delicious and versatile that those who do not strictly adhere to a plant-based diet love them as well.
Despite growing popularity, you might be wondering if plant-based meat substitutes are actually nutritious.
The most common types of plant-based ground meats are made from soy products or pea protein. Plant-based ingredients provide a variety of important micronutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. However, some plant-based meat may be high in calories and sodium so check the labels before buying.
Are Cashews Healthy?
Yes! Cashews are a good source of plant protein and fiber; they’re low in sugar and rich in heart-healthy fats. Additionally, they are high in copper, magnesium, and manganese, all of which are necessary for brain health, immunity, bone health, and energy production.
Because of their high levels of carotenoids and polyphenolic antioxidants, cashews may help to reduce inflammation while also protecting against disease.
Are Nutritional Yeast Flakes Good For Health?
Yes! Nutritional Yeast Flakes are a staple in our kitchen. It has a cheesy, nutty, or savory flavor. In addition, it is a vegan source of protein, B vitamins, and trace minerals that are necessary for optimal health.
It contains a high amount of vitamin B12, which helps prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans. In addition, glutathione and selenomethionine, two antioxidants found in nutritional yeast, may help protect your body from oxidative stress-induced chronic diseases.
Is Marinara Sauce Healthy?
Sure is! Marinara sauce is an incredibly healthy alternative to other pasta sauces. Why? Because it’s tomato-based. Tomatoes are a fruit (yes, a fruit) and are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. They’re also relatively low in calories, so eating marinara sauce is an easy way to get a nutritional boost for your pasta dish without adding too many calories to your meal.
However, some may contain sugar and artificial ingredients, which can be unhealthy for you. But if you make your own from scratch, or choose a high-quality brand that makes theirs from real tomatoes and spices, then there’s nothing wrong with eating some now and again.
How Can I Prepare It Ahead Of Time?
You can also make this dish ahead of time. Assemble the ziti, cover it with foil, and store it in the fridge for up to three days. Then, when you’re ready to cook it, just take it out and put it in the oven, and bake. Because it’ll be frozen in the fridge, you’ll need to bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Make It Gluten-Free By Taking These Guidelines.
Use a gluten-free noodle that is firm. I find that corn or quinoa-based noodles hold up the best in baked ziti. When rice noodles are baked, they become mushy and lose their shape. Because they’ll continue to cook in the oven when they bake, make sure the noodles are al dente.
Have fun, buddies! Please feel free to comment below if you try these Vegan Baked Mac & Cheese and let me know how they turned out! Many thanks.
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- Energy: 353 kcal / 1476 kJ
- Fat: 15 g
- Protein: 15 g
- Carbs: 40 g
- Preparation: 10 min
- Cooking: 35 min
- Ready in: 45 min
- For: 12 Servings
- 1 pound ziti, I used brown rice penne
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, or olive oil
- 1 pack vegan ground meat alternative, (I used Lightlife Plant Based Ground Beef)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 26 ounces Marinara sauce
- parsley, for garnish
- basil, for garnish
- salt, to taste
Cashew Cheese Sauce
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and set aside in a large bowl.
- Prepare the cashew sauce, place cashew, water, nutritional flakes, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a high-speed blend and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Lightly spray with oil or brush a large casserole pan (9x13"), set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegan ground meat and saute, until brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, Italian seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in marinara sauce until heated through. Season with salt to taste. Combine sauce mixture, vegan cheese sauce, and half the vegan mozzarella with the pasta.
- Spread the pasta in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. Garnish with parsley and bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve.