This Meatless Baked Ziti Recipe is a savory, delicious Italian casserole dish. Think of it as a traditional Italian dish with a vegan twist. You’ll love this Vegetarian Baked Ziti, made with layers of ricotta-infused pasta, vegan provolone, veggie-sausage infused red sauce, and topped with vegan mozzarella. It’s a favorite go-to recipe!
“This meatless baked ziti recipe may be my favorite vegan Italian dish.”
That’s what Shawn said to me after he reheated a batch I had stored in the freezer. Yes, people, I am a big fan of freezer-friendly dishes. I oftentimes will make several different meals at once and freeze half of them. That way we don’t have too many, “what’s for dinner — I dunno” moments.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Dairy-free ricotta is added to the noodles to make make a flavor-infused foundation
- Vegan provolone cheese is added between the layers to add cheesiness to every bite
- Veggie crumbles add plant-based protein, texture, and flavor, making this an irresistible weeknight casserole!
How to Make Meatless Baked Ziti
Every recipe you’ve seen to date may call for meat to make a decent baked ziti easy, but I’m here to show you another way. It’s easy to make baked ziti vegan!
This delicious meatless baked ziti uses veggie crumbles some of which are so good, many an omnivore have been fooled by them.
You know those taste tests where people who think they’re wine experts are fooled by cheap wine? That’s similar to what I’m saying here.
I mean, look at those meaty veggie crumbles!
Baked Ziti Ingredients
You want to make an easy vegetarian baked ziti, right? The best way is to go vegan. Why? Because vegan recipes let you skip the step of cooking the meat. You go straight to combining veggie crumbles with the red sauce. Perfect!
Here are the ingredients in this baked ziti recipe:
- Ziti pasta — Sometimes ziti is harder to find. If so, you can substitute penne pasta
- Olive oil — I use extra virgin olive oil
- Onion — My go-to favorite is a yellow onion
- Garlic — This quintessential Italian ingredient is important in this ziti recipe
- Extra-firm tofu — We’ll use tofu
- vegan provolone (found at Sprouts, Natural Grocers, etc)
- mild miso paste
- fresh basil
- veggie crumbles
- vegan mozzarella
That’s a list of ingredients for this vegetarian ziti, most of which I can find in the health food section of my local grocery store. The vegan provolone is one exception. I have to buy that at Sprouts or a health food store.
You could make this without the vegan provolone, but it’s well worth the trip.
Can you make baked ziti without ricotta?
You can make baked ziti without ricotta but using this vegan creamy ricotta-like mixture. I combine tofu with onions, garlic, miso paste, and fresh basil to create a creamy mixture that is a perfect ricotta substitute.
I also add a few slices of that vegan ricotta. It adds some of the tang you often find in ricotta.
Mix this creamy baked ziti ricotta with the cooked ziti noodles. Be sure to stir gently!
Can you make baked ziti without meat?
You can make this meatless baked ziti by using veggie crumbles. If you don’t have access to the kind you can buy in the store, you can make your homemade veggie sausage crumbles by adding the right spices to things like sweet potatoes or even oatmeal.
Add the veggie crumbles to the red sauce and then follow my process for layers of flavor!
How to Make Meatless Baked Ziti
It’s easy to make this meatless baked ziti with ricotta. The best way is to create layers with the ingredients. Here are some basic steps to follow:
- Combine the onion, garlic, tofu, miso paste, fresh basil, and a few slices of vegan provolone in a food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth. A few lumps will do.
- Pour the cream sauce over cooked and drained ziti noodles. Stir gently to coat the pasta.
- In a bowl, stir together the marinara with the veggie crumbles.
- In a 9×13 dish, spread half of the creamy pasta, spreading it evenly across the pan.
- Top that with half of the marinara sauce, followed by 6 slices of vegan provolone.
- Next, add the remaining half of the ziti noodles, followed by the remaining half of the marinara.
- Sprinkle vegan mozz on top and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and return to the oven until the edges get crispy.
That’s it for this meatless ziti. See? I said this is another one of my easy vegan recipes! Of course, there’s also that part about cooking the pasta. I love these tips from BBC Food on cooking perfect pasta.
I’m using veggie crumbles, however, you can also add some vegetarian pepperoni to the mix for even more flavor!
Can I freeze this Ziti Bake?
So, after you’ve made this simple baked ziti, the big question is can you freeze the leftovers? The answer is yes! Allow the best baked ziti recipe to come to room temperature and then transfer to freezer-safe containers and place in the freezer.
This veggie baked ziti casserole can keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Of course, you can also keep leftovers in the fridge. They should last up to 5 days.
Make this easy baked ziti with ricotta part of your meal prepping because it’s perfect (and easy) to make on the weekends and easy to enjoy in lunches and dinners the rest of the week!
What is Ziti? Or…What’s the difference between penne and ziti pasta?
There’s a lot in common between the penne and the ziti noodles, but the major difference is penne noodles are cut at a diagonal. This creates a pointed tip on the ends, kind of like a pen or scroll, thus the name penne. Ziti noodles are cut straight.
Does it matter? Personally, I’ve found it difficult to find ziti noodles, especially if you’re looking for gluten-free or whole wheat noodles. You can easily substitute penne noodles in this meatless baked ziti.
Vegan Pasta Recipes
Do you love baked pasta recipes? Then be sure and check these out:
- This is the easiest recipe out there, my Vegan Macaroni Casserole
- Everyone goes crazy for this Vegan Garlic Pasta
- Make this delicious Vegan Lasagna recipe today
- Use this creamy Cashew Ricotta as an alternative filling or serve it as a side dish for those who like something to dip their bread in
- And don’t stop with pasta, because your easy vegan meal isn’t complete without bread. You’ll love these Vegan Dinner Rolls, or Vegan Pull-Apart Bread, or how about this simple, but tasty Vegan Garlic Bread!
Meatless Baked Ziti
- 1 box ziti pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion , peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups extra firm tofu , cut into cubes
- 12 slices vegan provolone cheese*
- 1 tablespoon mild miso paste
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 3 cups marinara sauce look at the ingredients and make sure it’s vegan
- 2 cups veggie crumbles
Baked Ziti Assembly
- 1 cup vegan mozzarella shreds
- Heat your oven to 375F. Spray the inside (bottom and sides) of a 9X13 baking dish with vegetable cooking spray.
- Cook Pasta. Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta.
For the Vegan Ricotta
- Make Vegan Ricotta. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, tofu, and miso paste to a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add half of the provolone slices and the fresh basil and pulse again. It's ok to leave bits of the cheese and basil showing in the ricotta.
For the Vegan Meaty Marinara
- Make Vegan "Meaty" Marina: In a bowl combine the marina sauce and veggie crumbles. Stir to combine.
Baked Ziti Assembly
- Combine Cooked Pasta & Ricotta. By now your pasta should be done. Add to a colander and drain excess liquid. Run some cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking process. Return it to the pan it was cooked in and add the vegan ricotta mixture. Stir gently, until all the pasta is coated.
- Assemble Ziti. Layer one: Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the "meaty" marinara sauce. Top that with remaining slices of the vegan provolone cheese. Layer two: Add remaining pasta, followed by the remaining marinara sauce. Top with vegan mozzarella.
- Cover & Bake. Cover the dish with foil and place the baking dish in your heated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- Remove the foil and return to the oven and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes, until the edges of the pasta are golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes or so.
- Add additional chopped basil leaves for garnish. Serve warm.
- Refrigerate leftovers in sealed containers for up to 5 days or transfer leftovers to freezer friendly containers and freeze for up to 2 months.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
See? It’s easy to make this baked ziti recipe meatless! Enjoy!