A traditional dish with a vegan twist, this Meatless Baked Ziti is made with layers of ricotta-infused pasta, vegan provolone, veggie-sausage infused red sauce, and topped with vegan mozzarella. This easy baked ziti is one of the best vegan dishes around! Easy enough for a weeknight meal, but oh-so-perfect for a special weekend meal too. You’ll love this vegetarian baked ziti recipe, a cheesy layered dish, with every bite is full of creamy vegan ricotta, mozzarella and tangy, veggie sausage-infused tomato sauce.
“This meatless baked ziti 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.
Baked Ziti with Ricotta
Every recipe you’ve seen to date may call for meat to make a decent baked ziti, 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!
How to Cook Easy Baked Ziti
You want to make an easy vegetarian baked ziti, right? The best way is to go vegan. Why? Because vegan recipes lets 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 no meat recipe:
- ziti pasta
- olive oil
- 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 a ricotta.
Mix this creamy baked ziti ricotta 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 your 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 pasta.
- In a bowl, stir together the marinara with the veggie crumbles.
- In a 9X13 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 remaining half of ziti noodles, followed by remaining half of marinara.
- Sprinkle vegan moz 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. 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.
Can I freeze this recipe?
So, after you’ve made the simple baked ziti, the big question is can you freeze the leftovers. The answer is yes! Allow the easy 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 wit 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’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.
Do you love vegan pasta dishes? Then be sure and check out my Easy Vegan Macaroni Casserole, Vegan Garlic Pasta, or my Colorful Veggie Lasagna recipe. And don’t stop with pasta, because your vegan meal isn’t complete without my easy vegan dinner rolls, or cheesy vegan pull-apart 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
- 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.
- Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta.
- In the meantime, 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 this sauce.
- In a bowl combine the marina sauce and veggie crumbles. Stir to combine.
- 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.
- Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the veggie crumble infused marinara sauce. Top that with remaining slices of the vegan provolone cheese. Then follow with remaining pasta, followed by the mozzarella.
- 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.