Say hello to this gorgeous and easy Vegan Baked Ziti! My family absolutely LOVED this recipe! It’s a perfect dish to please a crowd, and easy enough for a mid-week dinner. Plus it makes perfect next day leftovers (that is, if you have any leftovers).
The holidays are here and I’ve been cooking up some dishes for entertaining family (Covid measures in place, of course). And hands down, this baked ziti is one of my favourite easy dinner dishes I’ve made to really please a crowd of picky eaters.
This baked ziti is:
- Easy to make
- Protein packed
- Wholesome and comforting
- Crowd pleasing (a recipe for all types of eaters)
- Simple enough for weeknight dinners
- Gourmet enough for entertaining
- Can easily be made gluten-free using GF pasta noodles
So, let me tell you exactly how to make this Vegan Baked Ziti, so that you and your fam can enjoy it pronto!
Vegan Baked Ziti Recipe
Vegan Baked Ziti Tips & Notes
Making this baked ziti couldn’t be easier to do. Essentially, it’s helpful to think of the recipe in sections. Starting with making your pasta sauce, followed by the cashew cheese sauce, and then boiling the noodles. Each of these sections are simple and straight forward, and when combined it makes for a gorgeously comforting and drool-worthy dish that’s so much more than the individual elements alone.
To bake the Ziti, we will layer the sauce, noodles, and vegan cashew cheese in a casserole. Sprinkle it with store-bought vegan mozzarella (this is optional), and BAKE! See below on How to Make Vegan Baked Ziti for the step-by-step layering process.
Making sure that you boil the noodles right is essential for a perfectly tasting bake. Since we are baking the ziti, it’s important to slightly under boil the noodles as they will continue to cook in the oven.
The time allotted for boiling ziti noodles depends on the brand you buy. My recommendation is to cook them just before they are al-dente. Look at the recommendation on the packet for cooking al-dente, and then cook 3 to 4 minutes under this. For example, if your packet recommends a 10 minutes cook time, then boil the ziti noodles for 6 to 7 minutes.
You can also substitute penne noodles for the ziti noodles in this recipe, if it’s easier to find at your grocery store. In fact, that’s exactly what I did in this recipe. The recipe works just the same. If you’re interested, Wiki does a good job and explaining the difference between these two very similar pasta shapes. The Kitchn also tends to agree that both can be used with their All-Star Baked Ziti recipe.
I absolutely LOVE the cashew cheese sauce in this recipe for a creamy and cheesy vegan baked ziti. It’s a simple recipe, made with cashews and nutritional yeast. In my opinion, it makes for a better tasting baked ziti than the classic dairy version that I remember from my childhood.
This cashew cheese is smooth, creamy, cheesy and full of umami flavour. It traps in the moisture keeping the noodles soft, and it beautifully offsets the tomato sauce for a rich and cheesy bake.
I have also finished this recipe by sprinkling it with store-bought vegan mozzarella. This is optional, but I really love that extra bit of cheesy topping for a traditional style baked ziti. For this recipe, I used Daiya mozzarella cheese.
the vegan “meat” and tomato sauce
Traditionally, baked ziti uses ground beef in the tomato sauce. For this recipe, I’ve opted in for vegan “ground beef” to mimic the traditional baked ziti recipe. I recommend to use a brand like Lightlife or Beyond Meat. It’s texture and flavours is spot on, and works beautifully in this bake. Plus, it’s protein packed making this a dish that sticks with you.
If you prefer, you can still make this recipe by omitting the vegan meat entirely and keeping it “vegetarian style.”
How to make Vegan Baked Ziti (step-by-step)
Here is how you layer the ziti for baking:
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the vegan tomato sauce to a large casserole dish.
- Fill with the ziti noodles.
- Add the remaining tomato sauce.
- Drizzle with the cashew cheese.
- Sprinkle with the shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya brand)
- Bake at 350 uncovered for 25 mins.
Other recipes you might like
If you’re digging this pasta recipe, you might also like:
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Pesto Pasta
- Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
- Vegan Alfredo Sauce
- Lentil Bolognese
- Vegan Zucchini Lasagna
- Eggplant and Lentil Meatballs
So there we have it! A gorgeous vegan baked ziti that you can confidently serve to a crowd of picky eaters, whether they’re vegan or not. My family absolutely loved this vegan baked ziti, and it’s definitely going to be a regular in our household. It’s also a great dish for entertaining, and a perfect dish to bring/serve at the Holidays. I really hope that you enjoy this vegan baked ziti as much as we did.
And, if you do make this recipe please let me know in the comments below what you think! I love hearing from you. And of course, tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #twospoons. Nothing makes me happier than to see your recreations.
Vegan Baked Ziti
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews soaked and strained
- 1 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp arrowroot starch or tapioca starch, or corn starch
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
Pasta and everything else
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 red bell peppers finely chopped
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 12 oz Vegan Ground "beef" (340 g), such as Lightlife, Beyond Meat or Yves
- 23 fl oz tomato sauce (660 mL)
- 1 lb ziti noodles (450 g)
- 1 3/4 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (8 oz/200 g), shredded, such as Daiya
- Prepare the cashew cheese: in a high-speed blender add the cashews, water, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, tapioca starch, onion powder and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Drizzle the olive oil in a large deep skillet and bring to medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers and sea salt. Cook until softened, about 10 mins. Add the vegan ground "beef" and cook, stirring often until browned, about 5 mins. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a low simmer.
- Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ziti noodles. Cook until almost al-dente, about 6 mins (they should be just undercooked as they will continue cooking in the oven). Strain and add back to the pot. Scoop 1 cup of the tomato sauce and mix to combine.
- Assemble the Ziti! Scoop 1 ½ cups of the tomato sauce into a large casserole dish (8x11 inches). Smooth with a spatula into an even layer. Next add the noodles, followed by the remaining tomato sauce, and finally drizzle with the cashew cheese to cover. To finish, sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
- Place a baking tray on the bottom rack to catch any overspill, if any, and bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden around the edges.
VEGAN – SOY-FREE
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