Vegan baked ziti: a rich hearty and easy pasta bake that’s meatless, dairy free and tastes incredible, with ziti noodles, vegan ground beef, best homemade tomato sauce and vegan cheese. Delicious weeknight comfort food. Reminiscent of lasagna but without the fuss. Vegetarian, nut free, healthy!
- 1 tablespoon or so olive oil
- 1 medium-large yellow onion, diced
- 3–5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 large cans of diced tomatoes (796 ml/28 oz each), pulsed in food processor. I like San Marzano diced tomatoes but any variety will do😊
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian better than bouillon no beef soup base
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups vegan ground beef, I used gardein beefless ground (see notes for more options)
- 1/2 container vegan cream cheese (4 oz), I used Daiya (kite hill is great too)
- 1– 200 gram block of vegan cheese, grated ( I like Daiya Monterey Jack or mozzarella for this- I do not like the pre shredded bags of vegan cheese)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened non dairy plant milk
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- Preheat oven to 375° lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish, set aside. I use my deep dish lasagna pan.
- Cook ziti pasta according to package instructions, add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil to pasta water. (Ideally noodles should be al dente as it will be baked too) Drain but do not rinse, toss with a little olive oil and pour into the prepared casserole dish
- While pasta is cooking start the sauce: Heat large pot to medium heat (I use my Dutch Oven), add the oil, onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes or so until onions have softened. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, 30 seconds or so.
- Now stir in the rest of sauce ingredients except the cream cheese and vegan ground beef. Reduce the heat to a good simmer and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and meatless crumbles. Taste for seasonings- add salt and pepper if necessary.
- For the cheese sauce: (I make this while the sauce is cooking) Add the grated cheese, vegan butter, plant milk and mustard to a medium sauce pot. Cook over medium heat while stirring until the cheese is all melty and gooey. This just takes a couple of minutes.
- To assemble Baked Ziti: add sauce to noodles and mix together. Pour cheese sauce evenly over the top.
- Cover tightly with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for a couple of minutes to brown cheese slightly (optional). Enjoy! Great served it with a simple green salad, spinach salad or vegan caesar salad and either my no knead bread or garlic bread! Could add a side of veggies too, like peas, broccoli, carrots,..etc For step by step photos see above post.
- For gluten free baked ziti: use gluten free pasta noodles, if you can’t find ziti noodles use similar size like rigatoni or penne
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days and are awesome meal prep for lunch!
- vegan ground beef options: I like Gardein for this and I also like beyond ground beef or sausage. If using beyond meat or sausage (remove from casing) , fry separately in skillet first then add to prepared sauce.
- To cook baked ziti from frozen: No need to bake the ziti before freezing because it’s essentially cooked already. So once it’s assembled cool to room temperature. Wrap the casserole dish tightly in plastic wrap, then tin foil and freeze. To bake from frozen: Preheat oven to 350° remove plastic and foil rewrap in new foil and bake for 70-90 minutes or so until heated through. Uncover and broil for a few minutes if desired to brown the cheese slightly. If thawed overnight in fridge: bake for approximately 50 minutes.
- If just freezing leftover ziti I would recommend portioning and reheating in microwave😊
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