To make a GREAT vegan baked ziti, all you need is a few special ingredients! Everyone in my house loves pasta, especially in the wintertime. There is just something about a vegan baked ziti recipe that warms me from the inside out.
One of the best things I love about this recipe is making it in advance and cooking it when I'm ready.
To tell the truth, I entice my kids with good food, so they keep coming home!
What is ziti pasta?
Ziti is smaller than rigatoni noodles. Although some Ziti noodles may have smooth sides, most resemble mini rigatoni noodles with lines or ridges on the pasta's outer surface. Similar to penne, the ziti noodle's ends cut in a straight line versus diagonally.
However, the vegan ziti pasta recipe is a layered, cheesy, delicious baked casserole to die for!
How to make cashew basil cheese sauce for vegan baked ziti
Even though there are tons of vegan cheese options today, I prefer to make my own. Like my Vegan Lasagna recipe, I make my own basil cashew cheese, which is creamy and goes perfectly with vegan baked ziti.
However, if you have a nut allergy, I also make an oil-free, nut-free Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe, which works great with this baked ziti recipe.
I adore cashews, and they make the BEST creamy sauce for ziti, so if you aren't allergic to nuts, give this cheese sauce a try.
Ingredients in cashew basil cheese sauce
- Raw cashews, soaked overnight
- Organic vegetable broth
- Lemon juice
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Fresh basil, tightly packed
- Nutritional yeast
Homemade marinara vs. jarred marinara for vegan baked ziti
Since I prefer to make as many recipes as I can with homemade sauces and cheese, I also make my own oil-free marinara sauce. Often, I find it difficult to find a jarred sauce without a bunch of sugar, oil, and other preservatives.
With that being said, I understand that everyone doesn't have time for making their own sauce. However, I do make my marinara sauce ahead of time and freeze it, so when I want to make a recipe like baked ziti, it can thaw it quickly.
But, if you don't want to make your own marinara sauce, I have a few favorite jarred sauces you may want to consider.
- DeLallo Marinara Sauce
- Muir Glen Organic Portobello Mushroom Pasta Sauce
- Pomi Tomato Sauce (add Italian Seasoning, and it's marinara sauce)
- 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods)
- Engine 2 Marinara Sauce (Whole Foods)
- Yellow onion
- POMI tomato paste
- POMI chopped tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes chopped)
- Red wine (I used red Zinfandel)
- Salt to taste
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Vegetable broth
Where's the meat in the vegan baked ziti? Vegan lentil meat, of course!
Vegan baked ziti, although plant-based, needs a little "meat" to taste similar to authentic baked ziti. For that reason, I chose to make lentil meat to incorporate with my cheesy, saucy noodles.
Most ziti recipes do not have vegetables, but I decided to throw some into my lentil meat for a double meat texture to the vegan ziti since I love mushrooms.
Of course, you can cook lentils beforehand, but I buy Trader Joe's steamed brown lentils available in the produce section for a quick and easy option for a quick and easy option.
Ingredients in lentil meat
- Yellow onion
- Mushrooms (I used white button mushrooms)
- Organic diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- Vegetable broth
- Cooked brown lentils (I used Trader Joes 17.6 ounce package of steamed, cooked lentils)
- Oregano (fresh is best)
- Fresh chopped basil
How to layer the delicious ingredients for the perfect vegan baked ziti
Begin with a thin layer of Vegan Marinara Sauce in the bottom of the casserole pan. As a result, the pasta and other ingredients won't stick.
Then add half the noodles, followed by the lentil meat mixture.
Next, add a layer of creamy vegan cashew basil cheese sauce, followed by more marinara sauce.
Once the first layers are executed, start again with the rest of the noodles, more lentil meat, basil cheese sauce, and topped with Vegan Marinara Sauce.
Additionally, I enjoy some Vegan Parmesan Cheese to cook at the end for the last 10 minutes for a crispy topping.
One of my favorite parts about this recipe is making it ahead of time and cooking it 30 minutes before serving dinner.
Serve with a little basis for an extra garnish! Check out this vegan baked ziti recipe for a great weeknight meal.
Do you love easy pasta dishes the whole family enjoys? These recipes will help!
- Fajita Pasta
- Bruschetta Pasta
- Lemon Pasta
- Enchilada Pasta
- Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms
- One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta
- Vegan Pasta Primavera
- Cajun Pasta
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂