Vegan Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese (Easy + Oil-Free Option)

February 20, 2019

Entree

By: Jasmine Briones 

We are so excited to share with you our take on this Italian classic. Get ready for the best vegan baked ziti recipe out there! Moist and creamy, filled with homemade vegan mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and just like grandma used to make. It’s easy to make, perfect for weeknight dinners and too dang good to pass up on.

Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

If you’ve been on our blog before, you know that we love to veganize recipes that we grew up enjoying. Since Chris’ family is Italian, we knew that a baked ziti recipe needed to come to the blog at some point. He said that he used to eat my weight in baked ziti and that there was a big tray of homemade baked ziti at every holiday and family party they had. One of our followers from Instagram had messaged us a few months ago asking if we could recreate this classic Italian dish and, well, challenge accepted 😉

Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

I’ll be honest and say that the only baked ziti I had before going vegan was from Sbarro’s…but hey, it was still pretty dang good. My experience definitely wasn’t enough for me to gauge whether or not my vegan recreation was legit, but luckily Chris was able to swoop in and save the day. He grew up eating real deal homemade baked ziti from his mama sooo we all basically have to thank him for this recipe because we couldn’t have done it without him.

After doing my research and turning to Chris’ past experiences for this recipe, I think we nailedddd this one.

Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

Developing this recipe was so much fun, and we are still amazed by how delicious it turned out. For the filling, we layered sauce, pasta, homemade vegan mozzarella, and homemade vegan ricotta cheese, along with the ziti pasta. We also added a special touch and used vegan sausage which brought the flavor of this dish to the next level. While the sausage is totally optional, we highly recommend it!

Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

We featured two of our homemade vegan cheeses in this recipe, our stretchy vegan mozzarella cheese and our new tofu ricotta cheese (pictured below). Both are easy to make and definitely bring this recipe to the next level.

Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

The key ingredient in the vegan mozzarella cheese is tapioca starch (flour). It may sound like a random ingredient, but it should not be left out! Once the cheese is heated, the tapioca starch starts to work it’s magic and creates a stretchy texture to the cheese. Other flours and starches will not yield the same result and it should not be left out or substituted as it is the ingredient that allows for the cheese to become nice and stretchy. For this recipe, there is no need to heat it on a pan before adding it to the baking dish as it will heat up enough in the oven to work its magic.

Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

Whether you are Italian or not, we know you’re going to love this dish. It’s perfect to make for pot lucks and parties, and we know all of your friends and family will be impressed!

Make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of our recipes, we love to see your photos!

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Vegan Baked Ziti with Tofu Ricotta Cheese

Vegan Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese (Easy + Oil-Free Option)


  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings

Description

We are so excited to share with you our take on this Italian classic. Get ready for the best vegan baked ziti recipe out there! Moist and creamy, filled with homemade vegan mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and just like grandma used to make. It’s easy to make, perfect for weeknight dinners and too dang good to pass up on.


Ingredients

Marinara Sauce with Vegan Sausage

  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 7 oz. vegan beef crumbles or crumbled sausage (optional; we used Light Life Gimme Lean)
  • 32 oz. marinara sauce* (see notes)
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or dried oregano)

Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Sauce (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight* (see notes)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)

Remaining Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ziti or penne noodles
  • ~1/2 cup vegan ricotta cheese (homemade or store-bought like Kite Hill)
  • Vegan parmesan, for garnish (optional; homemade or store-bought like Good Planet)
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and have a medium-sized baked dish ready. The dish we used was 10×8″.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta 2 minutes less than directed on the package. This will ensure that the pasta will not overcook in the oven. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.
  3. In a medium pot over medium heat, add in a few tablespoons of water (or 2 tablespoons of olive oil). Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Once cooked, add in the vegan beef crumbles*(see notes), break them up with the back of your spoon if needed and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the marinara, basil, and Italian seasoning, and stir through. Allow the sauce to simmer for 3 minutes more and then remove from heat. Set aside until assembly.
  4. Once the noodles are cooked, drain and add them back to the pot. Mix about 1/4 of the sauce into the noodles so that don’t dry out.
  5. Prepare the vegan mozzarella cheese by simply blending together all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
  6. To assemble, grab your baking dish of choice and add a few tablespoons of sauce onto the bottom. Spread the sauce as best you can, it does not have to be completely covered. Add in a thin layer of pasta, followed by a layer of sauce, a drizzle of mozzarella cheese, and then a sprinkle of the vegan ricotta. Continue until you fill the pan or run out of ingredients, we used 4 layers of each.
  7. Place the dish into the middle rack of the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove and allow the ziti to cool. The longer you let it cool, the easier it is to cut into slices and serve.
  8. Garnish the ziti with fresh parsley and vegan parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Be sure to double check the ingredients on the marinara sauce–some have dairy!
  • If you would like to speed up the cashew soaking process, simply add the cashews to a large bowl, cover them with boiling water and allow that to sit for 20-3o minutes. Drain the cashews and you should be good to go!
  • If you are having a hard time breaking up the beef crumbles, you can use a potato masher after you add in the sauce to make things easier.
  • This recipe can be made completely oil-free if an oil-free marinara sauce is used and the sausage is left out.
  • This recipe can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Keep in mind that as it sits, the noodles may start to absorb some of the liquid. It is best served the day of making it but is still delicious either way.
  • The nutrition facts do not take into consideration the addition of the parmesan.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Oven, Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian

Keywords: Baked Ziti, Italian, Entree, Vegan, Easy, Oil-Free

Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.

Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. GIULIA says:

    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS:D

  2. Baked ziti was a childhood beloved of mine aside from every pasta dish under the sun. I’m kind of over pasta now, but honestly, this dish looks absolutely brilliant with the cheese, perfectly plated noodles, and vibrant sauce! The vegan ricotta and addition of vegan sausage or beef are so clever because they really add heartiness to the dish!

  3. Kimberly Ronca says:

    Made this a few weeks ago. Absolutely wonderful. Making it again today. Will snap a picture. My husband is very resistant to most of my vegan recipes but he willing ate this until the leftovers were gone. I shared your link with my vegan daughter. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!

  4. Michelle says:

    Can you freeze this casserole?

  5. jamie vega says:

    How many people does this recipe serve?

  6. Suzanne Turbyfill says:

    Great and easy ziti recipe! I did the quick soak for the cashews and worked out perfectly. I did not have the vegan ricotta, so I just added shredded vegan mozzarella and it was fine. I’m sure the ricotta is amazing as well, will try that next time. Everyone raved and went back for seconds. Thank you!

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