If you love pasta and lasagna, you’ll love this easy vegan baked ziti! It has the beautiful layering process of lasagna but uses regular pasta instead of sheets.
I love how it marries those two popular Italian dishes together.
Baked ziti is typically made using a layering system of marinara sauce (usually with either ground meat or sausage), pasta (normally ziti, which looks like penne, but is cut straight with no pattern), ricotta and finished with mozzarella and parmesan.
Traditionally, not a very vegan-friendly meal.
To make things simpler (and vegan-friendly, of course), I’ve decided to omit the ricotta, sausage or other faux meats and focus on creating a delicious tomato sauce and a creamy, rich vegan white sauce that brings it all together nicely.
I’ve also decided to use ingredients that you’ll have in your pantry, opting out of using expensive vegan cheeses or obscure ingredients.
This dish, however, doesn’t compromise on flavour!
So if you’re looking for a fuss-free lasagna style dish, then this baked pasta dish will be a winner!
I have been making lasagna for years, but only on special occasions. Because let’s be honest, who wants to spend two hours in the kitchen preparing a meal?
Only recently did I start thinking of doing it a much quicker and easier way with a pasta bake instead.
You still get that rich flavour, oozy sauce, and layers but in half the time!
The use of red bell peppers gives the tomato sauce a beautiful depth and a richer flavour.
If you’re after a meal that the whole family will enjoy (vegan or not), then this meal will affordably feed a large group of people.
It can also easily be made gluten-free. Just switch out the normal pasta for gluten-free pasta! As easy as that.
Tips for the pasta used in this vegan baked ziti
Make sure that you undercook the pasta as it will keep cooking when you’ve put it in the oven. So to make sure you don’t get a mushy (still delicious) meal, cook it for a couple of minutes less than the instructions suggest.
So for example, if it says 13-15 minutes, cook it for 10 minutes.
You can use a few different pasta varieties. I’ve made it with penne, rigatoni and fusilli. I don’t have easy access to ziti, so this is why I haven’t used it in this recipe.
Don’t swap the tapioca starch
The reason you add a few tablespoons of tapioca starch to the white sauce is so that it has that the “cheese” topping binds together well.
Don’t swap it out for cornstarch or arrowroot as it won’t give the same effect. This is not to thicken it but to provide it with the slight stretch as a regular cheese would. If you don’t have access to it, just don’t use it.
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This vegan baked ziti is:
- Great meal for the whole family
- Super simple
- Easily made gluten-free
If you try this recipe, let me know! I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram, or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest. Or pin it to make later!
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
A rich and creamy simple vegan pasta bake that the whole family will love!
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium red bell peppers (capsicums), cored and diced
- 2 tbsp dried Italian herb mix (or a mix of parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
- 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
- 680g passata
- Chilli powder to taste (optional)
- 500g rigatoni, penne or ziti pasta
- Salt to taste
- Firstly, prepare the cashews for the white sauce. In a bowl, add the cashews and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Set aside.
- In a large pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and onions and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Add in the garlic and saute for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Now add in the peppers and mix well. Cook for a further few minutes.
- Add in the herbs, diced tomatoes, passata, and 1 cup of water (I’ll normally get the excess liquid out of the tomato can and passata jar with the water I use). Stir well and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
- While the tomato sauce is simmering, cook the pasta. Add pasta to salted boiling water and cook a few minutes less than the required cooking time. My pasta box said 12-14 minutes, so I cooked it for 9 minutes. You want it to be slightly under as it will continue cooking in the oven. Drain when finished.
- Now to make the white sauce. Drain the soaking cashews and add the rest of the white sauce ingredients (except the tapioca starch) and blend until smooth.
- Separate half of the white sauce and add the tapioca starch to the blender and blend for a few seconds to incorporate. The sauce in the blender will be your pasta bake topping. It should be around 550ml.
- Once the tomato sauce is finished, season to taste. Mix just enough tomato sauce through the pasta so that it doesn’t stick to each other – Around ½ cup. Now you’re ready to assemble in baking dish.
- On the bottom of the baking dish, add ½ cup of tomato sauce, followed by half the pasta. Pour over the half of the tomato sauce, followed by the white sauce (without the tapioca starch). Continue layering with the rest of the pasta, tomato sauce and topped with the other half of the white sauce (with tapioca starch). Spread evenly. It may seem like a lot of liquid, but don’t worry, the pasta soaks it up and it creates a rich sauce when done.
- Bake in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes. Or until the top has started to brown a little.
- Remove from oven and let sit for around 10 minutes before cutting into it if you want a clean slice. Otherwise, dig in!
Other great vegan recipes:
- Hearty Vegan Minestrone Soup
- My Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese (Vegan)
- 3-Ingredient Cabbage Pasta
- Three Incredibly Simple Silverbeet Recipes
- Creamy Pumpkin and Capsicum Penne