Vegan pasta bake is the perfect family meal that doesn't take hours to make! Simplify with store bought ingredients or make your own.
This post was originally published on July 16, 2015.
While this isn't a quick throw together meal, I have definitely simplified it to make it easy to prep. Use store bought ingredients for the days you don't want to spend a lot of time, or make your own when you prefer!
Baked ziti or pasta bake is a dish mixing a pasta (ziti or another shape of choice) with sauce and then layering it with ricotta and more sauce. You can top it off with Parmesan or other cheese of choice.
To make this quick and easy, I also tried it with a few hacks using store bought items.
Here are the basic ingredients I used:
For the ricotta, you can buy a store bought option (there are many dairy free ones out there now) or make your own. This vegan ricotta recipe is easy and can be frozen in batches for future use.
For the pasta, I use gluten-free but regular works as well. They key is to know how it cooks. You want to make sure you cook it for only half the needed time for an al dente result. Or 2-3 minutes less that the box states for a softer texture.
For the sauce, I have two options in the recipe. You can make it from scratch by using canned tomatoes and spices as stated, or if you want to make it super quick, buy a jarred sauce and simple add it to the chopped beans.
To top it all off, I like to use my vegan Parmesan recipe. But you can also use some shredded cheese, there are many dairy free options out there. Either way, the flavor in the sauce is amazing and adds plenty if you want to avoid the cheese.
You could also top this with a vegan cream sauce like this Alfredo sauce.
How to Make Pasta Bake
This is a pretty straight forward recipe with many options to make it nice and quick. Here is what you do:
- Sauté the chopped beans, garlic and onion in a pot.
- Add the tomato sauce to make the "meat sauce."
- Make the ricotta if needed.
- Cook the pasta and mix it with some ricotta and sauce.
- Start to build the pasta by layering as follows: pasta mixture, ricotta, sauce, pasta, sauce, cheese
- Bake and serve!
Tips and Tricks
Here are some of my most suggested tips to make this recipe a success!
- You can use a glass, metal or stoneware pan for this. If your pan is prone to sticking, you may want to rub it down with a little olive oil.
- If you want to prep this ahead of time, I suggest making the sauce and ricotta (if making homemade). Then day of cook the pasta and put it together.
- If you have leftovers, store in an air tight container in the fridge.
- To reheat, you can use the microwave, or reheat in the oven but keep a close watch to make sure it does't burn. If it looks like it may dry out, you may need to add a touch of broth. Reheat at 350 F/ 175 C for about 10 minutes.
- This is best eaten within 3 or so day of making it. After that texture and flavor aren't as great.
- If you don't want to use the beans as your protein, you can also crumble in some veggie sausage instead. You can also use my vegan meatballs.
- To add some veggies, simply chop up your favorite. I suggest broccoli, zucchini or sun dried tomatoes, but many others will work! I also like spiralizing the zucchini for an added layer of fun.
- To mix it up you can also use pesto with a tomato based sauce too. This will add more flavor and an extra dose of veggies.
- We like our pasta al dente. You can get a great result if you cook your pasta right from the beginning. You want to use a variety you know well and cooking it following my texture suggestions.
Most pasta that is found at the grocery store is 100% vegan. The one thing you should look out for is eggs as some pasta has them.
The trick is to undercook your pasta before baking. Depending on the end result you want, cook it 2-3 minutes less or up to half less. It will finish cooking in the oven and be perfect.
If you make your own cashew ricotta you can make it in big batches to freeze and use for other recipes. You can put it on pizzas, make dips with it, add it to other pasta dishes, put it on salads and even use it as a spread on toast.
No, this recipe does not need to be covered while baking. You want the extra moisture to bake out so that it does not get soggy.
You sure can. This recipe freezes and reheats really well. Wrap leftovers in plastic then foil and store in a freezer safe air tight container. When you are ready to eat, make sure you let the frozen pasta come to room temperature before reheating in the oven.
While this is a great recipe all on it's own, here are some sides that would go great!
- Sautéed Spinach
- Grilled Romaine Salad with Caesar Dressing
- Avocado Kale Salad
- Peas with Scallions and Dill
Vegan Pasta Bake Recipe
- 12 ounces ziti or penne pasta , or your favorite shape, gluten-free if needed
- 6 tablespoons reserved pasta water
- 1 cup vegan Parmesan
- 1 cup vegan ricotta
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup chopped yellow or sweet onion
- 3 cloves garlic , chopped
- Drizzle of oil or broth for oil free
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (see note)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C
- Using a food processor, coarsely chop the lentils and chickpeas until crumbled like a meaty texture.
- Saute the onion in broth or oil until softened.
- Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.
- Add chopped beans and saute 3-4 minutes until slightly browning.
- Add in the tomatoes, spices and salt (or 3 cups store bought sauce) and mix well. Put on low to heat while you cook the pasta.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, but 2-3 minutes under cooked for softer texture or half cooked for more al dente.
- Drain, reserving the needed pasta water, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Put back into the pot.
- Add ½ cup of the ricotta, 1 cup of the sauce mixture and the the reserved pasta water into the pot with the pasta and mix well.
- Add half of the pasta mixture to the bottom of a square baking dish.
- Top with spoonfuls of the leftover ricotta.
- Top with half of the leftover sauce.
- Add the rest of the noodles.
- Top with the rest of the sauce.
- Sprinkle the parmesan (or other cheese) over the top.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until just browning on top.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Instead of the tomatoes, salt and spices you can use 3 cups store bought pasta sauce. You’ll still make the “meaty” part but just dump the pasta sauce in where the directions say to put in the crushed tomatoes and spices.
- You can also add a layer of shredded cheese (vegan to keep it vegan) along with the ricotta. Use between 2-4 cups depending on preference.
- If you forget to save pasta water, just use broth.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
WINNER WINNER KALE & LENTIL DINNER!
I have never been a big fan of pasta meals but that has all changed with this dish. Absolutely my favourite meal by far now. I made it last night and ooohed & aaahed with every mouthful. (Ive actually started to salivate just writing this). Thankfully I froze some in ramekins so Im about to enjoy it all over again today, and no doubt tomorrow, and the next day, and the next...
Thank goodness for your website and for sharing your fabulousness Sophia. Thank YOU! Thanks to sites like yours Ive gone from someone who considered food simply as an inconvenient necessity, to a foodie lover who adores and appreciates the luxury of good food.
This recipe is easy, healthy, and sooo divine and I'll definitely be making this again and again.
Awe, thank you so so much for such an awesome comment! It's probably one of the best comments I've ever had. It makes me so happy to hear how much you liked it and all your kind words. It's my go to quick meal as well and my kids love it too! I hope you continue to enjoy it! Let me know if you try anything else! Thanks so much again!
Casserole was great! Everyone loved it so much that I didn't even get any leftovers the next day. (Boys will be boys) 🙂 Thanks for sharing your great ideas!
Oh wow! So great to hear! It's always a good thing when you don't have leftovers. Thanks for letting me know!
Bianca @ ElephantasticVegan
Pesto and pasta makes such an easy & delicious meal! I love the addition of the zucchini noodles 🙂
Thanks so much Bianca! Yes, such an easy and good meal! The zucchini noodles are a great addition especially since the cook al dente, which is my favorite!
Wow! This looks so yummy, Sophia! 🙂 I just love pesto!
Thank you Sina! I love pesto too, especially baked like this!
Ryan @ Feed by Round Pond
You are certainly right - this is an all in one dish! Certainly adding the Kale and Lentil balls to add a bit more protein since we're all so active.
Thanks so much Ryan! It was a huge hit with the whole fam. Created it on the fly one day as a "throw whatever I have together" type dish and it turned out so good I needed to blog about it! And the bean balls are a must for me. SO good!
NOOOOMMMM!! I just ate a 13 course meal... But i could still eat this entire bowl and then some!
LOL!! Thank you! It's quite a filling meal so you may want to wait to digest, haha! And 13 courses?! Dang, you're legit!
The Vegan 8
Girl, this is sooooo gorgeous! I love, love pasta and like I said on your last post, pesto with pasta is my favorite way to eat pesto! I bet it is so good with the sliced zucchini too, which is my favorite veggie! I love how pretty it all looks together...so much beautiful, hearty greens and goodness! I love that it is all baked together too. This would be good for a special family meal occasion!
Thank you SO much Brandi! We love pesto and pasta too! It bakes so well. The zucchini noodles bake very al dente which we love! It would be great for a big family meal! Followed up by some of that fruit punch of course. MMMMMMM
Linda @ Veganosity
This is my favorite kind of dinner, Sophia. And I'm obsessed with zucchini these days.