Okay, I know it's January, and everyone's trying to eat healthier. But I believe we can have our comfort food and eat our veggies, too! Unlike traditional baked ziti, which is packed with dairy (and sometimes meat), this vegan baked ziti is actually GOOD for you. It has the pasta and marinara you expect (use whole-grain or gluten-free pasta if you like), but instead of dairy, the ricotta in this recipe is a classic almond ricotta, which bakes up like a creamy and comforting, dairy-free dream! If you've never tried it in a hot dish before, I promise you'll be impressed.
Just by replacing the dairy we've already made baked ziti light-years healthier. But we're not stopping there. Let's also add onion, garlic, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, and a colorful red pepper to the mix, because we love vegetables, right?
Of course we do! Hard truth for any haters out there:
Eating vegetables really isn't optional if we want to be healthy. But I know it's a struggle for some people, which is exactly what I love about adding vegetables to unexpected, flavorful dishes.
Check out these layers of pasta, greens, marinara, ricotta, sautéed vegetables, and sausage. So much goodness. If you're not into vegan sausage, or you want to easily transform this into a gluten-free meal, simply omit it. And not that you have to, but if you wanted to replace the sausage, try adding white beans, tofu, or tempeh, along with some Italian spices.
Another awesome thing about this Vegan Baked Ziti:
You know how lasagna has a reputation for being a bit fussy, a bit too much work? Well, baked ziti is like lasagna's laid-back, low-maintenance best friend. You get all the amazing flavors of lasagna without the fussy assembly.
Because this recipe uses two of my favorite quick, homemade vegan cheeses, almond ricotta and cheesy sprinkle, it does require some planning. The great thing is that both can be made in advance. But if you find yourself short on time, you can substitute store-bought vegan mozzarella (pre-shredded, like Daiya, or "shred it yourself," like Miyoko's). Spread it all throughout the dish, inside and on top. Easy.
Of course, if you follow an oil-free diet, you'll want to stick with the homemade cheeses. They're worth the small amount of effort!
I hope you enjoy this Vegan Baked Ziti With Vegetables. If you try it I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, rate the recipe, and tag @myquietkitchen on instagram and show off your (rather difficult to photograph) ziti creations. 😉 Dig in!
After eating all these healthy veggies, if you're in the mood for some creamy, rich, cheesy, decadent, award-winning! mac and cheese, check out -----> The Best Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Vegan Baked Ziti With Vegetables
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, optional
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 10 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 1 large red pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 vegan Italian sausage links, such as No Evil Foods, Field Roast or Tofurky, chopped *No Evil Foods is oil-free and can be ordered online (in the US) if not available where you live.
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- pinch of salt
- 1 pound ziti
- 8 ounces collard greens or kale
- 4 cups (about 1 1/2 jars) of your favorite marinara sauce (for oil-free be sure to check labels)
- 1 1/2 cups almond ricotta
- black pepper
- Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle
- fresh basil for garnish
Saute the vegetables and sausage:
- Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the tablespoon of oil, if using. Cook the onion until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and red pepper, and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the garlic, sausage, oregano, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook 4 to 5 minutes more or until the sausage is hot.
Cook the pasta:
- Fill a large pot with water and cook pasta according to package directions, setting a timer. With two minutes left on the timer, add the collard greens/kale to the pasta pot. Drain in a colander.
Assemble the baked ziti:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scoop about half of the pasta/greens into a 9x13 casserole dish. Top with half the marinara. Gently spread the marinara around so that the pasta is well covered. Add dollops of the ricotta on top off the sauce, using about half of it. Spoon the sautéed vegetable mixture onto the ricotta layer. Add black pepper, if desired. Then repeat the layers: pasta, sauce, ricotta, vegetables, black pepper. Ensure any exposed pasta is covered with sauce.
- Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes. Top with Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle and bake 5 minutes more or until the center of the ziti is hot. Garnish with more cheesy sprinkle (or shredded vegan mozzarella) and fresh basil.