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This cheesy, healthy, baked vegan pasta recipe is so easy to make and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients. It’s loaded with roasted veggies, gooey vegan cheese, and paired with a rich tomato sauce – it’s a meal that the whole family will enjoy!
Baked ziti (or if you like penne better than ziti – baked penne pasta) is traditionally made with white pasta and loaded with cheese, sometimes meat, and very few vegetables — which makes it refined carb heaven, but not that great for you.
But why can’t a pasta bake be healthy too? My healthy pasta bake is comforting, homey, amazingly flavorful, but so good for you that you could literally eat it every day – completely guilt-free. This is one of my favorite vegan recipes to prepare for my non-vegan friends and family because they absolutely love it, and don’t even know it’s vegan!
The first time I made this my husband LOVED it – he said it was hearty and couldn’t believe it was vegan too! This dish was inspired by a recipe I found from Giada De Laurentis – which is more like a traditional meatless baked ziti.
With a few simple swaps, my vegan baked ziti recipe is healthier and doesn’t skimp on any of the flavors from the original!
See the recipe card for complete measurements and instructions for this veggie baked ziti. You can also find all of the ingredients at your local grocery store.
Pasta: I used whole wheat pasta for added whole grains, but you can use any kind of pasta you like! Whole wheat, chickpea pasta, lentil pasta, or quinoa pasta would all taste great in this dairy free pasta bake. Follow the package directions and make sure to cook the pasta al dente.
Fresh Veggies: I chose zucchini, cremini mushrooms, onions, red bell pepper, and peas, but this dish is so versatile you can add any combination of vegetables you like!
Seasoning and Herbs: fresh basil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes
Vegan Cheese: I used vegan mozzarella, but you could use vegan parmesan cheese or any dairy-free cheese you like. You can also nutritional yeast if you don’t want to use vegan cheese.
Sauce: Use your favorite store-bought marinara sauce to save time! Just make sure it has no added sugar.
Change Up The Veggies: You can use any veggies you have on hand in this vegan pasta bake recipe! Try a combination of your favorite vegetables – other types of squashes, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, asparagus, spinach, or artichokes would all work well in this easy pasta bake!
Gluten Free Vegan Pasta Casserole: Use your favorite gluten-free pasta instead of the whole wheat pasta to make this baked vegan pasta gluten-free! I like using a lentil or chickpea pasta to increase the protein in this dish. If you use a lentil/chickpea pasta, you want to cook it for half the time listed on the package (so if it calls for 9 minutes of cooking time, you want to cook it for about 5 minutes before mixing it with the veggies/sauce/cheese and baking it).
Vegetarian Baked Ziti: You can easily make this pasta bake vegetarian by using ziti pasta instead of penne, and use regular mozzarella instead of the vegan mozzarella!
Step 1: Chop all the veggies and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Step 2: On a baking sheet (or in a casserole dish/large pan), toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, reduce to medium heat and cook for about 6 minutes. Don’t overcook your pasta! It will cook a second time in the oven, so you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain and set aside.
Step 4: Once the veggies are done toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. If you used a large casserole dish/pan to roast the veggies in, you can add the cooked pasta into that pan to mix the whole thing together (that’s what I’d recommend!). Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.
Step 5: Top the pasta with the remaining cheese (about 1/3 cup). The cheese turns this recipe into a super creamy vegan pasta bake!
Step 6: Bake until the top is golden and the cheese melts for about 25 minutes. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. I love how gooey and bubbly the vegan cheese gets once it’s all melted! The veggies are perfectly cooked, and the whole wheat pasta gives the dish a great nutty quality. It’s a filling and balanced meal. If you’d like to add more protein, you can use lentil pasta.
What makes vegan baked pasta healthy?
These simple healthy swaps make this baked penne pasta decadent, and luxurious, but one serving has only 350 calories and 8.5 grams of fat! Here’s how to make baked penne pasta healthy:
Use whole-wheat penne pasta, lentil pasta, or chickpea pasta for whole grain, high fiber alternative to white pasta.
Tons of veggies: A mix of squashes, mushrooms, and peppers adds fiber and antioxidants to this dish. You can even add 4 cups of chopped baby spinach to your marinara sauce before mixing it with the pasta to sneak in some extra greens if you like!
Less Butter and Oil: 1.5 tbsp is all you need for flavor and a nice caramelized quality to the veggies
Less Cheese/Vegan Cheese: Eating healthy and vegan doesn’t mean you have to go without cheese – and is it even a pasta bake without it?! Using 1.5 cups of vegan cheese is plenty and you still get that gooey, melted cheese crust on top!
How Do you serve vegan baked pasta?
This vegan ziti is so hearty and satisfying you could just serve it all on its own! Feel free to top with lemon juice, or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of black pepper, and fresh basil. For a slightly bigger meal, serve with a simple green salad and garlic bread!
How do you store baked vegan pasta?
Refrigerator: Allow the leftover pasta bake to cool completely. You can cover the baking dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or transfer it to an airtight container. The pasta will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezer: Transfer the veggie pasta bake to a freezer-safe container. Write the contents and the date on the package. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Place the pasta bake in a baking dish, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 450 F.
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This cheesy, healthy, Baked Vegan Pasta recipe is so easy to make and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients. Lightened up with roasted veggies, paired with a rich tomato sauce, it’s a meal that the whole family will enjoy!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Vegan
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 servings
Chop all the veggies and preheat your oven to 450 degrees
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Don’t overcook your pasta! It will cook a second time in the oven, so you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain and set aside.
Once the veggies are done, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. If you used a large casserole dish/pan to roast the veggies in, you can just dump all of the additional ingredients (pasta etc.) into that pan to mix everything together (that’s what I’d recommend!). Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.
Top the pasta with the remaining cheese (about 1/3 cup).
Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 59.9g | Protein: 16.1g | Fat: 8.5g | Sodium: 551.2mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 10.6g