Vegan Baked Ziti

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Ready for the richest, heartiest, most flavor packed meatless and dairy-free pasta dinner ever? You need to try this vegan baked ziti! With a chunky cauliflower walnut sauce and creamy cashew ricotta, this meal is sure to satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike!

Well, I guess it’s about time. Perhaps you’re wondering why is it that I waited so long to share a vegan baked ziti recipe on this site? Honestly, I couldn’t think of what to do with it to make it special. Baked ziti is pretty basic and relies so heavily on meat and cheese. What could I replace them with?

I’d been rolling the ziti idea around in my head for a while, and then just last week it hit me: my cauliflower walnut spaghetti sauce would be perfect for some vegan ziti!

Have you tried this vegan meat sauce recipe? I’ve gotten so many (awesome) reviews for it, so I know a bunch of you have. But in case this one is new to you, it’s basically a super rich, intensely flavorful vegan meat sauce that uses crumbles of cauliflower and walnuts for the meat. Sound weird? It works! Trust me!

I also included some dairy-free ricotta, which is an adapted version of my basic vegan ricotta cheese recipe, and a layer of rich bechamel sauce in lieu of the traditional melted mozzarella that you’d normally find in baked ziti.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Cauliflower walnut “meat” sauce. You’ll need a full batch of this sauce for the recipe. If you have another favorite vegan Bolognese-style sauce that you’d like to try instead, be my guest. I even have a few others that might work, like my lentil Bolognese or mushroom Bolognese. You’ll need about 6 to 7 cups.
  • Dried ziti pasta. Obviously you could substitute any shape of pasta and the recipe will work, even if it’s no longer considered baked ziti. Penne is probably the option that’s most similar to ziti.
  • Olive oil.
  • Flour. We’re using all-purpose wheat flour for our bechamel sauce. Whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour will probably work just fine as well.
  • Non-dairy milk. Use a dairy-free milk that’s unflavored and unsweetened. Pretty much any variety except canned coconut milk is fine. Have a look at my guide to dairy-free milk if you need help choosing a variety.
  • Salt.
  • Raw cashews. It’s important that your cashews are raw (not roasted) in order to give the vegan ricotta the best flavor and texture.
  • Lemon juice.
  • Garlic.
  • Extra firm tofu. Regular old firm tofu can be substituted if that’s what you have on hand.

Tip: Traditional baked ziti is topped with mozzarella. I find that I don’t miss it in this recipe with the bechamel, but feel free to include a layer of shredded vegan mozzarella cheese if you’d like.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Start by making the sauce, since it takes about 50 minutes from start to finish. The sauce can be made a couple of days in advance if you’d like.
  • Cook your pasta until it’s al dente, then drain it into a colander.
  • To make the bechamel sauce, first create a roux by cooking some flour in olive oil. Whisk in non-dairy milk and cook the sauce until it thickens a bit.
  • To make the vegan ricotta, first blend soaked raw cashews with lemon juice, milk, garlic and salt in a food processor bowl. Crumble in the tofu and pulse the machine until the mixture is well-blended but a bit chunky.
  • Once you have the pasta, sauce, bechamel and cheese prepped, you’re ready to layer everything. Spoon some pasta sauce into the dish, then pasta, then ricotta.
  • Next, more sauce, more pasta, more ricotta, a final layer of sauce, and bechamel.

Bake to perfection!

Leftovers & Storage

You can store your vegan baked ziti in it’s original container, tightly wrapped in plastic, or in an airtight container and it will keep for about 4 days in the fridge.

You can also freeze the ziti in an airtight container and will keep for at least 3 months.

More Vegan Baked Pasta Recipes

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