Meatless baked ziti is an easy meal to make in under an hour with simple kitchen ingredients. Layers of ziti coated in marinara, sauteed veggies, and cheese fill this casserole with savory goodness that the entire family will love.
Are you looking for a baked ziti made without meat? You're going to love this recipe because it's so filling and hearty you won't even realize it's meatless.
Ziti pasta is coated in your favorite marinara sauce and layered with flavorful sauteed veggies and three types of cheese. Then, it's baked until melted, bubbly, and golden brown.
Serve meatless baked ziti for a weeknight meal with family - it feeds eight and can be stretched further when served with a salad and some garlic bread.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Ziti - If you can't find ziti, any medium tube-shaped pasta will work in this recipe. Penne and rigatoni are popular alternatives.
- Olive oil - Can be substituted with butter or your favorite cooking oil.
- Vegetables - I used zucchini, bell pepper, and onion for my veggie layer. Feel free to use your favorite vegetables for sautéing, like summer squash, broccoli, carrots, or asparagus. I don't recommend omitting the onion because it adds flavor to the vegetable layer.
- Cheeses - Ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses make up the cheese layer of your baked ziti. Mozzarella can be substituted with an Italian cheese blend if desired.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning add flavor to your casserole. Italian seasoning can be substituted with an equal amount of your favorite Italian herbs, like basil, oregano, and thyme.
- Marinara sauce - Use your favorite jarred marinara or use a homemade sauce. I like making this recipe with vegetable pasta sauce to sneak in some extra veggies and fresh flavor.
Tips and tricks
Al dente pasta - Make sure your pasta is cooked to al dente. Undercooked pasta will continue to soak up liquid as the casserole bakes, causing the casserole to turn out dry.
Don't overbake - Additionally, baking your casserole for too long can cause it to turn out dry. We're only cooking the casserole long enough to warm up the ingredients, melt the cheese, and allow the flavors to meld.
Pan size - This recipe fits perfectly into a 9x13 casserole dish. Here's a newer version of my favorite Corningware dish: Amazon - Corningware 3-quart oblong casserole dish
Frequently asked questions
Any medium, tube shaped pasta will work in this recipe. Penne and rigatoni are popular choices.
This recipe fits into a 3-quart, 9x13 casserole dish.
Yes. Assemble your casserole as directed but before baking, cover and store in the refrigerator. While preheating your oven to bake, transfer the casserole to the countertop to start bringing to room temperature.
Leftovers will keep for 2 to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
It depends on what type of parmesan cheese you're using. Official parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet, which means it's not vegetarian. Instead, look for parmesan cheese labeled as vegetarian or made with vegetable rennet. You can also substitute the parmesan cheese with other Italian-style hard cheeses.
Meatless Baked Ziti
- 16 ounces ziti, dry
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9x13 or 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
- In a stock pot, bring salted water to a boil and add ziti. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain well, return to pan, and toss with marinara sauce. Set aside.
- While pasta cooks, warm a sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. When warm, add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Lightly season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until edges are browned and vegetables are softened to your liking. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl, add ricotta, half of the mozzarella, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.
- In your prepared casserole dish, add half of the ziti/sauce mixture and spread into an even layer. Next, add vegetables and spread into an even layer. Top vegetables with cheese mixture and spread into an even layer. Top with remaining ziti and sauce, then sprinkle the top of your casserole with the rest of the mozzarella cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling around the edges.
- Baked ziti can be assembled up to a day ahead. Cover and store, unbaked, in the refrigerator. Remove casserole from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature while oven preheats and follow directions above for baking.
- Leftovers will keep for 2-3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- To make this dish vegetarian-friendly, look for a parmesan cheese made with vegetable rennet, or labeled as vegetarian. Parmesan can also be substituted with other hard Italian-style cheeses.
- Like a saucy casserole? As written, this casserole is lightly sauced. Feel free to add more marinara sauce as desired.