Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? Look no further than this Meatless Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Mozzarella. Packed with bold, savory flavors, this vegetarian pasta bake is a classic recipe that's perfect for the whole family. With creamy ricotta, roasted herb tomatoes, chunks of kale, and a well-seasoned tomato sauce, all topped with melty Mozzarella cheese. It's a simple yet satisfying, easy weeknight dinnerthat everyone will love! Make ahead + Gluten-Free option.
This meatless baked ziti is truly something delicious. This vegetarian pasta bake is truly amazing. Nothing short of flavor, and it’s even perfect when reheated! So, these quick, easy meals come in really handy, especially on those days!
Of course, you can always search ‘weeknight meals‘ on my site for more deliciousness.
Baked ziti (Aka Penne) is a flavorful and satisfying dish that falls under the category of a vegetarian pasta bake, making it an excellent choice for an easy weeknight dinner. It typically consists of cooked ziti pasta combined with a variety of ingredients. The mixture is then layered in a baking dish, topped with cheese, and baked in the oven until golden and bubbly. This hearty and versatile dish is loved for its simplicity, delicious taste, and ability to please both kids and adults alike.
How to Make Meatless Baked Ziti with Ricotta + Mozzarella
You'll toss your cooked pasta with the 'meat' sauce and plenty of cheese in a baking dish and bake until everything is gooey and warm, with a crisp crust on top.
Dried Ziti Pasta – This is the traditional pasta used. However, you can always substitute with rigatoni pasta for an extra bite
Mozzarella Cheese – Makes things nice + creamy; plus, adds such rich cheesy flavor.
Roasted tomatoes – Adds great texture and extra tomato-y flavor to the dish
Kale – Adds great earthy flavor to everything
Herbs + Seasonings – A great addition of flavor. Adds such savoriness nice + a beautiful kick of spice
Tomato Sauce – Can be homemade or store-bought. Always add seasoning to enhance the taste.
Ricotta Cheese – Adds such a creaminess to everything
Veggie Stock– Helps to add extra flavor and creaminess
A crowd-pleasing combination that will have everyone coming back for seconds.
It’s absolutely delicious----creamy + velvety!
SECRET TO A CREAMY FILLING?
The ricotta mixture. Simple! In order to ensure that your filling for the pasta bake is smooth and creamy, you must ensure that your ricotta mixture is nice in velvety.
Since ricotta cheese usually comes out a bit thick, the trick to the ultimate creaminess is in mixing in a bit of the boiled pasta water. Yup. You’ve read right. A few Tbsps of boiled pasta water loosens things up nicely and creates a nice smooth texture.
The key to this recipe is to start with great-quality tomatoes. Choose a mix of large + cherries and several different colors if you can find them.
Tomatoes. You can add as many tomatoes as will fit on your baking sheet.
Olive oil. Don’t skimp on the oil! It helps concentrate the tomato flavor and makes a nice jammy texture. You can use these roasted tomatoes like a dressing or sauce. Dried herbs. I like a mixture of Italian herbs like oregano, basil and parsley. But you can mix up the seasonings with other fresh or dried herbs. Thyme, rosemary, marjoram and tarragon are all delicious with tomatoes.
Spices. Likewise, feel free to play with different spices in your roasted tomatoes. I like paprika, garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a slight kick.
Adding Protein to this Meatless Baked Ziti
If you'd like to add protein to this Pasta Bake, it's easy to do, regardless of your diet!
Plant-based protein options:
Crispy seared or baked tofu cubes
Crumbled stir-fried seitan
Crumble vegan bacon on top
Sautéed cauliflower florets or broccoli
Sautéed asparagus, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Non-vegan protein options:
If you want to skip the 'meatless' part of this dish feel free to add-
Chicken (breast sliced)
Why Use Herb Roasted Tomatoes?
When it comes to herb-roasted tomatoes, you're in for a treat. These delightful morsels are not only quick and easy to make in the oven but also offer a depth of savory, umami flavor that is truly irresistible. The roasting process intensifies their natural sweetness and savory notes while the infusion of herbs adds a delightful aromatic touch-- A completely delicious addition to your easy weeknight dinner!
SHOP MY FAVORITE BAKEWARE ITEMS AND ACCESSORIES FOR THIS ZITI PASTA BAKE
Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Meatless Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Mozzarella. Everything from my fave Dutch pot/oven, wooden spoons, immersion hand-blender, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!
What Are Delicious Foods to Pair Vegetarian Pasta Bake With?
When it comes to serving this mouthwatering Meatless Baked Ziti with Ricotta + Mozzarella, there are some options that will truly elevate your meal. First off, don't forget to have some crusty bread on hand. I love this homemade Vegan Garlic Herb Kale Bread. Trust me; you'll want to dip it into that luscious, saucy goodness. If you want a little freshness, serve it with a salad on the side, like this Roasted Cauliflower Green Goddess Salad or this Best Buffalo Chickpea Kale Salad. It's like a fresh burst of flavor that complements this easy weeknight dinner beautifully.
But here's the thing. This Meatless Baked Ziti is so darn amazing that you can honestly enjoy it all by itself. Seriously, the roasted juicy, jammy tomatoaromatic sauce + luscious creamy ricotta —everything is just bursting with flavor. So, feel free to dig in and savor every single bite. It's a dish that stands tall on its own!
Meatless Baked Ziti with Ricotta + Mozzarella Q + A's
Can I Make This Vegetarian Pasta Bake Gluten-free?
Yes, simply just swap out the Ziti pasta with Gluten-free Ziti/Penne pasta!
Can I Make This Ahead Of Time?
Absolutely! Cook your pasta and let it cool completely before storing in an air-tight refrigerator for 3-5 days. In a bowl, combine your ricotta, parmesan, and kale and place in an air tight container to refrigerate overnight as well. Follow steps to cook tomato sauce and after STEP 4, remove sauce from heat, let cool and store in the fridge the day before. On the day of, remove everything to room temp., about 15-20 minutes and continue assembly STEPS.
How To Store Leftovers?
Any leftovers of this easy weeknight dinner can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply heat in the oven for the best results or microwave for a minute or two until heated through.
Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? Look no further than this Meatless Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Mozzarella. Packed with bold, savory flavors, this vegetarian pasta bake is a classic recipe that's perfect for the whole family. With creamy ricotta, roasted herb tomatoes, chunks of kale, and a well-seasoned tomato sauce, all topped with melty Mozzarella cheese. It's a simple yet satisfying, easy weeknight dinner. Make ahead + Gluten-Free option.
Cook pasta according to packaging. NOTE: ziti or rigatoni pasta doesn’t take a long time to cook, usually 10-13 minutes. NOTE: I always add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water to prevent pasta from sticking together.
Meanwhile, in a bowl add ricotta cheese and a few Tbsps (2-3 at most) of pasta water and stir using a spatula until smooth. Fold in the kale.
COOK THE TOMATO SAUCE:
In a large 12-inch skillet, add the olive oil and add minced garlic sauté frequently about 1-2 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
Add the tomato sauce, veggie stock, salt, black pepper, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, parsley, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper, stirring everything together until combined. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, allowing it to simmer in the sauce for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add drained cooked pasta and gently stir until everything is combined and pasta is covered with sauce.
In the baking dish, add in the pasta (covered in tomato sauce), spreading it evenly. Spoon on the ricotta cheese mixture and stir until combined. Sprinkle a nice layer of mozzarella cheese atop pasta followed by roasted tomatoes. Then a final layer of mozzarella cheese until the entire pasta is covered.
Loosely cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil paper and bake for another 10-15 minutes or so, until cheese has fully melted and the top is browned slightly.
Remove from oven and serve with your favorite salad or bread.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. To re-heat, simply heat in the oven for the best results or microwave for a minute or two until heated through.
GLUTEN-FREE: To make this dish GF, simply use Gluten-Free pasta and ensure that other ingredients are GF-friendly.
MAKE AHEAD: Cook your pasta and let it cool completely before storing in an air-tight refrigerator for 3-5 days. In a bowl, combine your ricotta, parmesan, and kale and place in an air tight container to refrigerate overnight as well. Follow steps to cook tomato sauce and after STEP 4, remove sauce from heat, let cool and store in the fridge the day before. On the day of, remove everything to room temp., about 15-20 minutes and continue assembly STEPS.