This easy meatless baked ziti is made with 3 cheeses layered in one delicious pasta dish. The ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan melt together with the red sauce and ziti noodles for a satisfying vegetarian dinner that can easily be made gluten free. Baked in the oven in a quick 35 minutes, with only a few ingredients you likely already have in the pantry; you can’t go wrong!
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Meatless Baked Ziti Ingredients
To make this recipe you’ll need 16 ounces of ziti noodles pre cooked and drained. You need 16 ounces of ricotta cheese, 2 cups of mozzarella (divided in half), and a cup of parmesan cheese (divided in half).
Additionally you’ll require 2 eggs, dried parsley, minced garlic, dried basil, and salt. Lastly you need 32 ounces of marinara or red sauce.
Making an Easy Meatless Baked Ziti
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then add the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and a half cup of the parmesan to a large bowl. Combine that with the eggs, parsley, garlic, basil and salt.
Stir until it’s mixed completely and the 3 cheese blend is complete. Now add the cooked and drained ziti noodles to the bowl. Toss gently to mix it all together.
Next pour half of your red sauce into a 9×13 casserole dish. Spread it around into an even coat covering the bottom. Then add the pasta and cheese blend and spread that into an even layer to cover the marinara you just laid down.
Add the remaining sauce over the top of the cheese and noodles. Use a spatula or the bottom of a spoon to evenly spread it and cover the previous layer.
Sprinkle the last cup of mozzarella and half cup of parmesan over the top and you have a fully layered meatless ziti.
Now cover the casserole dish with foil and place it into the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes and then take it out and remove the foil. Set the oven to broil and broil, uncovered, for about 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Remove your baked ziti from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes. When that’s done you just garnish, serve, and enjoy!
Making Gluten Free Baked Ziti
Making this recipe gluten free is as easy as substituting the ziti noodles for a gluten free variety. I prefer Barilla, Jovial, or Banza usually but your favorite will work just fine. Just cook and drain the noodles according to the directions for whichever you’ve chosen and trade it in!
Adding Protein to the Baked Ziti
If you’re into the idea of adding protein to this recipe it’s an easy addition! You can add a pound of ground beef or ground chicken. Just cook and drain it and mix it with your red sauce as part of those layers.
For a vegetarian protein option try using my meatless ground beef crumbles. They work well with this recipe and are super easy to make and keep on hand!
Common Baked Ziti Substitutions for Ricotta Cheese
There are quite a few options to go with if you don’t want to use ricotta or if you don’t have it on hand. I’ve stuck with the more common ones that work best with this recipe.
Cottage cheese is one of the more common substitutions for ricotta because it has a similar flavor profile. Sometimes it’s even preferred as its lower in fat.
Keep in mind that it is a bit runnier than the ricotta and is a bit less creamy. Stick with a small curd cottage cheese if possible to avoid the larger lumps.
Cream cheese can be substituted for ricotta as well. Ironically it’s slightly less creamy. It’s also slightly lower in fat.
Keep it out of the fridge for a bit and let it warm up for this recipe if you’re using it so it mixes with the other cheese easier.
Goat cheese is another substitution for the ricotta as well. It’s less common to have it on hand than the previous two so I kept it at the end of the substitution list. Make sure its fresh and not an aged goat cheese for this recipe.
Serving and Storing Instructions
Serve the meatless baked ziti with a garlic bread or breadsticks, if you’re not doing it gluten free that is. I also like serving it with a side salad or roasted broccoli or green beans to get some veggies in there.
Garnish with red pepper flakes or parsley.
To store this recipe, let it cool to room temperature and cover. Alternately, you can portion it out into individual meal prep containers. Refrigerate and it will keep for about 5 days just fine. It reheats well in the microwave for a filling leftover meal.
Yes, you want to cover the baked ziti while cooking it to keep it from drying out too much.
Ziti is a type of tube shaped pasta. Baked ziti is the actual recipe using the ziti noodles. Generally layers of sauces, cheese, and other ingredients baked together.
Make sure you cover the ziti when baking it and don’t skimp on the sauce. The cover will keep it from drying out and the extra sauce will also help.
You can use penne instead of ziti if you want. Just Cook and drain it like you would the Ziti and swap it in instead.
Penne is shorter than ziti and a little wider in diameter.
Rigatoni is slightly shorter and wider than ziti or penne. They’re not the same but similar.
Other Meatless Recipes You’ll Love!
- One Pot Mushroom Stroganoff
- Cheesy Broccoli Gnocchi Skillet
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry
- Vegan Creamy Vegetable Soup
PS. If you’ve made this recipe, don’t forget to rate this recipe and let me know in the comments how you liked it!
- 16 ounces Ziti noodles, cooked and drained
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 32 ounces marinara sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, ½ cup parmesan, eggs, parsley, garlic, basil and salt until fully incorporated together
- Add the cooked and drained ziti noodles into the mixing bowl and gently toss to combine with the cheese mixture
- Pour half of the marinara into a 9×13 casserole dish and spread evenly over the bottom. Add the pasta and cheese mixture into the casserole dish, and spread evenly over the marinara on the bottom
- Layer the remaining sauce over the top of the noodles and use a spatula or back of a spoon to evenly spread over the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and ½ cup of parmesan cheese over top
- Cover with foil and place the casserole dish into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, and then remove the foil. Broil uncovered for 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and slightly golden
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes
For Gluten Free Baked Ziti:
Swap out the ziti noodles for gluten free pasta. Cook according to directions and make the recipe the same as instructed.
Keywords: easy meatless baked ziti, 3 cheese baked ziti, baked ziti with ricotta, gluten free baked ziti, easy vegetarian baked ziti
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