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This Meatless Baked Ziti recipe is a classic pasta dish in a rich tomato sauce that’s so cheesy and full of flavor, it’ll have your family begging for seconds! It’s the perfect easy recipe for Meatless Monday…and tastes amazing every other day of the week too!
If you’ve never had baked ziti, you have no idea what you’re missing! This classic Italian comfort food is made up of pasta, tomato sauce and of course, lots of cheese to make the perfect pasta bake. It’s the kind of meal everyone loves, and the whole family will come running when they know you’ll be serving it.
This easy baked ziti is similar to homemade lasagna but even less work because there are no layers to deal with. You know me, I’m all about the easy recipes, especially when they taste this good!
For a couple other family favorite pasta dishes, be sure and check out this Philly Cheesesteak Pasta and this Chicken Pasta Bake with Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
Why We Love This Meatless Baked Ziti Recipe
- Great make ahead dish: One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make it the day before. It’s a great dish for those busy weeknights or when you’ve got company coming and want to prep in advance.
- Makes a lot: This delicious baked ziti recipe makes 8-10 generous portions and is perfect for when you need dinner for a big family or hungry crowd.
- Leftovers are even better: Leftovers will never get a bad rap with this delicious and easy baked ziti recipe! The flavors in this dish taste even better the next day, making it the perfect weeknight dinner.
- Ziti pasta
- Tomato sauce
- Whole Milk Ricotta cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese divided
- Italian seasoning
How To Make Meatless Baked Ziti
Step 1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2. Add ziti noodles to a large pot of salted water and cook for around 8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
Step 3. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic and eggs. Mix well and set aside.
Step 4. Spread half of the tomato sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
Step 5. When pasta is finished cooking, add it to the cheese and mix well.
Step 6. Pour the cooked pasta mixture over the tomato sauce in the large baking dish, spreading to the corners.
Step 7. Top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Step 8. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the sauce is bubbly, and the cheese is melted and slightly browned. You’ll also know because right about now, your kitchen is starting to smell pretty awesome!
Let sit for five minutes and serve!
Baked ziti is named after the type pasta noodle it uses. Ziti pasta has little ridges in it that helps grab on to the sauce. But that’s not to say you can’t use some other type of noodle and still have the same taste.
When thinking about which type you want to use, think about choosing pasta that has little nooks or crevasses, like bow tie, cellentani, or fusilli.
What Side Dishes Go with Baked Ziti?
I am perfectly happy with a big bowl of this ziti, side salad and a slice of crusty bread, but if wondering what else to serve as a side, here are some good options:
- Garden salad
- Caesar salad
- Garlic bread
- Roasted asparagus
- Sauteed spinach
- Green beans
What Can I Substitute for Ricotta Cheese in Baked Ziti?
The purpose of the creamy ricotta cheese mixture is to add a creaminess to the pasta casserole dish. But if you want a substitute, try using cottage cheese, mascarpone cheese or cream cheese to give you the creamy texture it needs
Can You Add Meat To Your Baked Ziti Sauce
While this version doesn’t have a meat sauce, you can easily add it to the recipe if you want to change things up. These are some that work really well:
You’ll want to use a leaner ground beef like ground sirloin or ground round. Fattier beef like chuck can make the sauce a little too greasy.
Ground turkey works well, or you can even use leftover shredded turkey breast.
Mild or spicy Italian sausage are commonly used in pasta dishes. But you can use ground pork breakfast sausage or even shredded pulled pork shoulder.
Thinly sliced grilled chicken, ground chicken or cooked shredded chicken breasts are all great in pasta dishes.
Can Baked Ziti Be Frozen?
It can. You can make this recipe in advance and freeze it before baking. Use a freezer safe dish and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. When you’re ready to bake, either defrost in the refrigerator the night before or if cooking frozen, add extra baking time. (Defrosting is best but whoever remembers to do that, right?)
You can also freeze your leftovers for later. If it’s already cooked, I’ll cut the baked ziti into individual pieces before freezing…it makes it easier when you just want to reheat one serving later.
Wrap each slice a couple layers of aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. Reheat in the microwave or bake at 350.
Variations and Add-ins
- Cheese: Melty mozzarella is SO good in ziti, but you can also use provolone. It has a mild flavor like mozzarella and works great.
- Vegetables: If you want to add in a few healthy veggies, bell pepper, mushrooms. diced zucchini or fresh spinach are good options.
- Spices: One of the best things about pasta recipes is you can add a dash of this or a sprinkle of that and make it your own version. If you like it spicy add red pepper flakes to the sauce. If you love garlic, add extra! A little chopped fresh basil is always great in pasta sauce.
- Sauce: This homemade marinara sauce is super easy, but if you happen to have jarred sauce in your pantry, you can certainly use that instead.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Combine ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic and eggs in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Spread half of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, making sure to go all the way to the edges.
- Toss cooked pasta in the cheese mix until fully coated.
- Pour the pasta over the tomato sauce in the baking dish, spreading evenly.
- Top with the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 35 minutes at 350. You'll know it's ready when the sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and slightly brown. Let sit for five minutes and serve hot.
- Don't have ziti? If you want to substitute a different type of pasta, try to choose one that has little nooks or crevasses, like bow tie, cellentani, or fusilli.
- Ricotta is what gives your baked ziti that creamy texture but if you want a substitute, try using cottage cheese, mascarpone cheese or cream cheese to give you the creamy texture it needs.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1214mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 23g
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