This vegetarian baked ziti recipe is the ultimate hearty comfort food dinner. Made with layers of perfectly cooked pasta, veggies, and three kinds of cheese. This is the best baked ziti!
What I love about baked ziti is all of the layers of goodness that a lasagna would have, but less work.
This homemade vegetarian baked ziti is packed full of rich cheesy flavor and baked to bubbly perfection.
Pasta is a fantastic dish to make vegetarian and you won’t even miss the meat!
Ingredients to make baked ziti
- uncooked ziti pasta noodles
- yellow onion
- fresh garlic cloves
- red bell pepper
- fresh basil
- ricotta cheese
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- shredded mozzarella cheese
- high quality pasta sauce
How to make vegetarian baked ziti
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chop up the onion, zucchini, and red bell pepper. Dice or mince the fresh garlic.
Step 1: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, red bell pepper to the skillet. Cook the vegetables for around 10 minutes, until softened.
Step 2: Start boiling the water for the ziti in another pan, or do this first and set the cooked pasta aside while you prepare the vegetables.
Step 3: Add the pasta sauce and salt and let it simmer for 5 more minutes while the ziti finishes cooking.
Note about pasta sauce: you can use any flavor of sauce, but I strongly suggest splurging for the good stuff. High quality pasta sauce makes a big difference in the taste of the dish. It’s really worth spending the few extra dollars.
Step 4: In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese with the ½ cup of fresh chopped basil and one cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
Can I use dried basil?
I do not recommend using any substitution for fresh basil in this baked ziti. Fresh basil adds incredible flavor to this vegetarian baked ziti and it would not taste the same with dried herbs.
Once you have mixed together the parmesan, ricotta, and basil, set it aside.
Step 5: Once the ziti has finished cooking to al dente, drain it and place it back in the pot.
Stir the ziti noodles together with the sauce and veggies until combined.
Step 6: Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Add half of the noodles/sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and spread it out.
Step 7: Spread the entire ricotta/mozzarella/basil mixture over the top of the ziti noodles.
Step 8: Cover the ricotta mixture with the remaining 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Step 9: layer on the remaining half of the ziti and sauce.
Step 10: Finish the vegetarian baked ziti off with the shredded mozzarella on top.
Step 11: Cover the dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Remove the foil after 10 minutes and bake for another 20 minutes, until bubbly.
Optional: I like to broil mine for 1-2 minutes at the end to get those lovely bits of browned cheese on top.
This vegetarian baked ziti will make your kitchen smell incredible!
There is simply nothing like fresh basil and cheese and pasta sauce blending together to make your house smell like an Italian restaurant.
How to store
Baked ziti will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. To reheat, I suggest microwaving it.
We love eating leftovers of this dish!
This is sure to be a family favorite recipe.
More pasta recipes
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- 1 lb ziti pasta
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 whole bulb of garlic (10-15 cloves), finely diced or minced
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup fresh chopped basil (around 1 oz worth when packaged)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 32 oz high quality pasta sauce (I used Rao’s tomato basil)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat
- Start boiling the water for the ziti in another pan, or do this first and set the cooked pasta aside while you work on the vegetables
- Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, red bell pepper to the skillet with the oil. Cook for around 10 minutes, until softened. Add the pasta sauce and salt and let it simmer for 5 more minutes while the ziti finishes cooking
- In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese with the ½ cup of fresh chopped basil and one cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Once the ziti is cooked, drain and mix it together with the sauce and vegetables. Remove from the heat.
- Spray a 9 by 13 baking casserole dish with olive oil spray
- Add half of the sauce/noodles to the casserole dish and spread it out
- Spread out all of the ricotta/parmesan/basil mixture over the top of the ziti
- Top with the remaining 1 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Add the remaining half of the pasta/sauce
- Top with 8 oz of shredded mozzarella
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes at 350
- Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes, until bubbly
- For a little browned cheese on top, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 1477mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 23g