Easy Weeknight Dinner

Meatless Baked Ziti

Meatless baked ziti is delicious comfort food that’s easy to whip up on a busy weeknight or sophisticated enough for Sunday dinner.

Weeknight Pasta Dinner

Back to school is just a few short weeks away for us which means our slow, relaxing days of summer will come to end and our schedules will become more hectic. A busy schedule means this mom has less time to think about what’s for dinner and even less time to prepare it!

Fall Comfort Food

One of my favorite ways to get an easy, satisfying dinner on the table any night of the week is with my meatless baked ziti. Meatless baked ziti is cheesy and comforting with just a few simple ingredients. It’s loaded with flavor and has many of the same elements as lasagna but without all the work. Meatless baked ziti is easy to make and is even better as leftovers (yes, that is a true statement!).

Back to School Dinner Recipe
Easy Pasta Dinner

You’re going to want to save this recipe. It has become a staple in our home and I think it will become one in your home too!

Scoop of Baked Ziti

Meatless Baked Ziti Ingredients

  • Ziti: Is a hollow tube shaped pasta that is a little longer than penne but is not cut on an angle. Ziti can either be smooth or have ridges. I prefer the smooth version for this recipe but either will work.
  • Marinara Sauce: Any store bought or homemade marinara sauce can be used in this recipe. I use Rao’s Homemade Marinara, and highly recommend! This pasta sauce is expensive (at least double the cost of other sauces) however, the taste is authentic and is made with premium ingredients without added preservatives or coloring.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Adds a creamy texture. I like to use whole milk ricotta for best results.
  • Parmesan & Mozzarella Cheese: The combination of these cheeses will create an irresistible melty, cheesy topping.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds an earthy, grassy note to this rich recipe. I prefer fresh parsley over dried. Other Italian herbs can be used as well such as basil or oregano.
Comfort Food Casserole
Scoop of Baked Ziti

How to Make Meatless Baked Ziti

This is easiest and quickest recipe to prepare!

Simple & Easy Italian Dinner

To start, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente (follow package directions). The pasta should have a little bit to it as it will continue to cook when baking in the oven.

Comfort Food Casserole

Once pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the hot pot. Adding the pasta back to the hot pot will help to evaporate any water still left on the pasta.

Add the marinara sauce (reserving about 1 cup for the top of the dish), ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the parmesan cheese, 1/2 of the parsley, and salt & pepper to the cooked pasta. Mix until well combined.

Scoop of Baked Ziti

Transfer the pasta mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the top of the dish (this will help to keep the pasta from drying out). Then sprinkle the mozzarella & remaining parmesan cheese on top.

Back to School Recipe

Cover dish with tin foil and bake in the oven until meatless baked ziti is bubbly and heated through. Remove tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Sprinkle remaining chopped parsley on top.

Let stand for about 10 minutes, then enjoy!

Easy Weeknight Meal Idea
Meatless Baked Ziti

Can you make baked ziti ahead of time?

Absolutely!

Prepare your meatless baked ziti according to the directions up until the baking step. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remember to add additional baking time when baking a dish that is cold.

Meatless Baked Ziti
Meatless Baked Ziti

Meatless Baked Ziti Variations

There are a million ways to customize this meatless baked ziti recipe to make it your own. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Can’t find ziti? Use rigatoni or penne pasta instead.
  • Switch up your pasta sauce. Instead of using any plain old marinara sauce; use an arrabbiata, Bolognese, or vodka sauce.
  • Add protein to your baked ziti with the addition of cooked ground beef, sausage, chicken, or turkey. You could even add cooked diced chicken for a twist on chicken parmesan.
  • Stir in vegetables. Eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, or zucchini would be great additions to this casserole.
  • Omit the ricotta cheese. Or use mascarpone, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream instead.
Italian Dinner Idea
Pasta Casserole

How to Store Baked Ziti Leftovers

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in a covered container. Leftovers can also be frozen in covered containers for up to 6 months.

Reheat leftovers in the oven or the microwave until heated through.

Easy Dinner Idea

What to Serve With Meatless Baked Ziti

  • A fresh garden salad is a great light side dish.
  • We love to have garlic bread with our ziti to wipe every last drop of sauce from the plate.
  • Meatballs with marinara sauce is a great side dish option.
  • We love to have grilled eggplant alongside our baked ziti for an all vegetarian meal.
Baked Ziti Dinner
Meatless Baked Ziti

For more easy comfort food ideas, check out these family favorite recipes I’ve shared on the blog:

Pasta Comfort Food

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Meatless Baked Ziti

Course: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

8

servings
Prep Time

15

minutes
Cooking Time

40

minutes
Calories

475

kcal
Total Time

55

minutes

Meatless baked ziti is delicious comfort food that is an easy meal to whip up on a busy weeknight or sophisticated enough for Sunday dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 16 ounce box ziti

  • 1 32 ounce jar Rao’s Marinara Sauce

  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 tbsp. salt

  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add tablespoon of salt to boiling water and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  • Drain pasta and return to hot pan. Stir almost all of the marina sauce (reserving about 1 cup), ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan, and 1 tbsp. chopped parsley into the pasta. Add pepper and salt to taste. Stir until well combined.
  • Spoon into a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the pasta mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  • Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until cheese becomes brown and bubbly on top.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Buon appetito!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Rigatoni or penne pasta can be used instead of ziti.
  • Add ground beef, sausage, chicken, or turkey to this recipe for a heartier dish.
  • Stir in vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, or peppers.
  • Omit the ricotta cheese. Or use mascarpone, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream instead.
  • Prepare meatless baked ziti in advance and store in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before baking.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer in a sealed air tight container.

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5 thoughts on “Meatless Baked Ziti

  1. Pingback: Neutral Fall D├ęcor Ideas -

  2. I did not know that Betty! We love to have grilled eggplant as a side dish with this for an all vegetarian meal. The grilled eggplant is a nice side dish and tastes beafy! Grilled portabello mushrooms would be good too.

  3. Betty M Bashaw

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. We are vegetarians, so I’m always on the lookout for comfort food!!

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