Vegan Pasta Bake is a delicious casserole that's ready in an hour. Add your favorite vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms to make it a complete meal. If you enjoy lasagna but want an easier option, this is the recipe for you.
Some people think that by eating plant based, they'll have to give up their comfort food favorites. A lot of us grew up eating casseroles loaded with creamy sauces which weren't exactly healthful. However, it's easy to take nutritious fresh vegetables and incorporate them into our old favorite recipes.
Some of the vegan baked dishes I love to make include Vegan Breakfast Casserole and Black Bean Quinoa Casserole. Personally I think they taste even better than the dishes I ate as a kid containing condensed soup and canned vegetables. (And if you're like me and love reading about the origins of cooking and food, check out great moments in casserole history.)
Why you'll love this recipe
- It requires minimal ingredients and is easier than making layered lasagna, but is just as delicious.
- You can make it with your favorite seasonal vegetables.
- The leftovers taste amazing, plus they are freezer friendly.
- Vegetables (I chose zucchini and brown cremini mushrooms for this version. Other options include spinach, eggplant, onions, and kale. And I always add fresh garlic for extra flavor.)
- Short pasta such as penne (gluten-free, if necessary)
- Marinara pasta sauce (My favorite store-bought sauce is Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce which is made with Italian tomatoes and no added sugar. You'll need 2 small jars (15.5 ounces each) or 1 extra-large jar (32 ounces).)
- Shredded vegan cheese (Mozzarella-style)
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Step 1: Saute the vegetables.
- Step 2: Cook the pasta about 2 minutes less than normal. Drain and add it back to the pot along with the vegetables and marinara sauce. (You don't need to heat the sauce.)
- Step 3: Toss well to combine everything together.
- Step 4: Add half the mixture to the baking dish and top with half of the vegan cheese shreds. Add the remaining half of the pasta mixture on top of the cheese.
- Step 5: Top the dish with the remaining non-dairy cheese.
- Step 6: Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then carefully remove the foil, and bake the casserole for another 15 minutes or until everything is heated through and the cheese is melted.
Don't cook the pasta as long as you normally would. It should be undercooked. If it's too soft, it will fall apart when served since the pasta will continue cooking as the dish bakes.
Storing and freezing
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and reheated in the oven or microwave. Or freeze individual portions in glass oven-proof/microwave-proof containers with lids. Defrost the frozen container in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
For tips on freezing, refer to USDA Freezing and Food Safety.
Start off by cooking pasta covered. Then halfway through, uncover the casserole dish and allow it to bake until the cheese is melted on top and everything is heated through. If you use a clear glass baking dish like Pyrex, you'll be able to see the bubbling through the sides.
Yes, even though the pasta wasn't boiled completely before adding it to the other ingredients in the casserole, it will continue cooking in the sauce while it bakes.
Gluten-free pasta can be made from many different ingredients, including rice, corn, quinoa, chickpeas, and lentils. It's important to read the directions before cooking because it may require more or less cooking time than durum wheat pasta. And it typically needs to be stirred often during cooking to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Be sure to do a taste test for doneness, as well, to avoid over cooking it.
More pasta recipes
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Easy Vegan Pasta Bake
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound zucchini, (about 2 medium) sliced into half moons
- 8 ounces mushrooms, (white or brown) sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 ounces penne, (or other short pasta) gluten-free, if preferred
- 32 ounces marinara sauce, (homemade or store-bought)
- 8 ounces shredded vegan cheese, (about 1 ½ cups) Mozzarella flavor, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, then add the zucchini and the mushrooms. Saute, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and most of their liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta for about 2 minutes less than indicated on the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
- Pour the marinara sauce over the drained pasta. Add the cooked vegetables, then toss well to combine the pasta, sauce, and vegetables. (There is no need to heat the marinara sauce first.)
- Transfer half of the pasta mixture to a 3-quart casserole dish. Top with half the vegan cheese. Add the rest of the pasta mixture then top with the remaining vegan cheese.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for 15 more minutes or until heated through and the vegan cheese is melted.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.