Baked ziti, or Ziti al Forno, is a generic term that describes any oven baked pasta, and it can be made via dozens of methods. Oven baked pastas date back to the late Middle Ages where these dishes were served to nobles at banquets. The method caught on across Italy, and eventually became a staple dish across southern Italy. It is still popular today in Sicily and Campania. Try this Vegan Baked Ziti with Sausage for a unique twist on this traditional favorite.

There are many different variations of baked ziti. This recipe is a traditional tomato sauce with a play on a vegan béchamel. Spicy vegan sausage brings flavor and warmth to the dish.

Baked ziti can be made with just about anything, from vegan chicken and Alfredo sauce, buffalo spiced jackfruit, or added vegetables, like kale, Brussels sprouts, or peas.

Next up is the cheese sauce. The apple cider vinegar in this recipe lends a tangy, cheesy flavor. Be sure to grab a live apple cider vinegar like Bragg’s. This brings a dose of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.

Here’s the Technique

Start by making your pasta sauce. Unless you have a specific tool that breaks up meat, you can use your hands, a wooden spoon, or other utensil to break up the sausage into crumbles.

This recipe is possibly even better as reheated leftovers than when first out of the oven. Be sure to allow the rest time after cooking. This ensures that the pasta comes together a bit, and that your mouth doesn’t get burned on molten cheese sauce.

Vegan Baked Ziti with Sausage Recipe

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Tomato Sauce

For the Vegan Cheese Sauce

Additional Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

For the Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Break up sausage by hand, discarding any casings that have come apart from filling. Add to pot, and sauté until browned, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
    Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. When warm, add onion. Sauté for 8-10 minutes until the onions are tender and starting to brown. Continue to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any pieces of sausage left in the pan.
    Add the garlic, herbs, and salt and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and sausage, and cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for approximately 15 minutes.

For the Cheese Sauce

  1. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth. If your blender is not a high speed blender, you may pour boiling water over the cashews and allow them to sit for 30 minutes, or soak them overnight in water on the counter. Drain before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

For the Pasta

  1. Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until barely al denté. Do not overcook because the pasta will continue cooking and softening in the oven. Drain.

To Assemble

  1. To assemble your baked ziti, start by spreading a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. Add about 1/3 of the pasta. Top with approximately 1/3 of the tomato sauce, then pour about 1/4 cup of cheese sauce on top. Repeat this process twice more.
  2. Top with vegan mozzarella.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  4. When completely warmed through and bubbly, uncover and broil on low for about 5 minutes, checking regularly to avoid burning.

To Serve

  1. Garnish with basil, vegan Parmesan, dried oregano, or crushed red pepper.

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