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Vegetarian Baked Ziti

The most delicious Vegetarian Baked Ziti made with a creamy tomato sauce (and plenty of it), bell peppers, spinach and topped with bubbling melted mozzarella cheese. This baked pasta is easy to prepare in advance and perfect for busy weeknights!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Modern Italian
Servings: 6 - 8 servings
Calories: 339kcal
Author: Emily Kemp

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 4 cups ziti or another short pasta shape (400g)
  • 30 oz canned plum tomatoes whole tomatoes (800g)
  • ½ cup mascarpone (120g)
  • 2 small red bell peppers sliced
  • 1 red onion finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach a large handful
  • 1 small handful fresh basil roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup water (240ml)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

Topping

  • 1 ball mozzarella (4.4oz/125g)
  • ¼ cup parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese (20g)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C) and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Heat the olive oil (2 tbsp) in a large frying pan or skillet. Once hot add the sliced bell peppers (2 whole) and sliced red onion (1). Fry the vegetables, stirring often until they start to soften for around 5 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic (2 cloves) and oregano (1 tsp) to the vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes (2 cans) then rinse out any leftover tomato from the cans with 1 cup/240ml of water and add that to the sauce. Stir until everything is combined and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone (½ cup/120g). Season well with salt and pepper.
  • While the sauce is simmering add the pasta (4 cups/400g) to the boiling water and cook for around 7 minutes so it’s slightly undercooked.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the spinach (2 cups/large handful) and basil, stir to combine.
  • Transfer the pasta to a large baking dish and top with mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Video

Notes

  • What pasta to use - you can use any short pasta shape to make this recipe whether it's ziti tagliati, rigatoni, penne, or fusilli.
  • Vegetables - you can add pretty much any vegetables you like to this baked ziti. Bell peppers (of any colour), zucchini, broccoli, or green beans are all great alternatives.
  • Cooking the pasta - you want to make sure you undercook the pasta by at least 3 minutes. I find that boiling it for 6-7 minutes is enough before being baked in the oven.
  • Mascarpone substitute - if you don't have mascarpone you can add a splash of cream to taste or omit it altogether.
  • Storage - leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 1-2 days and can be eaten cold or reheated.
  • Freezing - can be frozen before or after baking. Thaw completely before baking and heat until piping hot all the way through.

Nutrition

Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 296mg | Potassium: 522mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2641IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 2mg