This easy Vegan Pasta Bake is flavorful comfort food your whole family will love! Similar in taste and texture to lasagna, but so much easier. This meatless meal is ready in about 45 minutes!
This easy vegan pasta bake is everything you want in a weeknight dinner. It’s quick and easy to assemble, made from pantry and fridge staples, kid and husband approved, hearty and filling, and utterly delicious!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Pasta ~ I like medium tube pasta for this pasta bake recipe. Penne, rigatoni, or ziti would be my first choice. The sauce nestles into the pasta tubes so there is saucy goodness in each bite!
Farfalle, macaroni, rigatoni, or cavatappi would also be good choices.
Gluten-free pasta will work perfectly in this recipe, so go that route if you want/need.
Pesto ~ Pesto bring tons of flavor with very little effort. We are partial to my homemade Pumpkin Seed Pesto or Kale Walnut Pesto, but you can use your favorite store-bought (Trader Joe’s Kale Pesto is vegan and really yummy!) or homemade vegan pesto.
Sauce ~ Bottled store-bought sauce is the quickest, easiest option. We love Rao’s Tomato Basil or Marinara. It’s more expensive, but it tastes like homemade! Costco sells a 2-pack for a really great price! Aldi is the next cheapest place I’ve found it.
My homemade Spicy Marinara Sauce would be perfect in this pesto pasta bake, too. Or use your favorite marinara sauce recipe.
Spinach ~ I prefer fresh spinach, chopped into small pieces. No need to cook it first, just mix it in with the pasta and sauce. Pasta is a great place to sneak in more leafy greens!
I find frozen spinach to be slimy and bitter, but if that’s all you have, it will work. Be sure to defrost it first and wring out as much liquid as possible so as not to make the casserole mushy.
Cheese ~ Miyoko’s Liquid Mozzarella is really the way to go here. It’s pretty perfect, tastes great, and gets perfectly melty and gooey in the oven.
I haven’t found a shredded vegan cheese yet that melts well and tastes good, but if you have a favorite brand, feel free to substitute that.
Extras ~ Want more veggies? Add some sautéed mushrooms or lightly steamed broccoli.
Want more protein? Add a cup of cooked lentils.
Want some garnish? Sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley or basil over the top before serving.
Please note: the more ingredients you add to the dish, the more sauce you will need so that it doesn’t turn out dry.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
Cook the pasta in well-salted water about 2 to 3 minutes less than the package directions. You want the pasta just shy of al dente because it will continue cooking in the oven. Drain well.
Stir in the pesto and fresh chopped spinach to the cooked pasta.
Add the pasta sauce to the pasta mixture and stir well to thoroughly coat.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a casserole dish and spread out evenly using a spoon or spatula.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil, drizzle the liquid vegan mozzarella over the top, and place under the broiler for a few minutes (watch it closely!) until melty and lightly browned.
Serve with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese over the top if desired. A side salad would be an easy accompaniment or try some Garlic Green Beans. If you want something even heartier, serve it along side vegan meatballs (the Beyond Meat Plant-Based Meatballs are really good!). And don’t forget the vegan garlic bread.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store leftovers of this vegan pasta bake in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze it! Let it cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. It should keep well for up to 4 months.
Reheat: From the fridge, reheat individual portions in the microwave in 30 second intervals until warmed through.
From frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the microwave.
To reheat the entire casserole, it can be reheated, covered, in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes until warmed through.
Note: The pasta bake may dry out while it sits in the fridge/freezer as the pasta will continue to soak up the sauce. Leftovers can be served with extra sauce on the side or pour some sauce over the top before reheating.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Cook the pasta in well-salted water!
~ Undercook the pasta when boiling! Drain it about 2 to 3 minutes earlier than the package directions state. It will continue cooking in the sauce in the oven and you don’t want to end up with mushy pasta!
~ Cover the casserole during the first 20 minutes to ensure the noodles cook fully and don’t dry out.
~ Add the liquid mozzarella only in the last few minutes then broil, uncovered, until the cheese sets up. This should only take a few minutes.
There are some pasta bake recipes that don’t require boiling the pasta first, but personally I find the texture of the pasta not the best every time I’ve tried that. So, this recipe requires boiling the pasta first, but you need to under cook it by about 2 to 3 minutes. It will continue cooking in the sauce in the oven.
The pasta should be just shy of al dente when boiling. They will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want it to get mushy.
This easy vegan pasta bake is great because it’s so versatile. I’ve added chopped spinach, pesto and tomato sauce to the plain cooked noodles. But there are lots of options. Try mushrooms or broccoli. A vegan white sauce or a vegan cheese sauce would be a yummy substitute for the tomato sauce. Stir in some hummus, some fresh tomatoes, or even some cooked lentils or chickpeas. Pasta goes well with just about everything!
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Easy Vegan Pasta Bake
- 16 ounces dry penne pasta or medium shaped pasta or choice; gluten-free, if desired
- 1 cup pumpkin seed pesto or your favorite vegan pesto
- 2 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
- 32 ounces pasta sauce your favorite
- ¾ – 1 cup Miyoko's Liquid Mozzarella or your favorite vegan shredded cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook the pasta in well-salted water 2 to 3 minutes LESS than package directions state. Do not over cook the pasta! Drain well.
- Add the cooked pasta back to the pot and stir in the pesto, chopped spinach, and pasta sauce.
- Transfer the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Drizzle the liquid mozzarella evenly over the top.
- Broil for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese is set and lightly golden.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.
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