This classic vegan baked mostaccioli recipe is a great meal prep or easy dinner! It packs in so much flavor and veggies for a one-bowl meal that is so satisfying. Easy to make gluten free.
Why You’ll Love this Vegan Mostaccioli
A big plate or bowl filled with mostaccioli is such a crowd pleasing meal. It’s creamy, filling, and delicious. This hearty meal comes together fairly easily and is a great meal to make ahead of time for meal prep or lots of leftovers. It’s a great dish that the whole family really can enjoy.
I absolutely love how flavor packed the sauce is. With paprika, garlic and onions, and some sweet carrots to provide the bright notes in the tomatoes, the umami from the lentils and drizzle of soy sauce, and then topped off with some fresh basil sprinkled on top of each serving, it really hits a great balance of hearty and filling without being overpowering.
This baked mostaccioli has been a family party recipe for years now since no one can resist it!
Serve up a big bowl of this with some homemade Hawaiian dinner rolls for a total winning combo.
For the full list of ingredients, complete with amounts, please see the recipe box below.
- Canned Tomatoes: Look for either whole peeled tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. If using whole peeled, you’ll need to smash them as they cook down. Like so many others, I really like to use Cento Brand crushed tomatoes as I find they have a great flavor. I also like them because they are not made with citric acid which can sometimes aggravate sensitive stomachs.
- Vegetables: Onion, garlic, carrots, and a bell pepper combine with the tomatoes to make the base of this tomato sauce. You can use any color of pepper, I tend to use a red pepper but a green pepper also works.
- Lentils: In place of ground meat, we turn to my favorite lentils for the protein. I always have some prepared lentils from Trader Joe’s in my fridge, but you can have lentils you’ve prepared before making the mostaccioli. Just don’t use raw lentils in this dish as they won’t cook in time.
- Vegetable Broth: I always cook with the Better than Boullion Vegan Vegetable base. It makes the most wonderful broth and I use it every time I need broth.
- Herbs and Spices: A traditional round up of Italian seasoning herbs and spices make this taste delicious. I use the dried options as I always will have them on hand, but you can swap in for fresh if you have a good herb garden.
- Orange Juice: Years ago I started to add a splash of orange juice to all my tomato based recipes as I find it really helps to brighten the dish and is a more subtle flavor than lime or lemon juice.
For this mostaccioli pasta bake, you’ll need a large casserole dish for baking the pasta, a large pot for boiling the noodles, and a large skillet or large dutch oven to make the homemade sauce.
Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.
This pasta dish comes together in 3 parts: Making the sauce, adding the noodles, and baking for 15 minutes to melt the vegan cheese. Easy peasy!
First up, making the sauce.
Into a large skillet, add the olive oil (if using, if not, add some vegetable broth) along with the onions and carrots. Make sure that you chop the vegetables into small pieces. Alternatively, you can add the veggies to the food processor to make them melt into the marinara sauce. Either way, saute together until fairly soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir for one more minute.
Next, add the remaining sauce ingredients: The crushed tomatoes, orange juice, tamari, and vegetable broth along with all the herbs and spices.
While the sauce is cooking, start making the noodles according to the package directions in a large pot of salted water. Cook them until they are just al dente so they don’t over bake in the oven. Drain pasta but don’t rinse it.
Now combine! Add the cooked pasta, lentils, and homemade sauce to a bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with the vegan cheese on top, if you are using it.
Bake uncovered in a 375F/190C preheated oven for about 15 minutes. This melts the cheese and lets some of the noodles on top get a little crispy. Those are always the ones we fight to get!
Remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving and enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
- Vary up the noodles you use! Try this with a gluten free pasta to make it gluten free or try with red lentil pasta or chickpea pasta for some extra protein.
- Try this with other pasta shapes as well. You can use ziti noodles, penne pasta, or go wild and choose rotini!
- If you love nutritional yeast, don’t forget to sprinkle some on top! You can also use a vegan variation of parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top as well.
- Want to add extra veggies? You can! Things like half moon slices of zucchini or small cubes of butternut squash are super delicious in this and really make this a great one-bowl meal. Add them to the sauce when you stir in the noodles so they can bake all together.
How to Store
Fridge: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Like so many pasta recipes, this tastes even more amazing the next day.
Make Ahead: Pasta dishes are such a great thing to make in advance! Make the pasta as directed up until it is time to bake. Then, store it in a freezer safe baking dish wrapped up in aluminum foil or a well fitting lid and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you need to bake after freezing, add an additional 20 to 30 minutes to the bake time since it is coming right from the freezer.
How to Reheat: You can easily reheat this pasta dish from the fridge, just scoop out the portion you like and either warm in the microwave in 30 second intervals until warmed, or, you can pop the covered dish in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.
Hearty Dinner Recipes
I hope that you and your family love this baked mostaccioli recipe!
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- Large casserole dish
- Large pot
- Large skillet
- Mixing spoons
- measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- 1 lbs mostaccioli noodles
- 1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese optional
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 2 large carrots finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
- 2 cups brown lentils already cooked
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
- Make the sauce. In a large skillet, combine the finely chopped onion, carrots, and bell pepper. Cook in the oil (if using, if not use some vegetable broth) until softened. Add the minced garlic and saute for one minute. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, all the herbs and spices. Cook down over medium-low heat while the noodles cook.
- Cook the noodles. In a large pot of water, cook the noodles according to package directions. When they are al dente, drain the noodles but do not rinse them.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. While the noodles cook, preheat the oven, making sure that the oven rack is in the middle of the oven.
- Combine. In a large bowl, or the drained cooking pot from the noodles, combine the homemade sauce with the noodles and lentils. Mix until combined.
- Bake. Transfer the mostaccioli to the casserole dish. Cover with vegan mozzarella cheese if desired. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- How to Store
- Fridge: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Make Ahead: Pasta dishes are such a great thing to make in advance! Make the pasta as directed up until it is time to bake. Then, store it in a freezer safe baking dish wrapped up in aluminum foil or a well fitting lid and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you need to bake after freezing, add an additional 20 to 30 minutes to the bake time since it is coming right from the freezer.
- How to Reheat: You can easily reheat this pasta dish from the fridge, just scoop out the portion you like and either warm in the microwave in 30 second intervals until warmed, or, you can pop the covered dish in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.