Vegan Pumpkin Baked Ziti (Easy Thanksgiving Vegetarian Main)

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This Vegan Pumpkin Baked Ziti recipe (from the Veganomicon cookbook) is the perfect easy Thanksgiving Vegetarian main dish. It can even be made ahead of time and baked just before serving!

Okay don’t panic but Thanksgiving is next week. Are you ready? Yeah, me either. I think we all can agree that being a vegetarian around the holidays can be a bit tricky. After many years of going to holiday dinners and realizing I could only indulge in the salad and rolls, I’ve discovered that my best way to enjoy the holidays (and avoid pity smiles from others looking at my plate) is to take control. And when I say take control, I don’t mean run to the freezer aisle and pick out one of those deformed tofurkeys that your relatives will snicker about behind your back all day (darn you mean cousins!). I’m talking about whipping up your own vegetarian main dish that will smell so amazing, all your family members will scoop some onto their plates without even realizing it’s vegan. Here is a perfect example of this: after I whipped up this casserole this past weekend, Wyatt anxiously stood behind while I photographed these photos and asked “When do I get to eat this cheesy goodness? It smells amazing!”. I smiled, handed him a plate, and watched him devour the whole thing without even noticing that it didn’t have a drop of cheese (or any dairy) in it. I’m telling you is going to love this!

And if being deliciously filling is not enough, this casserole can be prepared earlier in the day and then baked right before serving (and actually even tastes wonderful at room temperature) so you don’t have to worry about last minute cooking. This recipe comes from my favorite vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Veganomicon cookbook which just came out with a 10th anniversary edition this fall and features so many gorgeous glossy photos and a gold foil stamp cover (pssst – her publisher did send me a complimentary copy but I’ve been obsessed with Isa since the very first post I did on VV so believe me when I say my opinions are my own). What I love about Isa’s recipes are that they are so approachable and don’t require a bunch of hard to find ingredients. For this recipe in particular, the only thing I changed was that I made the ricotta all cashew instead of adding tofu because we all know your weird uncle would have made some really lame comment about how bland tofu is if you brought it to Thanksgiving (what is this…2010?). Also, the ingredient list looks long but they are all pantry staples and I bet you already have 90% of the items on hand, if not more.

Okay – now go gather up the ingredients for this recipe and surprise the heck out of your family and friends with your amazing cooking skills at Thanksgiving next week!

Pumpkin Baked Ziti
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr

This Vegan Pumpkin Baked Ziti recipe (from the Veganomicon cookbook) is the perfect easy Thanksgiving Vegetarian main dish. It can even be made ahead of time and baked just before serving!

Course: Main
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 8
Calories: 443 kcal
  • 3/4 pound uncooked ziti pasta
  • 1 pound yellow onions very thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil plus more for greasing
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • Salt / pepper to taste
For the Cashew Ricotta
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
For the crumbe topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage finely chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Prepare the ziti according to the package direction. Drain and yet aside.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the caramelized onions: Preheat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, 3 Tbsp olive oil, and a tiny pinch of baking soda (Isa says this will help speed up the caramelization process). Saute, stirring often, for 15 minute or until deeply caramelized. Turn off heat and set aside.

  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

  4. To make the cashew ricotta: Combine cashews, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme, and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a high speed blender or food processor until a finely chopped mixture is created that looks similar to ricotta.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together cashew ricotta, maple syrup, paprika, sage, salt, nutmeg, cayenne, pumpkin puree, milk, and black pepper. Add caramelized onions and pasta and stir until completely combined. Transfer to the prepared basking dish and smooth on top.

  6. Prepare the breadcrumbs: Combine bread crumbs, walnuts, nutritional yeast, sage, rosemary, and salt. Drizzle with olive oil and toss so that the oil has completely coated the mixture. Sprinkle crumbs over the casserole.

  7. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, or until the crumb is golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and serve.




Shelly is the creator of Vegetarian Ventures. She is also the Creative Director of Driftless Magazine and likes to wear wolf shirts, drink peppermint tea, and dance to Stevie Nicks.



  1. Reply


    November 15, 2017

    Ahhh…this is exactly the dish I need for Thanksgiving! I’m always trying to think of a great hearty vegetarian dish that everyone will love and this is it! Looks like pure comfort food. Getting my shopping list ready right now! Thanks!

  2. Reply

    michelle @ hummingbird high

    November 16, 2017

    wow, that cookbook looks stunning! i also love the crust on this ziti — it looks like it has the best texture! xo

  3. Reply

    Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    November 16, 2017

    This sounds amazing! And I’m obsessed with your photos in this post. That book also looks totally gorgeous. Need to check that out.

  4. Reply


    November 17, 2017

    For the beautiful photos alone, I am in love! This is so gorgeous. I’ve been dying to do a GF version of pumpkin mac and cheese, which this is like the classier version of.

  5. Reply


    November 19, 2017

    Hi…i’m sure it’s a typo….only 1/4 lb of ziti?

    • Reply


      November 19, 2017

      Ohh it should be 3/4. Thanks for catching!

  6. Reply


    November 20, 2017

    Ok this seriously looks good!!! Gotta try this asap….

  7. Reply


    November 22, 2017

    Hi, Do the cashews need to be soaked? Thanks.

  8. Reply


    November 25, 2017

    Overall I liked this, although I am not sure I am a fan of the smoked paprika flavor. The only other thing that had me a bit confused is that both rosemary and nutmeg are mentioned in the instructions, but neither are listed in the ingredients.

  9. Reply

    Mr. Terry Lee Green

    December 2, 2017

    pasta has egg in it dose it not ???? not at all vegan ! ovow vegetariain ! but if you know of vegan pasta ! Please let me know ! cheese ?? lacto vegetariain vegan is hard to be !! I have been watching my father suffer with diabetes ! bossie (The Cow) is having her revenge ! love your site ! good luck ! bye bye

  10. Reply


    January 21, 2018

    I was excited for this, but it turned out super dry. I feel like it needed veggie broth, or a cream based sauce — the pumpkin didn’t create any moisture.