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cauliflower baked ziti in a white oval baking dish
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5 from 5 votes

Creamy Cauliflower Baked Ziti

The cauliflower florets in this Creamy Baked Ziti melt right into the creamy sauce for a dish with a little hidden vegetable boost. This baked pasta can be assembled in a casserole dish up to a day ahead and baked whenever you’re ready.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: baked pasta, make ahead baked pasta, vegetarian casserole
Servings: 6
Calories: 565kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00


  • 9x13 Baking Dish
  • Stockpot
  • Saucepan


  • 2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Basil (or chopped fresh basil)
  • ¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 3 15 oz cans Crushed Tomatoes (or tomato puree)
  • ½ teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 lb Dried Pasta, like Ziti, Rigatoni, or Penne
  • 16 oz Frozen Cauliflower Florets
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, cubed
  • 8 oz Mozzarella, shredded
  • ½ + ¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


  • Preheat oven to 450°F / 232°C. Rub a 9x13 baking dish with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and then garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Stir in tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Simmer with lid slightly ajar for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • While sauce simmers, boil pasta according to package directions. In the last minute of cooking, add cauliflower florets. Drain pasta and cauliflower.
  • Return to sauce and whisk in cream cheese.
  • Stir 3 cups sauce and ½ cup parmesan cheese into pasta and cauliflower.
  • Pour ¾ cup sauce into prepared baking dish. Top with half the mozzarella. Add pasta over top.
  • Top pasta with any remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella, and ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake until bubbly and melted, about 10 minutes.
  • Turn on the oven’s broiler and broil until the top is golden, 3 to 4 minutes more.


Make ahead - The pasta can be assembled up to a day ahead of time. Let it come to room temperature before baking according to recipe (it may take a few minutes longer to warm through). 


Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 472mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 616IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 359mg | Iron: 2mg