This easy vegan ricotta pasta has a fresh 5-minute tomato sauce, plant-based sausage, hearty kale, Italian basil, and the best noodles all layered into a one-dish meal.
If you adore pasta but hold back from eating it for health reasons, this recipe made with creamy non-dairy cheese and whole-food penne noodles has some key advantages over less nutritious pasta plates.
It's crazy delicious and one of our favorite meals to share with non-vegan companions. They love our Homemade Vegan Ricotta that takes this dish over the top.
But don't stress if you aren't able to make the cheese from scratch. You can find a recommendation for the next-best tasting store bought-alternatives in the FAQ below.
What makes it healthy?
For this dish, I chose one of my favorite artisan dried noodles. It has the perfect al-dente bite and tastes incredible.
Silky olive oil, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and fine sea salt dress the penne, while rich, cheesy, plant-based ricotta made without tofu replaces regular cheese. Altogether the pasta is:
- Protein boosted by plant-based sausage.
- Whole-grain - with slow-dried, bronze-cut, brown rice penne.
- Superfood with dark green kale.
Now I fear I may have spent too much time telling you why this fresh, wholesome recipe with vegan ricotta is healthy enough to eat any night of the week.
What you really need to know is how amazingly scrumptious it is and how easy to prepare. You can have it on the table in under 30 minutes.
- Pasta - Our favorite brand for penne is Jovial, but you can substitute others if you prefer.
- Tomatoes - Meaty Roma tomatoes work well, the riper the better.
- Ricotta - Homemade is best and a delicious tasting vegan ricotta from the market is second-best.
- Kale - Tender red Russian and baby kale cook quickly in the pasta water when noodles are al dente.
- Vegan sausage - This can be gluten-free and soy-free if you choose Beyond Sausage. Available in spicy or sweet Italian flavors.
Step by step
Cook pasta ingredients
- Combine diced tomatoes, garlic, and salt with olive oil.
- Cook tomatoes into a rich sauce.
- Brown vegan sausage and keep warm.
- Boil pasta and kale in the same pot.
Assemble pasta on plates
Here's a visual on how to layer all the goodies for your loaded Italian ricotta pasta and full instructions are in the recipe card below. Don't you just love those pillows of creamy ricotta?
- Take ricotta from the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature while making the recipe.
- Bring pasta water to a boil while chopping tomatoes.
- Add a teaspoon each of salt and olive oil to the cooking water.
- Cook penne noodles until almost done. Then add kale to noodles and finish cooking for 2 minutes.
- Brown sausage while tomato sauce cooks and keep warm while noodles and kale finish.
- Tear large basil leaves in half and leave small ones whole.
- Layer everything onto warm plates for serving.
It depends on which brand you buy, so be sure to read the label. Fortunately, there are brands that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free like the one used in this recipe so we've got you covered if those are your preferences.
More vegan cheese recipes
Interested in more vegan cheese substitutes you can make at home? Check out these recipes.
Sausage Kale & Ricotta Penne Pasta
- 4 oz. Jovial brand whole grain brown rice penne
- 1 TB olive oil plus 2 teaspoons divided
- 2 cups seeded and diced ripe Roma tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic sliced thin
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 oz. coarsely chopped tender or baby kale
- 3 oz. sliced plant-based Italian sausage
- ½ cup Fluffy Homemade Ricotta or store-bought vegan ricotta
- ½ cup loosely packed whole basil leaves
- Take ricotta from refrigerator, measure out, and warm to room temperature while preparing pasta.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add diced tomatoes, garlic and salt. Cook over medium high heat for about 10 minutes. Cook until tomatoes begin breaking down and juices start to evaporate.
- While tomato sauce cooks, bring two quarts of water to a boil. Heat 1 teaspoon(s) of olive oil in a large skillet and brown vegan sausage on both sides. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- Boil pasta 10 minutes or until al dente. Add chopped kale and continue cooking 2 minutes or more until both pasta and kale are tender. Drain pasta and kale in a colander. Place pasta back in pot it was boiled in. Stir in 1 teaspoon(s) of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Serve pasta on individual plates. Alternate layers of tomato sauce, pasta with kale, and browned sausage. Top layered pasta with dollops of ricotta.
- Sprinkle with chili flakes and vegan Parmesan if desired.