There are a lot of prejudices when it comes to Italian food, often I am asked: can you offer a vegetarian alternative? Do you have any vegan specialities? Of course, I can! Actually, I don’t even struggle to come up with ideas for them; why? Well, think about the two most famous Italian dishes; pizza and pasta, they are the perfect example of a healthy and delicious meal, one of my favourite pizzas is with grilled courgettes and aubergines. Pesto is the tastiest and best sauce for your pasta; especially when you add cubed potatoes and green beans to your boiling pasta.
Of course, if you limit your imagination to spaghetti Bolognese (which by the way is really not Italian – see past blog), you will easily miss fantastic savoury pies, soups, lasagne and any fried veg. I guess you really don’t want to limit yourself, right? One of my favourite recipes, suitable for both vegetarians and vegans is the Sicilian Caponata. [Recipe] It is a very simple dish, with cheap and basic ingredients but it is so good and full of flavour! A similar and very well-known dish is the French Ratatouille (also made famous by Pixar) but has a different twist, thanks to the tomato sauce.
There are two not so famous (in the UK) recipes that are part of my childhood memories, one is “torta pasqualina”, a pie made with artichokes, ricotta and eggs, it is every vegetarian's dream in my opinion [Recipe]. A similar pie, but not covered with pastry crust, is the one made with spinach and chard, I’m not even sure it has a name as my grandma used to call it “the green pie”, made with chards, eggs and cheese.
If you are still unsure about an Italian alternative for your vegetarian meals think about aubergine parmigiana, frittatas and sharing plates of cheese, from the northern mountains to Sicily you will easily find something delicious for your palate.
On a sweet note, it is quite easy to tweak some traditional recipes and make amazing vegan pannacotta with soy or rice milk, vegan gelatine and fresh berry sauce.
Will you consider a vegetarian alternative for your Italian meals now?