Vegetarianism is a lifestyle of avoiding eating meat. To some this may seem very restrictive and some may feel that one will not have a lot of food to choose from. Well, think again. There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables that can be part of delicious meals. And all over the world, there are many different types of cuisines that would satisfy a vegetarian. One that has become very famous all over the globe is that of Italian cuisine. The good news is you can have everyday Italian vegetarian recipes because a lot of the ingredients are readily available.
Italians love to use simple, quality ingredients. Because we are talking vegetarian here, we won’t need to discuss meat ingredients. We’ll be dealing with just fruits and vegetables. For authentic Italian vegetarian recipes, you must get the right ingredients and the preparation, of course.
First, pasta. Italian pasta comes in different shapes, lengths and widths. For example, pasta that looks like thin rods are called spaghetti; those that look like sheets are called lasgane; those that look like swirls are called fusilli and many other pastas. There are still some pastas that have fillings such as ravioli and tortellini. There are pastas that are made without eggs and some without. So if you’re a vegetarian who doesn’t eat eggs, you would have to check on the ingredients. Or better yet, you can make your own pasta to make sure there are no eggs in there. Italians like their pasta cooked “al dente” which means “firm to the bite.” So don’t overcook your pasta.
Olive oil. What’s good about Italian cooking is they don’t usually use animal fats (a plus for vegetarians) in their sauces. They mostly use a vegetable fat, particularly olive oil. One of the main ingredients of pesto, a sauce traditionally made in Northern Italy, is olive oil, along with basil and pine nuts.
Tomatoes. In Tuscany, Italy they like to cook with tomatoes, as with other parts of the country. These can be used fresh or cooked into tomato sauce. These can be added to different pastas and other delicious Italian dishes.
Cheese. If you’re a vegetarian that eats cheese, then with Italian dishes, you’re in for a treat. There is a vast amount and different types of cheeses that go into different kinds of meals. There are pecorino cheese, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, gorgonzola, and other types of cheeses.
Other common ingredients used in Italian cooking in the North are potatoes, rice and corn. In the South, it is also common to use peppers, olives, garlic, artichokes, oranges, eggplants and zucchini.
The Italians usually have four or five courses in their meals. If you’re a vegetarian you can have vegetarian Italian starters, main course and desserts. There are different types of them.
When you think of Italian food, one usually thinks of pasta and pizza. There are so many pizza chains all over the world and it all started in Italy. The popular pizza in America is from Neapolitan cuisine which is a flat, round type of bread baked in the oven and topped with tomato sauce, cheese and different kinds of toppings. Another dish popular in this area that uses mozzarella from water buffalo’s milk is parmigiana, a baked eggplant dish with tomato sauce and cheese.
You’ve probably had polenta before. It’s a corn-based dish traditionally made in Northern Italy. They’re also known for their pasta dishes and cheeses.
If you’re looking for Italian bread for your sandwich or as a side to meals, look to focaccia. It’s a flat bread that’s usually seasoned with simple ingredients such as olive oil and salt. You can be more creative with it and add herbs, vegetables and cheese.
If you’re looking for a rice dish, then cook risotto. It’s a creamy rice dish from Northern Italy that can be prepared with various ingredients. One vegetarian risotto dish include one with pumpkin, nutmeg and grated cheese. Another one comes with different kinds of mushrooms.
If you’re looking for a soup dish that’s easy to make, Tuscany’s ribolita is worth a try. It’s a vegetable soup from the previous day that’s reheated (or as what the name means “reboiled). Main ingredients include – leftover bread, cannellini beans, carrots, cabbage, onion and olive oil.
Italian vegetarian recipes
There is a very long list of Italian dishes so you have a lot to choose from. But for now, you can start with these two meat-free Italian recipes. Soon you will have taste of home Italian vegetarian recipes as you continue to add to your list of well-loved Italian vegetarian recipes.
You don’t have to worry about meat in this vegetarian spaghetti dish. It’s a delicious vegetarian meal. This can be your Italian vegetarian recipes main course.
15 ounces spaghetti
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 big tomatoes, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
25 ounces spaghetti sauce
15 ounces garbanzo beans
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
1. Boil the spaghetti. Directions usually ask to add salt or oil. Just follow the instructions in the package and you’ll be good.
2. Heat the pan and then add oil.
3. Saute onion, celery, garlic and tomatoes.
4. You can then add the sauce, beans, and the spices – sugar, salt and oregano.
5. Let the sauce come to a boil.
6. Drain spaghetti and then add the sauce and cheese over the pasta.
It is common for meat lovers to have meaty lasagna. But for vegetarians, eggplant lasagna is the way to go.
3 large eggplants
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
25 ounce tomato sauce
½ cup water
350 g lasagna sheets
3 cups mozzarella
½ cup parmesan
2 cups ricotta
1. Cut eggplants into 3mm slices. Season one side with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Season the other side and let sit for 15 minutes as well. Pat dry with a kitchen towel.
2. Now for the sauce. Heat a skillet and add oil. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add tomato sauce, water, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a bowl, combine all the cheeses – Parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella. Mix the eggs in as well.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
5. It’s time to layer. On a baking dish, start with the sauce then lasagna sheet then eggplant then cheese. Keep layering and end with the sauce and cheeses.
6. Before putting it in the oven, cover the dish with foil first. Then bake for 35 minutes.
7. Garnish with parsley before serving.