By Soren Rivero
What’s your favorite cuisine?
If you answered ‘Italian’, you'd by no means be alone – in fact, it's by far one of the most popular cuisines in the entire world! But while lasagne, prosciutto di parma, and gelato are all fan-favorites, have you ever wanted some plant-based Italian dishes? If you're looking for some vegan Italian food for your trip to Italy, then keep reading!
We’re all aware that pizza is one of the most well-known foods of Italy, but unfortunately, the highlight of pizza (cheese!), makes it very much not vegan.
That’s where ciccio comes in! Ciccio is essentially just the pizza base without any toppings, meaning no tomato sauce, cheese, meat, or even vegetables. It’s popular in the city of Bari and surrounding areas, and though it seems simple, it's a surprisingly delicious dish. You’re free to add back the sauce (if it suits your diet/taste preferences) or traditional toppings such as mushrooms, tomatoes, or onions. Ciccio makes for a quick and easy Italian recipe to make at home, too!
No trip to Italy is complete without tasting some of the must-try Italian street food. If you’re looking for something quick and vegan to get while roaming through the streets of Venice or Rome, then you must try Puccia!
Puccia is Italy’s take on a stuffed sandwich. They can be found at many shops and restaurants, but if you want an authentic taste, stop by a puccerie. These are small sandwich shops which are known for their puccia making skills, most commonly found in the Southern region of Apulia. You can stuff them with as many vegetables as you see fit, and even add some vegan meat and cheese replacements!
6. Risi e Bisi
Don’t you just love how smoothly the name of this dish rolls off the tongue? If not, well, at least your tastebuds will enjoy the flavors of this simple vegan Italian dish.
Risi e Bisi is an Italian version of rice and peas. Depending on where you go, this dish can include cuts of meat such as ham, which can be omitted. This creamy, heartwarming dish comes from Venice and is a popular one-pot Italian dish, so you can even try making it at home! Alternatively, you can look up some vegan friendly Italian restaurants on your Italy trip.
5. Pea and Bread Soup
Another heartwarming dish is this healthy soup from the Southern regions of Italy. The name of this dish changes depending on where you go. Some call it ceca mariti (which is also the name of a completely different pasta dish), ribollita, muersi, or other names.
Whichever name you find it under, this dish is made from vegetable stock, peas, leafy greens, other vegetables, and fried bread. If you can find this deliciously healthy Italian dish, definitely give it a try!
4. Caponata Alla Siciliana
Caponata Alla Siciliana is a native Sicilian stew that can be served as a side dish, appetizer, or even a main dish.
Occasionally just called Caponata, this versatile dish is made from eggplants, peppers, celery, tomatoes, capers, and other vegetables doused in agrodolce. Agrodolce is a sticky sauce that’s both sweet and sour, crafted from vinegar and some type of sweetener (to make it vegan, opt for sugar instead of honey). Top some on a slice of bread for a Mediterranean-inspired Italian masterpiece, perfect for anyone trying to stay vegan in Italy.
This next pick is another comfort food popular among the Southern regions of Italy, especially near Puglia where the dish was invented.
Friselle (sometimes called Frisa), is dried bread soaked in water and olive oil topped with tomatoes and more olive oil and salt. Sometimes other toppings are added, such as olives and pickled vegetables.
2. Arrabbiata Beans
Rather than using pasta, this dish uses beans to infuse a hefty dose of protein and fiber into a heartwarming (and rather cheap) meal. Some places add meat, vegetables, and cheese, so just ask for substitutions depending on your lifestyle and diet. Keep in mind that this dish is usually rather spicy thanks to the peppers and garlic, so if that’s not your thing, opt for another popular vegan Italian food!
A traditional dessert that’s very popular throughout the Basilicata region of Italy, these little cookies are crumbly and packed with earthy flavors. Their name roughly translates to “mangle” which makes sense considering their texture and shape.
Strazzate is typically flavored with an Italian liqueur called Strega, but some other substitutes may be used. The chocolate version of these cookies are extremely popular too, so be sure to give both a try! These are naturally vegan and made with olive oil as a binding agent – however, some places might use eggs, so just double-check before.
Language Lesson: If you want to say "I'm Vegan" in Italian, you say "Sono vegana/o"! If you want to know how to order vegan food in Italian, you can say "Avete piatti vegani nel menù" (Do you have any vegan dishes on the menu)?
Which dishes will you try on your trip to Italy?