Italians love their meat. There is no doubt about it. Everywhere you look, you will find meat in various forms, from salty prosciutto to juicy meatballs. If you are a vegetarian, you may think that it will be difficult to eat in Italy. The reality is quite different.
For centuries people here have been eating according to the Mediterranean diet. It is very heavy on grains, legumes, and vegetables. This means that you will find many vegetable-based Italian dishes there. In this article, we will give you some tips to follow to be able to eat like royalty when visiting Italy, even as a vegetarian.
1. Eat what the locals eat;
Italians love to eat what is grown around them and are fond of vegetables. They pick them and then cook them straight away. Every region has its unique way of dealing with vegetables so you can enjoy various vegetarian dishes based on where you are.
Vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers are popular ingredients in Italian cooking, and they can be found in a variety of dishes. From eggplant parmigiana to zucchini fritters, there’s no shortage of delicious options for vegetarians to try.
They are even often eaten as an antipasto before the pasta and main dish. In this way, you will see them add extras such as a ball of burrata cheese over some grilled vegetables and garnished with basil, for instance.
2. Go for the pasta course;
Pasta is a first course, or primo piatto, in the Italian way of eating. It is a perfect way to make sure that you are getting a vegetarian option. Pasta sauces that are vegetable based are on just about every menu. Very rarely will you need to ask for a special order to get pasta without any meat?
Spaghetti with tomato sauce is a classic and simple dish that showcases the freshness of the tomatoes and the richness of the olive oil. Lasagna, with its layers of pasta, cheese, and vegetables, is a hearty and filling option. Fettuccine Alfredo, made with cream, butter, and parmesan cheese, is a creamy and indulgent dish.
The best part about eating pasta as a vegetarian is that you will eat a lot of whatever is in season. This means that if you are there in the spring, expect a lot of asparagus pasta. In the fall, expect mushrooms.
Pizza is a staple in Italian cuisine and is widely available in the country. The classic Margherita pizza, with its tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, is a must-try for vegetarians.
If you’re looking for a lighter option, consider ordering a pizza Bianca, which is a white pizza without tomato sauce. This pizza is often topped with olive oil, cheese, and vegetables, such as roasted eggplant, zucchini, or bell peppers.
When ordering pizza in Italy, it’s important to remember that traditional Italian pizza is thin-crust and cooked in a wood-fired oven. The high heat creates a crispy and flavorful crust, and the ingredients are cooked to perfection.