Did you know that there are vegan typical Italian dishes to taste in each region? Discover them with us!
Italian cuisine boasts a huge list of typical dishes, covering every region traditions, from the north to the south of the country, in order to create limitless and creative menus, from appetizers to desserts.
But unless most of them are meat and fish based dishes, you'll be surprised by the numerous typical vegan dishes in basically every territory – pasta, cereals, legumes and many colorful vegetables.
So here you have an inventory of various traditional Italian specialties, classified by regions, dedicated to the lovers of classic tastes who doesn't want to quit their healthy habits.
The smallest Italian region conveys the tastes of France nearby and the richness of mountains; so, Aosta Valley cuisine includes game meat, dairy products and corn flour in several recipes. Indeed, the vegan dish you can enjoy here is the polenta.
Polenta a classic Alps specialty, an evergreen comfort food during cold winters, made by corn wheat – to make a kind of creamy puré. It is possibile to leave diary products (butter and cheese) out and just add some vegetables, like mushrooms.
Truffle from Alba
Piedmont, like Aosta Valley, is influenced by French cuisine and so it is famous for game meat and diary products, too. Even if 110% vegan dishes are hard to find hare, you can order many types of pasta with the scented truffle from Alba (Cuneo), or the famous giardiniera, a fanciful mixture of boiled and pickled vegetables.
Risotto "alla milanese" with saffron
We couldn't continue our journey without a pit stop in the region of risotto: Lombardy. The typical first course here is the risotto alla milanese (from the city of Milan), famous for its bright yellow colour given by the saffron, which is vegetarian but easily “veganizable” replacing the classic butter and parmigiano final creaming (mantecatura) with olive oil or margarine.
Jota, the potatoes soup
In Friuli Venezia Giulia, traditional cuisine is featured by many kinds of cheese but it is notable that many recipes are made of potatoes. They are the main ingredient, for example, of the jota, a soup which is also present in Slovenian tradition, a typical vegan dish made by potatoes, borlotti beans and sauerkrauts, seasoned with some bay tree leaves.
Influenced by Austria nearby, Trentino South Tyrol somehow reproduces either north Europe and western Alps tastes. And beyond game meat, of course, diary products rule. Among the few typical vegan dishes here, you must enjoy the delicious tortei, flour and grated raw potatoes croquettes, ready to be fried and to be used in replacing bread.
Rice and peas
Veneto cuisine is featured by many ingredients, mirroring its various territory between mountains and sea. Anyway, if you look for typical vegan dishes and love rice, here you'll find what you need, for example, together with the savory red lettuce from Treviso (radicchio trevigiano) or peas for the evergreen risi e bisi (that literally means rice and peas), easily veganizable if made with vegetable broth and without butter.
Tasting typical vegan dishes in Emilia Romagna, the land of tortellini, lasagna, mortadella and piadina romagnola is hard but not impossible. In many inns in Bologna, for example, you'll be able to order the friggione, a thick side dish made by stewed white onions, tomatoes and pepper and served as a sort of a cream to complement second courses or to be spread on bread slices; but first ask to be sure there's no lard in it.
Liguria, land of the scented pesto alla genovese, is a vegetarian friendly territory but it can offer some typical vegan dishes as well.
And everywhere in this region you'll be able to try the farinata, a thin chickpeas flour focaccia seasoned with pepper and rosemary e cooked in the oven, to create a delicious crunchy crust. You can also discover many other options (with onions, zucchinis, herbs etc.)
Like Liguria, Tuscany offers many meatless and fishless delights, coming from countryside tradition. A typical vegan dish, for example, is the celebrated ribollita: formerly a leftover recipe it is a comfy veggy soup, made by beans, kales, cabbages, chards, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and stale bread slices, that becomes perfect if re-heated on the next day (ribollita actually means “heated twice”).
Castelluccio lentils soup
Unlike Tuscany, Umbria is maybe one of the less veg friendly in Italy, because of a huge amount of meat and cold couts featuring its cuisine. But if you wish to eat a delicious typical vegan dish you'll enjoy the typical legumes of Umbria, the lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia, here in a delicious soup seasoned with bay leaves or rosemary.
Marche region cuisine boasts many meat and cold couts dishes, but if you take a look around you'll find some plant-based recipes from countryside tradition. Here we'd like to propose you the frecantò and it is a sort of ratatouille, a veggy side dish made by onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, a pinch of black pepper and some white wine.
Sagne and beans
Unexpectedly rich of meatless dishes, the region of the arrosticini (sheep meat skewers) won't disappoint vegans (especially during the winter) thanks to the great amount of countryside and “poor” recipes in its tradition. Among typical vegan dishes in Abruzzi cuisine you'll find, for example, the sagne e fagioli, a short format of handmade pasta, cooked with carrots and onions, tomato sauce and borlotti or tondini beans.
Carbonara, amatriciana, cacio e pepe are just three of the world-famous delights in Latium cuisine.
But during your roaming around Rome you'll find some excellent typical vegan dishes, like for example the carciofi alla Giudia, special artichokes from the Jewish cooking tradition: they're fried upside down and then seasoned with lemon juice and black pepper.
Who doesn't love Campanian cuisine?
Pizza, pasta, meat, fish and fried specialies are just a little part of the rich Campanian and Neapolitan food tradition, that shows many typical vegan dishes. You will find irresistible the pizza di scarole, a soft and fluffy focaccia stuffed with escarole, olives, capers and pine nuts, leader in Naples bakeries.
Rice and kale
Influenced by the neighbour regions tradition, Molise's cuisine presents many typical dishes recalling Campania, Apulia and Basilicata. Thanks to a huge amount of fresh ingredients, this small region offers the riso e verza, a rich typical vegan dish made by rice and kale in a steamy veggy broth, perfect to warm up during the winter.
Pasta with dried bran pepper
In the small and fascinating region of the sassi di Matera many typical vegan dishes do exist. In Basilicata you won't miss the local treasure food, the dried bran pepper, that is the peperone crusco; small and bright red, this veggy dominates in many recipes, but our favourite adds it to crispy breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, oil and a pinch of spicy pepper to prepare a fabulous pasta dish (usually spaghetti).
Orecchiette with turnip tops
The land of bread and taralli offers not only meat and fish specialties but also many fresh vegetables for first courses and leavened products. Among the most famous Apulia typical dishes for vegans we want to recall the orecchiette alle cime di rapa.
Orecchiette is a classic Apulian pasta format (the name means “small ears” because of their shape) and you can admire the way they come to life by the hands of a bunch of grannies in Bari old town; you'll enjoy them in a spicy dressing of turnip tops.
Fried courgette flowers pancakes
A landmark for spicy lovers, Calabria is not exactly the most veg friendly region in Italy, but it hides also some food green gems. A well known typical vegan dish, very popular in many southern regions but especially in Calabria, is the courgette flowers pancake, a fried mixture of flour and cold water.
Eggplants, eggplants, eggplants! Where else, beyond Sicily, could you find as many recipe with them?
Eggplants are the main ingredient of the caponata, a fanciful typical vegan dish and a sweet-and-sour side, together with cherry tomatoes, onions, celery, capers, olives, vinegar, pine nuts, tomato sauce and a pinch of sugar.
In Sardinia you can taste many original specialties but if you'll decide to visit this magic island you have to know that won't be easy to find typical vegan dishes – however it's not impossible!
The green version of the fregola, usually cooked with fish or seafood, is an example. It is a sort of pasta resembling cous cous and typically cooked in boiling broth.