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Italian Vegetarian Recipes


Italy doesn't have a vegetarian tradition per se. Quite the contrary; in the past much of the population couldn't afford to eat meat more than once a week, and as a result eating meat often was a status symbol of sorts.
This doesn't mean there are no vegetarian recipes, however. Minestrone comes to mind, and there are many other meatless dishes that will work very well as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal. Add to them tossed salad and a wine (white, probably), and you're in business!

1. Ribollita or Bread Soup

This is peasant food at its finest, a soup that derives much of its substance from stale bread (let nothing go to waste...) flavor from kale and other vegetables, and protein from beans. In short, it has it all, and will be wonderful with a tossed salad and a red wine. Chianti would be perfect.

2. Spaghetti alla Norma

Eggplant and tomato complement each other perfectly, and are even better when served over pasta. The recipe is Sicilian, and is named after the heroine of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma. It's difficult to say which honors the other more, but the pasta is very nice.

3. Ravioli Liguri

This is a very old recipe, and does have some cheese, as well as a bouple of eggs to bind the filling. They're easy to make, and if you're in a real rush you can simply shape the stuffing into small dumplings abd boil them, removing them with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface. Seasoning? If you're very hungry, Ligurian walnut sauce, or a marinara sauce. Or simply butter and sage. Enjoy your ravioli with a salad, and a Vermentino dei Colli di Luni.

4. Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Tomatoes and eggplant again, and what a voluptuous combination it is! I would serve this Neapolitan classic with crusty bread to mop up the drippings, salad, and a red, for example Aglianico del Taburno.

5. Artichokes Stuffed with Mint Leaves

These aren't as substantial as some of the above, but are quite tasty, and equally healthy. Who could ask for more? I'd serve them with a tossed salad, crusty bread, and a bottle of Colli Albani, a simple white wine.

6. Neapolitan Bell Peppers Stuffed With Pasta

Naples bosts one of Italy's richest and most imaginative cuisines, and here they outdo themselves. Serve your peppers with crusty bread, a tossed salad, and a white, for example a Falanghina.

7. Green Rice Pies

Rice and greens work quite nicely together, and are perfect in these hearty, refreshing pies.

8. Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms

Risotto with porcini embodies fall for me, and this is a fall dish if made with fresh mushrooms. Fortunately, it's almost as good with dried mushrooms, which are available year round.
In short, a treat any time. I might go with a tossed spinach salad here, and a light red, along the lines of a Chianti or a Bardolino.

9. Tiella

A wonderful vegetable casserole from the Abruzzo-Molise area; this is one of those recipes you can vary to suit your mood, adding or omitting as you please. In short, versatile.

10. Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Vegetables

Ligurians have a well-deserved reputation for slipping vegetables into everything, including other vegetables, and this makes for an extraordinary treat. Serve it with a white, along the lines of a Vermentino di Ponente.

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