It’s considerably easier for people in Italy to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle than it is in historically meat-consuming societies, like the UK and North America. For our daily meals, Italians mostly depend on local foods and the cycles of the natural world. Pasta, pizza, and polenta are the three magic Ps, but there is a wide variety of traditional dishes that don’t have animal protein. Due in large part to the nation’s rich cultural legacy, the typical Italian cuisine is very vegetarian-friendly.

It was only during the industrial revolution that Italy became opulent. Animal protein was considered a luxury that was out of reach for some social classes until that point. Particularly in the nation’s most impoverished rural parts. La Cucina Povera’s classic vegetarian recipes are a testament to the austerity of the late 1800s. Both traditional cuisine and local specialties are offered equally.

It’s really not very common in Italy to consume red meat. A typical family’s diet consists mostly of eggs, dairy products, shellfish, and cured pig in addition to a range of white meats. However, Italy is also the nation with the most interesting vegetarian side dishes on its menus. Consider fully plant-based meals and different seasonal crop species utilized in local recipes. 

A vast array of grains, pulses, and legumes, olive oil, organic eggs, vegetable sauces, substantial soups, mouthwatering condiments, copious amounts of cheese, and an abundance of fresh fruit are all staples of Italian menus.

Here are a few samples of Italy’s abundant vegetarian cuisine. To see the recipes, click the titles.

Melanzane Parmigiana

This may be the most well-known vegetarian meal in Italy. layers of chopped mozzarella, grated Parmigiano, tomato sauce, basil, and fried eggplant. Except from using Parmigiano cheese, this is completely unrelated to Parma, despite its name.

Learn to make rice stuffed tomatoes with Eleonora

Pomodori al Riso

One of the greatest ways Italians know to use the summer produce is rice cooked inside a roasted beefsteak tomato. Pomodori al riso are often made at home by Italians. However, they may also be bought in deli-style canteens called Tavola Calda, already baked. After the juicy tomatoes are hollowed out, uncooked rice is combined with the pulp, meat, and seeds mixture. Tossed back into the tomato shells, nestled amid potato wedges on a small dish, and roasted in the oven until extremely flavorful, it was seasoned with garlic, generous amounts of basil and oregano, olive oil, and salt. 

top 20 vegetarian dishes of italy - gnocchi alla romana

Roman Gnocchi

While potato gnocchi are popular in Italy, gnocchi alla romana, which are also vegetarian, are not as well-known. The dish’s modest components, such semolina, have their roots in traditional peasant cuisine. Made with semolina, milk, butter, grated Parmigiano, beaten eggs, crushed nutmeg, salt, and black pepper, this delectable delicacy is indigenous to the Lazio area. The thick dough was formed into discs the size of a hockey puck and put together in an oven pan that had been oiled. Just generously sprinkled with a generous quantity of grated Parmigiano and butter specks, then cooked au gratin in the oven.

pasta e patate neapolitan recipe

The outcome is a flavorful and tasty dish that works well for any dinner.

Giudia Carciofi Alla

You will undoubtedly come across the Jewish neighborhood on Tiber Island while meandering through the streets of Rome. Carciofi alla giudia, or artichokes prepared in the Jewish tradition, is one of the most well-liked desserts in this region. The history of the vegetarian dish begins in the 16th century, when Rome’s Jewish population introduced the city’s citizens to artichokes. Artichokes are double-fried to resemble golden sunflowers after giving them a thorough scrubbing and soaking in lemon water.

pasta e fagioli is vegetarian

Pasta with Fagioli

The most affordable and delicious legumes found in Italian kitchens are known as fagioli, or beans as they are locally called. Pasta e fagioli, the famous soup of pasta and beans, is a common dish prepared by peasants using leftover pasta and borlotti beans. Excellent vegetarian food that’s very fairly priced.

panzanella vegetarian dishes of italy

The Panzanella

This is a clever technique to repurpose bread leftovers for summertime cooking. Among the goods that Italians recycle successfully is bread. Cooks rejuvenate the crumbled sourdough fragments by using the juices and pulp of finely sliced fresh tomatoes, cucumber slices, finely chopped red onion, and an abundance of fresh basil. Season with thick glugs of white wine vinegar and olive oil. Salt and pepper are all you need to season. Panzanella makes a great dish for vegans as well.

friselle are vegetarian


a twice-cooked bread native to Puglia, Calabria, and Campania. Forming into rings, the durum wheat buns were baked until almost done, then divided into pieces and baked again until they were very firm. Both the classic and whole-grain varieties are equally well-liked. Making this vegetarian dish is easy. Soak the friselle in water for three minutes, then cover with your favorite cheese, eggs, vegetables, and seasonings.

agretti - italian vegetarian


Knots of meaty grass that resemble seaweed and are rich in iron and earth are sometimes referred to as “friar beards.” Grown between March and June in the Lazio marshlands, arugretti are named for their somewhat bitter and slightly salty flavor. Because they resemble green spaghetti and are high in iron, youngsters like eating aglietti. prepared in a number of methods, such as stir-frying with garlic and olive oil, or steam-fried with a few drops of lemon juice.

pasta alla norma

Pasta alla Norma 

Catania, in Sicily, is known for its pasta dishes that include fried eggplant, tomato sauce, basil, and salty ricotta shavings. This dish, which is vegetarian and named after the opera “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini, a resident of Catania, is a classic example of home-style Sicilian cooking. In the past, eggplant’s meaty taste was often utilized in place of meat during shortages. A salt rub allows fresh ricotta to go through its natural maturing process, becoming crumbly, delicious, and firm. A cheese that can be grated or eaten. generously topped with ricotta salata and paired with zesty tomato and eggplant sauce. 

tortelli vegetarian dish of italy


Northern Italy has a wide selection of ravioli and other egg-dough packed pasta if you’re a ravioli lover. roasted pumpkin, cheese, eggs, crumbled amaretto cookies, and mostarda, a tart fruit chutney. All have a place in the filling of these mouthwatering vegetarian tortelli, which are popular in northern Italy’s Mantua and Ferrara. Vegetarian-friendly substitutes for meat-stuffed tortellini include cappellacci filled with cheese, artichoke, or mushrooms, and tortelloni with ricotta and spinach. The dressing, which is just plain brown butter, takes back stage.



a kind of handmade pasta from Puglia that is produced with water and twice-ground semolina flour. The form that resembles a little ear is referenced in the name. We offered two recipes, one for a summer version with tomato and arugula and the other a vegetarian version of the traditional Puglia dish with cime di rapa, or turnip tips, often known as broccoli rabe.

puttanesca is vegan


Around the start of the 18th century, in Naples, Italy, the vegetarian meal first appeared. It’s unclear why the vegetarian meal got its moniker, which translates to “harlot-style.” The obvious allusion to the sauce’s pungent scent, vivid, seductive hues, and hot and spicy taste might be one explanation. According to a different account, a madam from Naples, Italy, provided it to potential clients as a means of luring them into her brothel. I adore Italy!

Making ravioli capresi

Capresi Ravioli

Capri’s delicious icon is the torta caprese. The island’s specialty is delicious pasta pockets that are perfectly spherical and packed with eggs, marjoram, and semi-aged cheese. A traditional local cuisine that has been passed down through the generations is ravioli cappuccini. 

mozzarella in carrozza

Carrozza Mozzarella

This snack elevates the grilled cheese idea to a whole new level. This dish, which calls for pieces of crustless sandwich bread packed with fresh mozzarella, is traditional for vegetarians. These are cooked in a skillet after being dipped in flour, breadcrumbs, and whisked eggs. The frying process melts the mozzarella while the coating keeps it within. Its name literally translates to “mozzarella in a carriage,” but after it’s fried, it loses its crispness and cannot be left uneaten for more than a few minutes.

maccu aka fava bean purée


This southern Italian vegetarian meal is created with crushed, dried fava beans, often known as broad beans. The use of puréed fava beans stretches back to the Roman era, when daily nourishment consisted mostly of legumes. Although maccu is a soup in and of itself, it is a component in many other recipes. Consider Maccu di San Giuseppe, a dish offered on March 19, Italian Father’s Day, that consists of chestnuts and other legumes. Fava bean purée, or fave e cicoria in Puglia, is made with bitter dandelion greens and a little dressing of olive oil. The creamy smoothness and sweetness of the pureed beans are counterbalanced by the bitter flavors of the cicoria.

caponata is vegetarian


Sicilian caponata is a sweet and sour meal made with just summer vegetables. allegedly influenced by Spanish and Arabic cooking. The meal is slow-simmered in a sharp, sour-sweet sauce and has pine nuts, celery, onions, olives, capers, and sautéed eggplant with a dash of tomato sauce. A side dish or appetizer is caponata.

orzotto is an italian vegetarian dish

Symphony No.

Classic Italian risotto is well-known to everybody, but what about orzotto? Orzo is the Italian word for barley, if riso is rice. In Italy, we like to add some robust pearl barley to our grain dishes to change things up a little from arborio. Barley is used in summer salads and winter soups since it’s high in fiber and minerals. It works very well in place of rice in risotto as well. Just like rice in risotto, barley should be cooked for orzotto. For a vegan version, omit the grated cheese at the end and replace the butter with olive oil.

Which Italian vegetarian meal is your favorite?