Italian vegetarian food is far more than just risotto (although with so many rice growing regions across the country, it’s certainly a dish the Italians do well). From the truffles of Tuscany to the plump, fragrant tomatoes of Campania, Italy’s regions all offer their own unique produce which lend themselves perfectly to creating a whole host of imaginative vegetarian dishes. It is no surprise, then, that the first vegetarian restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star was in Italy. This Milan-based restaurant, Joia, maintains its star to this day, with head chef Fabrizio Marino continuing to lead the ‘natural cuisine’ movement across Italy.
Create a vegetarian dinner party menu that’s full of surprises with this collection of ingenious vegetarian Italian recipes, all of which demonstrate the versatility and imagination of Italy’s greatest chefs. Start as you mean to go on with Fabrizio Marino’s Gourmet pizza, a superb vegetarian starter dish made from aubergine, herbs and a striking charcoal mayonnaise, or try his equally colourful Butterfly salad, featuring radicchio, green cabbage, carrots, spinach and beetroot to create a veritable vegetarian feast for all the senses. If you’d prefer a pasta starter try Emanuele Scarello’s luxurious Gnocchi with truffle recipe, or Lorenzo Cogo’s elegant dairy-free starter recipe, Ravioli with chamomile, tequila and almond milk.
For a protein-packed main course Fabrizio Marino’s Buckwheat, milk and cheese, with chunky buckwheat rounds topped with sage and a deceptively simple milk foam, is wonderfully original, while the Costardi Brothers utilise one of the country’s best loved vegetables for their 'Essential aubergine' recipe. With tender sous vide aubergine paired alongside a vibrant combination of pesto and passata, this dish beautifully showcases the aubergine’s soft, meaty flesh.