One of the best things about Italy for a vegetarian is pasta. So many options! After France, it was a bit of a relief to know you’d find something to eat anywhere you went.
Italian menus will generally have appetizers, salads. a first course, a second course and desserts. Most of the second courses I’ve seen are meat-centric, although occasionally you’ll find a version of eggplant parm or something similar.
Appetizers, salads and first courses are where it’s at for us. First courses are usually pasta and appetizers will have bruschetta and vegetable or bean options.
So… onto the (numerous) different pastas I ate! It’s almost embarrassing to group them together like this but ehh, it’s like a collage of carbs. Which makes it like art… In my head.
Most of us know penne, spaghetti and a few other popular ones. In italy I came across some old favorites and some brand new types that were specific to particular areas in Italy.
Gnudi is a Florentine speciality that is more of a dumpling than a pasta. It’s made with spinach and ricotta and here, it’s done in a sage butter sauce. Yum. The texture is really light, almost airy even. Almost like a spinach and ricotta ravioli without the outside.
Tagliatelle is a thick pasta, which I tend to like better than spaghetti. When it’s cooked properly, it has a really nice bite to it and it holds on to sauces pretty well. This particular tagliatelle got paired up with mushrooms which made it a perfect option.
“Regular old spaghetti,” made fresh, is so much better than you remember from your college days. I had actually avoided ordering spaghetti for fear of a plain, boring dish. But paired with pesto, I thought how bad could it really be? It was lovely. It had a nice chewiness to it, since it hadn’t been boiled to death, and was lightly tossed in oily pesto.
Who doesn’t love gnocchi? It’s like the most decadent form of pasta. They’re essentially bite-sized pieces of potato dumplings. The few that I’ve had in Italy had more of a potato-y flavor than ones I’ve had back home.
These are a speciality of La Spezia, in the Ligurian region of Italy. Out to dinner one night, we had no idea quite what we had ordered. The waiter explained they were a speciality of La Spezia and would come as three flat pastas. He was spot on. They’re basically little discs of pasta, each with their own sauce garnish. The three here are mushroom sauce, pesto and grated cheese. They’re a bit doughy, almost like a mix between pizza and pasta.