Looking to find the best vegetarian Italian dishes that are quick and easy? You've come to the right place! We've selected 40 of our best vibrant, fresh, and easy meatless Italian meals - most of which you can serve as weeknight dinners.
Find your favorite recipe by browsing through this list, and take your pick: pasta, pizza, soups, stews, risotto, appetizers, and many more. Plus, most of these recipes are ready in less than 30 mins making them perfect for busy families with kids.
Whether you're a beginner vegetarian, omnivore or flexitarian, we're sure you'll find your new Italian favorite on this list!
BEST ITALIAN VEGETARIAN DISHES
Easy Vegetarian appetizers
These Italian vegetarian starters are simple to make, veggie-packed and guaranteed crowd-pleasers.
The first recipe on our list is naturally vegetarian and vegan (although some regions add sardines). Caponata is veggie-packed and a Sicilian eggplant salad you will love.
Tomato bruschetta is crunchy, juicy, garlicky, and perfect as an Italian appetizer, and side dish. The recipe is simple; you can make it in 10 minutes with a few basic ingredients.
Tender eggplants topped with a tasty tomato sauce and melty cheese. This recipe is a sure hit with picky adults and kids alike.
The best way to make focaccia without getting your hands dirty. Add tomatoes and herbs on top and serve with your favorite side of veggies.
Italian Rice Balls
Italian rice balls are an irresistible recipe made with leftover or cooled-down risotto of any kind coated in crunchy breadcrumbs and fried until perfectly crisp and golden brown. A perfect starter for guests and for kids' birthdays!
Crostini are small slices of crunchy toasted bread you can eat as an appetizer or easy side dish. Everyone loves crostini because they are tasty and fun to eat. Top with vegetables, pesto, and cheese to accommodate all eaters.
Fried eggplant recipe is super crunchy outside and tender inside; we make it without eggs, and it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Best Italian Vegetarian Dinners
These vegetarian main meals are perfect for guests and family gatherings. All of our recipes include vegan and vegetarian instructions, so you can cook according to your diet preferences.
Tofu with Pizzaiola Sauce
Looking for a quick vegetarian dinner? Try this 12-min dinner: tofu hugged in marinara sauce. A great main meal and meat substitute.
Beans, cabbage, and herbs come together in this rustic Italian soup. Perfect with crostini or sourdough bread.
Tofu Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
Vegan meatballs with an aromatic marinara sauce, a perfect weekday dinner!
You can make this risotto dish in just over 30 minutes and serve it for a delicious and comforting family dinner. Our recipe has vegan and vegetarian alternatives, plus ideas for cooking leftover risotto.
Pan fried tofu with mushrooms
Instead of chicken with mushrooms, we replaced it with pan-fried tofu. A protein-rich main meal ready in just 15 minutes!
Tomato Basil Pasta
This pasta is naturally vegan and made with the best and simplest ingredients from Italy. Tomato, pasta, and basil. Basta.
Garlic and Oil Pasta (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio)
We'll show you how to make this garlic and oil pasta to perfection in under 15 minutes, with simple ingredients.
Chickpea crepes - Savoury mushroom pancakes
These savory pancakes are gluten-free and they're made with simple ingredients, yet they are delicious and fulfilling. Stuffed with sauteed mushrooms and spinach for a chewy and meat-free dinner.
Italian Eggplant Parmigiana is one of the tastiest eggplant dishes ever. Its simplicity of ingredients, rich flavor, and creamy texture will make you fall in love with this delicious meal. Make it a main meal by serving it with focaccia bread or crostini.
Our vegan carbonara is a simple recipe that can be made in 15 minutes. The taste of our carbonara sauce is similar to the taste of an authentic Italian carbonara recipe, but served without bacon.
Pasta alla Norma (Eggplant Pasta)
Our pasta alla Norma (eggplant pasta) is a classic Sicilian pasta dish made with a rich and creamy tomato sauce, tender roasted eggplants, and fresh basil. Top with grated parmesan cheese for a vegetarian pasta dinner.
Rigatoni Arrabbiata is an Italian pasta dish with a spicy tomato sauce. This is a simple yet tasty recipe that you can make in just about 20 minutes with simple pantry ingredients.
Tofu Pasta (Tofu Bolognese)
Tofu pasta is a delicious vegan recipe with tasty crumbled tofu and a rich tomato sauce. This is essentially a tofu bolognese that you can put together for a quick, easy, and nutritious meal in less than 30 minutes.
Vegan Gnocchi Recipe
To make vegan gnocchi we follow the authentic recipe for Italian potato gnocchi. They are easy to make at home, and you'll need just three ingredients and a fork.
This rice salad is adapted from the Italian rice salad and it's the perfect summer dish, easy to prepare in advance, and bring with you for a picnic outdoors.
Vegan fish is soft, refreshing, juicy, lemony, and full of Mediterranean flavors. It's oven-baked with Italian seasoning and wrapped in parchment paper to concentrate its aroma and keep it juicy.
You are going to love our zucchini boats because they are filled with an earthy lentil tomato mixture that tastes so good you won't believe there's no meat in it.
Our lentil bolognese is an Italian classic with an ultra-rich and hearty sauce, perfect with pasta, lasagna, or zucchini noodles. A perfect vegetarian Sunday dinner.
Zucchini risotto is creamy, tasty, and easy to make in one pot with grated zucchini in just about 30 minutes.
This lentil soup is perfect as an everyday dinner, and as a make-ahead meal as you can store it for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, and for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Our stuffed eggplant is delicious and easy to prepare, made with tender roasted eggplant boats and three different quick and easy stuffing.
Perfect as a tasty and easy everyday dinner or as a make-ahead meal, as the chickpeas become even more flavourful the day after.
Italian Bean Stew
This Italian bean stew is easy, fulfilling, and delicious, made with simple ingredients that you might already have in your pantry.
Roasted butternut squash soup
I like to keep this soup dairy-free and vegan, as the butternut is already very creamy when blended. Expect a creamy, tasty, and comforting soup ready in just about 30 minutes.
Tempeh bolognese is an earthy, rich, and flavorful sauce that you can make in just about 20 minutes. I am not a big fan of tempeh, but it's a flavor-packed plant-based protein when cooked this way.
Asparagus risotto is creamy to perfection, light, comforting, and nutritious. If you love asparagus, you'll love it even more with risotto.
We might use tofu instead of chicken, but this meal is rich, earthy, meaty, and packed with the cacciatore flavor we all love so much. You've never had tofu like this!
Tofu and spinach cutlets
These cutlets are easy to make, with really basic, everyday ingredients, mixed together in a food processor, shaped into cutlets, and baked for just over 20 minutes.
Zucchini pasta, as in pasta with zucchini, is a creamy and easy one-pot recipe you can make as a quick dinner for the whole family.
Couscous with Vegetables
Couscous with vegetables is a delicious way of enjoying couscous. This is an easy Italian recipe that you can make in less than 30 minutes, with seasonal veggies and herbs.
Vegan Mushroom Pasta
Instead of meat, we add sauteed mushrooms to this creamy and veggie-packed pasta. Ready in just 25 minutes and perfect as an everyday vegetarian dinner.
Inspired by an Italian recipe for lemon chicken, but we replaced the chicken fillet with tofu slices. The result is a delicious meal that can be prepared in no time.
Is Italian food mostly vegetarian?
Traditional Italian food is, due to peasant tradition, influenced by vegetarian traditions such as "cucina povera": kitchen of the poor. Cucina povera refers to cooking with simple ingredients since poorer families would not have expensive or many ingredients available to them. Examples include:
- Legume-based cooking such as lentil soup, Tuscan bean soup, and bean stews.
- Bread-based meals and appetizers, such as panzanella, (bread salad), bruschetta and crostini.
- Rice instead of meat, such as rice filling in stuffed tomatoes and bell peppers.
- Naturally vegetarian pasta, such as aglio e olio, pasta pomodoro and penne arrabbiata.
Simple Italian food is amazingly flavorful. In fact, you can easily cook hundreds of tasty Italian recipes without meat and still feel satiated.
How to store Italian Vegetarian Meals
- How to store: you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- How to reheat: reheat your meal (if it's meant to be served hot) in the microwave or on a pan with a teaspoon of oil. On the second day, these meals will be stickier and less creamy.
- How to freeze: you can also freeze some of the meals for up to 3 months. To freeze, let it cool down first, then transfer them to a freezer-friendly container, leaving some space to allow it to expand. Thaw in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop. Before serving, garnish with fresh herbs, and optionally a drizzle of olive oil.
More Italian meals
If you're also a fan of Italian food, we hear you! After we moved to Italy a couple of years ago, we learned to make a lot of our favorite meals with a vegetarian spin. Here are some of our favorite Italian recipes:
- Vegan pasta recipes
- 25 Chickpea recipe ideas
- Easy tofu recipes that can replace chicken and meat.
- Add creaminess to salads and protein with these top vegan sauce recipes.
- Satisfy sweet cravings by making these indulgent vegan cakes
The Italian cuisine is fantastic, and we're eager to spread the word about Italian vegetarian cooking too. If you have questions about cooking Italian, send us a message in the comments below. We're happy to answer questions any way we can!
For many more 30-minute meal ideas, check out our 30-minute meal category page.
40 Italian Vegetarian Dishes
- Check each individual vegetarian recipe for ingredients required.
- Cook your favorite vegetarian recipe
- How to store: Keep these vegetarian meals stored in the refrigerator, ideally in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.
- How to reheat: Warm it up on the stovetop or in the microwave. Before serving garnish with fresh herbs.
- How to freeze: You can also freeze the meals for up to 3 months. To freeze, let it cool down first, then transfer them to a freezer-friendly container, leaving some space to allow it to expand. Thaw in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop. Before serving, garnish with fresh herbs, and optionally a drizzle of olive oil.
If you like these Italian vegetarian recipes, you might also like:
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