Vegetariano anyone?

July 24, 2008 / Food & Wine
With the availability of fresh vegetables in all seasons of the year, you would think that there would be a considerable percentage of vegetarians among the population. Not so.

In fact, Italians usually respond with a mix of amazement and adversion to anyone that declares “non mangio carne” (I don’t eat meat). Semantics don’t help the situation either, because “carne” generally translates “meat” but it specifically translates “beef”. Therefore a not unusual response is, “ok, then how about some prosciutto?”

In spite of all that, vegetarians have carved a niche in Italy albeit a small one, and every city has a few carefully run and highly frequented restaurants. We were tempted in Rome at Il Margutta and were quite pleased. Here’s one of the recipes for a very Italian vegetarian dish:

Cut 2 inch thick disks of Pecorino cheese. Flour, dip in beaten egg, and encrust with chopped almonds. Then cook slices of pear in a red wine, cinnamon, and sugar reduction. Prepare some agretti with olive oil. Then cook the Pecorino disks in a pan with some olive oil until the almonds are golden and the cheese is soft. Serve on a bed of agretti, and garnish with the pears and some coarsely crushed red peppercorns.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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