Italy is not particularly famous for vegan-friendly food options: mozzarella, seafood, spaghetti bolognese, and cheesy salami pizzas make it hard to avoid animal products. The southern-Italian region of Apulia is no exception. People love eating fresh fish, handmade mozzarella, and meatballs. Nevertheless (most likely without being aware of it) Apulians also offer vegan-friendly options! With a little bit of background knowledge, you can navigate yourself through the menu and Cafés and quickly spot vegan alternatives.
If you have ever been to Italy you probably noticed that the first meal of the day is not very important to Italians. A strong espresso and a few biscuits or a croissant (cornetto) are their standard breakfast. However, most biscuits are made with butter and eggs; if not they're specifically indicated as vegan-friendly. A quick, healthy and vegan option you will probably get at every bar is a fruit salad (macedonia) or a freshly squeezed smoothie (frullato). Almost every bar has a juice press and fresh fruit that they will be happy to cut for you.
Apulia is very creative with different kinds of bread and panini; perfect for a quick and vegan friendly lunch on-the-go, that don't take too much time from your exploring agenda. Among the most common ones in Apulia are "friselle", a twice baked crunchy bread usually topped with tomates, herbs, olive oil and vegetables of your choice. Another option which is particularly famous in the Salento peninsula is "pucce". The typical street food snack is dough baked with olives, sliced in two halves and filled with various fresh vegetables. Another typical, delicious snack without animal products is the "foccacia barese". A fluffy pizza dough baked with olives tomatoes and olive oil.
Late afternoon means Aperitivo time in Apulia! The typical Aperitvo snacks are basically all vegan. Enjoy your Aperol Spritz with "taralli", a local round snack similar to "grissini", with olives and peanuts. These three vegan finger foods are called “tris” (meaning three) in Apulia and are always vegan and often even for free.
Even if you avoid animal products you can still enjoy delicious, Neapolitan pizza and savory pasta dishes in Apulia. The pizza marinara is the simplest version of a pizza, but one of the most popular ones in Napoli, since you can enjoy the unaltered taste of the dough. It is just tomato sauce with oregano, garlic and olive oil; guaranteed vegan-friendly. Usually, there will also be a pizza "vegeteriana" on the menu with grilled vegetables and tomato sauce, but sometimes they prepare it with mozzarella, so make sure you ask beforehand. Apulia also offers vegan-friendly pasta dishes, like the local specialty "ciceri e tria". It is handmade pasta, similar to tagliatelle but without egg, chickpeas and topped with fried, crunchy pasta. Another local vegan pasta dish is "cime di rapa Orecchiette", freshly handmade pasta with broccoli rabe.
Even in the land of cheese and lasagna, you can now enjoy a carefree and delicious vegan cuisine, especially in Apulia!
Title Picture © Credits to iStock/Olga Mazyarkina
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