When you think of Italian food, is your first thought of the heavier dishes at typical red sauce joints? Chicken parm, pizza, fettuccine alfredo... they all have their place, but even in winter, there are some lighter, healthy Italian recipes that are perfectly fit to grace your Meatless Monday table. We've sought out our favorites, chock full of nutrients, colors, and flavors, to bring out the best in vegetarian Italian food this week.
Minestrone is a classic Italian soup; the word itself means "big soup," and that's exactly what it is. This vegetarian Minestrone recipe has loads of healthy vegetables, a hearty tomato flavor, and just the right amount of umami thanks to the Parmesan. If you're making a big batch and are planning on having leftovers, don't add the pasta to the big pot. Instead, add pasta directly to the amount you're serving, so that it doesn't soak up too much liquid in the leftovers and become soggy and lose all-important texture.
Image of spaghetti squashfrom Shutterstock
Pasta is an Italian classic, but at least as far as we're concerned, most of the point of pasta is the sauce. A delicious red sauce made either with fresh or with canned or jarred tomatoes is just as tasty on spaghetti squash as it is on pasta, and this spaghetti squash with tomato sauce has the added benefit of being gluten-free and low in calories.
Polenta and mushrooms image via Shutterstock
The flavorful cuisine of northern Italy often finds itself overshadowed by the pastas and pizzas of the south, but there's definitely something to be said for polenta. When made from yellow cornmeal, polenta is an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates and carotenoids. Because much of the corn production in the U.S. is genetically modified, be sure to source polenta from an organic, GMO-free source; De la Estancia, a company from Argentina, produces great organic GMO-free polenta that you can find easily on Amazon. Topped with balsamic roasted mushrooms, garlic, and parsley, this polenta is a complete meal that's perfect for Meatless Monday.
Photo by Ally-Jane
Risotto is yet another delicious Italian dish, but when made with plain white rice, it tends to be not that nutrient-dense. That's why we love this barley risotto with sweet potatoes. Barley is high in minerals like manganese, selenium, and vitamin B1, and with the added carrots and sweet potatoes in this recipe, you get a nice hearty dose of vitamin A as well.
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Minestrone soup image via Shutterstock