If there isn't a dish that hasn't been reworked, then Roman cuisine can also be done in a vegan key. And a place in Rome proves to have succeeded in the enterprise
When it comes to tradition, souls light up and tongues are on fire. Even if cooking has always been an evolving path. This is also true for Roman gastronomy, which still remains today a continuous operation of reinterpretation, exchange and improvement. As in the case of the carbonara itself, a recipe with a recent history, which in “La Cucina Italiana” of 1954 appeared with garlic, gruyere and pancetta.
We can therefore think of one Roman cuisine in a veg key? A local in Rome tried it, Romano Refuge, which since 2016 has decided to combine traditional Italian and Roman dishes with their vegan interpretations. In addition to offering contemporary vegan cuisine.
As the chef says Davide Leo, is a choice that arises from many assumptions. First of all for a form of curiosity and creativity. «There is carbonara di mare, there will also be veg. I am a big fan of garlic, oil and chilli. Do you know that even great chefs have revisited this dish? We just want to discover other ingredients, "he says, emphasizing the fun and inclusive aspect of his work.
Then there is the desire to fill the void in those who miss certain dishes, certain shapes and flavors. It's a way to practice known recipes, using only plant-based ingredients. And then there is also the attention to tourists, many, who travel to the capital. If they are vegan, will they have to give up on tasting a carbonara forever? According to the chef of the restaurant, no one should be deprived of a dish if there is an alternative. And in the case of desserts, for example, whose recipes have been refined over the years, the difference between one dessert and another is imperceptible.
To understand how to see Roman cuisine in this new light, we have collected five simple tips from Davide Leo, suitable for even the most skeptical, which take into account the flavors, aesthetics and also the nutritional values of the ingredients.
The good alternative to bacon
The king of many Roman pastas, it can be easily replaced with seitan and tofu which, when processed and cooked in an intelligent way, can restore an equally structured flavor and which do not differ too much from the meat in consistency. Both tofu and seitan can be enriched with spices, for example with smoked salt or pepper, or with herbs, such as rosemary and fennel. The crunchiness is then served if you resort to frying.
How to replace the egg
Eggs can be replaced in various ways. It really depends on the destination recipe. With fruit in sweet preparations (such as bananas) with chickpea flour and other completely natural thickeners in savory preparations. There is no specific ingredient. Indeed, there is never a specific ingredient. So much so that it is not only the ingredient, but also its processing and cooking that restore a certain flavor.
There is a world for cheeses
Parmesan, pecorino, butter, milk: in Roman cuisine there are more cheeses, just think of cacio e pepe. Good news: replacing cheeses, or rather, as Leo specifies, milk and its derivatives is very easy and with a little patience you can also make it at home. Just use nuts like almonds, cashews and macadamia nuts. One of the most common vegan cheese and pepper recipes starts with cashews.
Escalopes, Saltimbocca and Scacciatora
Meat also has interesting alternatives, which can be processed with marinades, stocks and smokes. Here the reference ingredient is seitan, used for both scallops and saltimbocca with vegan sliced. And then the "Scacciatora" which makes fun of the world of hunting, and is a dish in which the seitan is worked like a braised meat and accompanied with a reduction of Montepulciano.
The pizza and the supplì
We are in Rome and the Roman pizza cannot be missing (even if that of Rifugio Romano is not a pure Roman one, but slightly more consistent). For mozzarella we always refer to the great world of milk and its derivatives. So you can use a veg mozzarella for the toppings and so also for the inside of the supplì, prepared with tomato and a vegetable sauté. For the breading, it can be done in two steps: one in a flour and water batter and the other in breadcrumbs.
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