Are you a vegetarian planning to visit Sardinia? Don't worry! Traditional Sardinian cuisine has a lot of vegetarian dishes and nowadays our menus are more and more adapted to different eating styles, food allergies and intolerances. It's easy to find certified organic products, especially in the biggest cities, but also in the small towns, where many farmers still grow their vegetables without any chemicals, as they have always done in the past, without the need of any particular certification.
Here's some traditional vegetarian dishes you should try and, maybe, you'll fall in love with:
Culurgionis (also called culurzonis or culurgiones) with potatoes and mint.
They were traditionally made in the centre of Sardinia (in the region called Ogliastra) but nowadays they can be found almost everywhere on the island and are the special guest of every "pasta fresca" workshop, thanks to their artistic look! Basically, they are pockets of fresh pasta filled with boiled potatoes, olive oil, pecorino or ricotta cheese, garlic, mint and nutmeg. The fillings vary from region to region and sometimes from family to family! They are delicious with a fresh tomato sauce. Look for a Culurgionis workshop and try to make them, you'll see that it's not easy but the result can be amazing!
Panada with veggies and potatoes. It is a big pie typical of centre and south Sardinia, while in the north the small version is more common (panadine). According to some studies it could be a heritage of the Spanish influence in the island and it could be inspired from Spanish "empanadas". It can be filled with different vegetables, such as artichokes, aubergines or peas, each one together with potatoes. Every family has its own recipe but in general they make the pasta with flour, water, salt and olive oil (in the vegetarian version), and the filling is seasoned with garlic and dried tomatoes. The big Panada is cooked in the oven, while the small ones can be also fried. It's a perfect dish for the big family meal.
We can't forget traditional pasta! Make sure to try homemade pasta from "ancient" grains. The traditional-like pasta you can find in supermarkets is processed, it can be tasty but obviously it's not the same thing. Traditional Sardinian pasta has many different shapes, as were made with the help of different kitchenware. It goes from Malloreddus (traditional "gnocchi" of south Sardinia, made with a traditional straw basket) to Macarrones de Busa (typical of the centre of Sardinia and made with a knitting needle) or Cjiusoni (traditional "gnocchi" of north Sardinia, made with a grater) and many others in between.
If you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, arrange a workshop with a Sardinian Mamma or Nonna and learn to make them! One of the best ways to taste traditional Sardinian pasta is homemade tomato sauce, but they taste delicious even with simple ingredients such as organic extra-virgin olive oil and herbs, veggies (especially aubergines and zucchini) mushrooms or home made pesto, depending on the season.
Dulcis in fundo, the desserts! Traditional Sardinian desserts are usually made with honey, almonds, walnuts, ricotta, goat or pecorino cheese, raisins, saffron and sapa or saba (condensed must of grape). If you happen to visit the centre of the island, look for Aranzada de Pompía. It's a delicious honey and roasted almond bar with the rind of Pompía, a citrus that only grows in Sardinia (protected by Slow Food). They are cut in diamond shapes and served on a pompía, orange or lemon leaf.
Enjoy your vegetarian holiday in Sardinia!