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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegetarian Italian Recipes: 25 Healthy Meals

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These healthy and nutritious vegetarian Italian recipes are simple and satisfying. You’ll find pastas, pizzas, soups, and appetizers that are big on Italian flavors, high in nutrients, and low in calories and fat!

assortment of vegetarian Italian recipes

I’m always in the mood for Italian food! When done right, it’s got rich depth of flavors, fresh herbs, and it’s just so warm and comforting.

I mean, who doesn’t love a big bowl of pasta!?

But the problem with Italian food is often the portion size, and the amount of refined carbs. Whether that’s in white pasta noodles, or crusty pizza dough, when you think of Italian, you most definitely associate it with a carb overload.

While carbs are actually not at all bad, when you eat too much refined carbohydrates in the form of white bread, and pastas, it turns straight to sugar in your body, and has no nutritional benefit.

That is often why Italian food gets a bad rep, for not being the healthiest of meals.

However, with a few adjustments, and reducing the overall portion size that you find in many restaurants, you can enjoy a delightful arrangement of vegetarian Italian recipes without any of the guilt!

These recipes are chock full of vitamin rich vegetables, whole grain carbohydrates, and reduced oil and cheese.

The result is a lighter take on some of the Italian classics we all know and love!

What Are The Staple Ingredients in Vegetarian Italian Recipes?

olive oil and basil

When you’re stocking your pantry to create easy Italian recipes at home, you’ll need some staples. This will help you create these healthy vegetarian Italian recipes in no time at all, without having to make a special trip to the grocery store.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A good quality EVOO is in virtually every Italian recipe. It is used to sauté vegetables, make vinaigrettes, drizzle over grilled vegetables, you name it, it’s in everything.

Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar originates from Italy. It is used to create marinades and dressings.

Whole Wheat Pasta: Instead of keeping the typical white pasta on hand, I suggest keeping whole wheat pasta, lentil, or chickpea pasta in your pantry. These pastas are higher in fiber, and nutrients. Lentil and chickpea pasta also have the added benefit of added protein, which is a great addition when you’re making vegetarian recipes.

Canned Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes in the form of diced, crushed, or whole, will help you make tomato based sauces in no time at all.

Fresh Tomatoes: Just like canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes are also good to keep at the ready. Although, fresh tomatoes are not in season all year. However, when in season, fresh tomatoes can be used to make sauces, or chopped fresh for bruschetta, or sliced on top of pizza.

Onions: Another staple vegetable, onions add a great deal of flavor to sauces.

Mushrooms: Many vegetarian Italian recipes use mushrooms both in their sauces or sautéed.

Pasta Sauce: If you don’t have time to make your own pasta sauce, having a good quality authentic pasta jarred pasta sauce is good to keep in your pantry. You can quickly sauté some vegetables, cook some whole wheat pasta, and toss it together with your pre-made pasta sauce.

Italian Cheeses: Parmesan is the most widely used cheese that it grated on top of pastas, and other Italian dishes. However, some other Italian cheeses to consider keeping in your fridge include pecorino, mozzarella, ricotta, and mascarpone.

What Are The Typical Spices and Herbs Used for Vegetarian Italian Recipes?

fresh herbs in a bowl used in vegetarian Italian recipes

Garlic: Used in a variety of dishes, garlic is often sautéd in olive oil with onions to create a base to many recipes.

Basil: Fresh basil is used in sauces, both tomato based, and pesto sauces. It’s also added to salads, and used as a garnish.

Oregano: Added to marinara sauces, pizza sauce, combined into salad dressings, and added as a seasoning to vegetables, oregano is a staple Italian herb.

Rosemary: Added to breads like foccacia, or as an herb in soups or casseroles, rosemary is a woodsy, aromatic herb that contains elements of citrus and mint.

Capers: Capers are pickled flower buds that have a salty and briny flavor. They are added to puttanesca sauce.

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need to Make Italian Recipes

herbs commonly used in vegetarian Italian recipes

Dutch Oven: A Dutch oven is used to create stews and soups. The thick walls of a cast iron Dutch oven keep the food inside warm, so it also doubles as a serving dish!

Large Sauté Pan: You’ll need a large sauté pan to sauté vegetables, create amazing sauces, and toss your pasta. A sauté pan has a large flat bottom, with higher sides than other pans. It makes it ideal for making risottos, and gnocchi.

Large Baking Dish: If you plan to make lasagna, stuffed shells, or cannelloni, you’ll need a large baking dish.

Pasta Roller: If you plan to try to make your own homemade pasta, you’ll need a pasta roller! This will help you create perfectly thin and even pasta.

Mezzaluna: A mezzaluna is a double handed curved knife. It’s perfect to use to chop herbs, onions, garlic, and leafy greends.

Food Mill: If you plan to make your own homemade pasta sauces, having a food mill will make quick work of peeling tomatoes. It is also great to use for making soups, sauces, jams, and ricing potatoes.

Top Tips for Making Vegetarian Italian Recipes

  • Use seasonal vegetables in your pastas, lasagnas, and salads. This will give your dishes a nice fresh flavor. When you enjoy vegetables at their peek of freshness they are more flavorful. As a result, you can go lighter on the cheese and oil.
  • Don’t overcook your pasta. When boiling your pasta cook it until al dente. It’s also a good idea to add salt to your water before adding the pasta. This will keep your pasta from sticking together.
  • Use a quality extra virgin olive oil. Olive oils can differ greatly depending on quality. Go for the best you can afford. As a result, you won’t need to use as much, and it will last longer.
  • Don’t add too much sauce to your pasta. As Americans we tend to add way more sauce to our pastas than Italians. Lightly coat your pasta in sauce.
  • Instead of topping your pasta with sauce, add your pasta to the sauce and toss to combine.

How Do You Make Italian Recipes Healthier?

  • Use less olive oil. Italian recipes call for quite a lot of olive oil. In my opinion, it’s more than you need. While olive oil is a healthier oil to use compared to others, it is still dense in calories and fat. By reducing the amount of olive oil you use, you will drastically reduce the overall calories and fat in your recipe.
  • Don’t use white pasta. There are so many nutrient rich pastas out there. Try whole wheat pasta, lentil pasta, chickpea pasta or others. These pastas are high in fiber, protein, vitamins and nutrients. Whereas, if you opt for white pasta you are just consuming empty calories.
  • Use lots of fresh vegetables. When cooking vegetarian, make sure that you’re not just adding pasta and sauce. Load your pastas with fresh vegetables for added nutrients, and more density. The fiber in the added veggies will help keep you fuller longer too!
  • Reduce your portion size. When we go to Italian restaurants we get a huge heaping bowl of pasta which is probably meant to serve 4 not 1. Stick to portion control when it comes to the amount of pasta, or pizza, and load up on the vegetables.

Most Popular Vegetarian Italian Recipes

Pasta

When it comes to Italian recipes pasta is one of the first dishes that comes to mind. Pasta comes in so many forms. Enjoy it stuffed with cheese and spinach in a ravioli, or tucked round fluffy potato in a ghocchi. It can be layered and baked in a lasanga, or tossed in sauce. There are so many shapes of pasta including angel hair, linguine, rigatone, and more!

Here are some of my favorite pasta recipes!

spinach ravioli with roasted tomatoes and basil in a blue bowl
Spinach and Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil
Dressed up with a delicious roasted tomato sauce and fresh herbs, this store bought spinach ravioli feels like a gourmet Italian meal you can enjoy on a weeknight!
View this recipe
veggie gnocchi with spinach and white beans served in a large skillet
Veggie Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans
This Veggie Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans is the healthy gnocchi recipe you have been waiting for! It’s the perfect, easy comfort food to warm you up and keep you satisfied. 
View this recipe
vegan bolognese with lentils, served over pasta in a white bowl
Vegan Bolognese with Lentils
This hearty and healthy vegan bolognese has great texture with the addition of walnuts, lentils, and celery. It's an easy family friendly weeknight meal that's done in 30 minutes!
View this recipe
vegetarian pesto pasta with spinach and herbs, served on a white plate
Vegetarian Pesto Pasta Recipe
This Vegetarian Pesto Pasta made with spinach, herbs and whole wheat linguine is a quick and easy dinner recipe that comes together in 30 minutes. Every bite is bursting with flavor!
View this recipe
Baked healthy vegetarian lasagna in a glass casserole
Hearty, Healthy Vegetable Lasagna
This super satisfying veggie lasagna is a hearty, healthy version of the classic Italian recipe. Made with whole wheat noodles, fresh herbs, packed with veggies and a mixture of cheeses, this is a one dish meal that will soon become a favorite among your family and friends. 
View this recipe
Gluten Free Lasagna with Polenta and Vegetables
Polenta replaces traditional lasagna noodles in this hearty, gluten-free, satisfying casserole! Packed with fresh vegetables, Italian spices and cheese, it's a vegetarian friendly dish that the whole family will love.
View this recipe
homemade tagliatelle with fresh tomatoes and parmesan on wood background
Homemade Tagliatelle with a Fresh Tomato Olive Sauce
There's nothing quite like fresh pasta, and this homemade tagliatelle recipe walks you through step by step on how to make pasta at home without a machine. Finished with a fresh tomato olive sauce, its an authentic Italian dish!
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Vegetarian Pasta Bake with Italian Herbs
This cheesy, healthy, Vegetarian Pasta Bake recipe is so easy to make and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients. Lightened up with roasted veggies, paired with a rich tomato sauce, it's a meal that the whole family will enjoy!
View this recipe
pesto without pine nuts served over whole wheat pasta on a white plate with a fork and knife
Pesto Without Pine Nuts: Whole Wheat Penne with Walnut Sage Pesto
This healthy pesto without pine nuts is the perfect pasta dish for a quick and easy weeknight meal. The walnut and sage pesto is packed full of earthy flavors and is lower in fat and calories than the store bought.
View this recipe
Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce with whole wheat pasta, served in a black bowl with basil on top
Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce with Whole Wheat Pasta
This easy and delicious Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce with hidden fresh veggies, served over whole wheat pasta, makes for a quick and satisfying meal.
View this recipe

Pizza

Make a healthy homemade pizza using whole wheat pizza dough, and keep the cheese light. Top with your favorite vegetable toppings including mushrooms, fresh herbs, tomatoes, peppers, olives, capers, and more!

These easy pizza recipes are family friendly, and so much healthier than delivery!

Healthy Homemade Pizza (Vegetarian, Kid Friendly)
This healthy homemade pizza is loaded with veggies, made with a whole grain crust, and topped with gooey mozzarella and fresh parmesan. Ready in 30 minutes and guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters!
View this recipe
healthy pita pizza with goat cheese and tomatoes, served on a white plate, garnished with basil
Healthy Pita Pizza with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes
This Healthy Pita Pizza with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes is the perfect option when you have a craving for pizza but you want to keep it healthy! These personal pizzas are loaded with veggies for a well balanced meal.
View this recipe
closeup of Mushroom Flatbread with Roasted Vegetables
Mushroom Flatbread with Roasted Vegetables
A crispy whole wheat crust is topped with melty mozzarella and fresh pesto to create this mushroom flatbread that makes for an easy weeknight meal that can't be beat!
View this recipe
top view of margherita flatbread with basil and tomatoes
Healthy Margherita Flatbread
This easy and healthy Margherita Flatbread is a delicious take on the classic pizza! Topped with fresh tomatoes and basil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, it's a family friendly meal!
View this recipe
healthy vegetarian flatbread topped with fresh veggies, served on a white plate
Easy, Healthy Vegetarian Flatbread
Easy, quick, healthy and tasty – this vegetarian flatbread pizza recipe is great as a main meal for one, or as an appetizer for guests.
View this recipe

Soup

When it comes to Italian soups, plenty of herbs and vegetables make them shine. Adding beans, and pasta shells makes these soups hearty enough to create a complete meal!

white bean and kale soup, served in a white bowl, topped with parmesan cheese - top view
White Bean and Kale Soup with Parmesan Cheese
This hearty and delicious White Bean and Kale Soup with Parmesan Cheese is perfect for a winter's evening. Great for a side, but filling enough to be a healthy main dish as well. Vegetarian, gluten-free and can easily be made vegan!
View this recipe
Chunky and Hearty Pinto Bean Soup in a white bowl, topped with parmesan cheese and pasta shells top view
Chunky and Hearty Pinto Bean Soup
This chunky and hearty pinto bean soup is made with loads of veggies and pasta shells making it a nutritious and filling one-pot meal.
View this recipe
roasted vegan tomato soup topped with fresh herbs in a white bowl against a marble background, top view
Roasted Vegan Tomato Soup with Garlic
This delicious vegan tomato soup with garlic is full of healthy ingredients. It's creamy and full of flavor without the cream.
View this recipe
healthy minestrone soup, served in a white bowl, top view
Hearty, Healthy Minestrone Soup
This hearty healthy minestrone soup is filled with veggies and Italian spices. It’s the kind of soup that fills you up and sticks to your bones and warms you from the inside out. 
View this recipe
Italian Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes and Rosemary
This easy Italian Chickpea Soup is healthy, nutritious, comforting and easy to make. It can be made on the stove top or in your Instant Pot (or slow cooker).
View this recipe

Appetizers and Snacks

These appetizers, snacks, and side dishes are simple and totally full of Italian flavors. Classic bruschetta gets a twist with the addition of white beans. Creamy polenta is served with summer squash, and zucchini flowers get to be the star when stuffed with ricotta!

Caprese Bruschetta with vegetables, served on a wooden cutting board with a white and green napkin in the background
Caprese Bruschetta with White Beans
This Caprese Bruschetta has a twist with a mixture of tomatoes, zucchini, and white beans that sit on top of a whole wheat baguette, topped with fresh herbs for a finishing touch.
View this recipe
air fryer mozzarella sticks served on a wooden cutting board with tomato dipping sauce, top view
Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks
One of America’s favorite snacks just became healthier with these air fryer mozzarella sticks. This recipe is so easy and full of delicious flavor. Makes a great snack, or appetizer for your next party.
View this recipe
gluten free cheesy polenta topped with zucchini, corn and herbs, served on a white plate
Gluten Free Cheesy Polenta with Squash and Herbs
This gluten free polenta recipe allows you to enjoy creamy and cheesy polenta without any of the guilt! Served with squash, corn and fresh herbs, this dish is easy, fresh, tasty and full of flavor.
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crispy air fryer ravioli with marinara sauce, served on a white plate with sauce on the side, top view
Crispy Air Fryer Ravioli with a Spinach and Bell Pepper Marinara
Crispy Air Fryer Ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta is dipped in breadcrumbs and topped with a bell pepper and spinach marinara sauce for a healthy, satisfying, easy weeknight meal!
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Baked Zucchini Flowers with a Creamy Ricotta Filling
Made with super fresh ingredients straight from the garden, this is a simple recipe that’s sure to impress. It works well as an appetizer for guests, or you can even serve it as a light dinner or lunch along with some crusty whole grain bread and a salad.
View this recipe

I hope you were able to find some healthy vegetarian Italian recipes that you would like to make for your family!

Check Out These Other Vegetarian Dinner Recipe Round-Ups!

If you have tried any of these vegetarian Italian recipes, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

Posted In…

Italian Recipes ·

These recipes are sure to be a hit! Make a healthier pizza or a guilt-free pasta and enjoy the fresh flavors of Italy.

Many people think carbs and cheese when they think Italian, but there is so much more to appreciate: aromatic herbs, fresh ingredients, and bright flavors shine. Many of my Italian-inspired recipes are suitable for special diets, such as vegan ratatouille or gluten-free lasagna.

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