Giada De Laurentiis’ Vegan Italian Dinners Are Filled With Meat-Free Goodness

Your three squares a day don’t have to star animal proteins to be delicious, as Food Network host Giada De Laurentiis proves with these vegan Italian meals. They’re so hearty and satisfying, you won’t believe they’re plant-based dishes.

Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis
Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

De Laurentiis’ Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes are a meatless wonder

Rice and tomatoes may not seem very filling but it’s what’s in the stuffing that satisfies. It’s comfort food in a casserole, as De Laurentiis notes on her Giadzy blog: “When I think of comfort food from my childhood, these rice-stuffed tomatoes come to mind straight away! This is a signature dish from my mom, Veronica – it has a lot of simple, comforting flavors, and it has a great stick-to-your-ribs quality while being pretty healthy.”

Reviewers praised the warming goodness of crispy potatoes paired with risotto and tomatoes.

“I made this for my family tonight for the first time and we all loved it – including the 1.5-year-old! We will absolutely make this again. Great idea for a side dish when entertaining too,” said one home cook, while another added, “We loved this recipe. It made great leftovers for lunch the next day.”

The chef’s Pasta alla Formiana goes in the oven with uncooked pasta

Fresh tomatoes play a lead role in this casserole dish as well: “The pasta absorbs a flavorful blend of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and oregano over time, which gives it tons of great flavor,” De Laurentiis says. “This is a fabulous way to use up a bounty of large, ripe tomatoes – they get incredibly sweet and delicious in the oven.”

Canned crushed tomatoes, fresh chopped garlic, olive oil, and oregano are blended in a food processor to start this meat-free dish off. Fresh tomato slices are placed on the bottom of a baking dish. The tomato mixture is poured over the tomatoes and uncooked small pasta is poured over it. The chef notes that it’s important to “ensure each piece of pasta is coated in sauce.” Place the remaining tomato slices over the pasta, sprinkle with olive oil, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until “the tomatoes are slightly crispy and the pasta is cooked.”

One reviewer at first was skeptical about using uncooked pasta but was bowled over by the result: “Buonissimo! What a perfect dish to use the tomatoes and savor their freshness. The flavor of the sauce totally soaks into the pasta in a way that it cannot do when the pasta is boiled.”

Her Grilled Panzanella Salad is a filling yet light meal

De Laurentiis’ Panzanella Salad is ready in minutes and hits the spot. Six slices of rustic wheat bread are placed on a baking sheet along with two zucchini, two eggplants, two fennel bulbs, four tomatoes, and two green onions, all sliced in half. Toss with olive oil and “grill in batches” on a grill pan or a charcoal grill.

Once the bread is crusty and the veggies are soft, remove from the grill and allow to cool off. Chop all of the items and place into a bowl. Toss it with freshly chopped basil. De Laurentiis’ dressing of 2 tablespoons of oil, a quarter-cup of white balsamic vinegar, and a quarter-teaspoon of salt are whisked together and tossed with the salad ingredients.

A home cook on Giadzy succinctly noted, “This is very good for a vegan like me.”

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