Meatless Monday: Learning to Cook Mario-Batali Style Vegetarian Food at Eataly

BLISSTREE, November 12, 2012.  by Briana Rognlin. View original here.

Mario Batali may not be the first person who comes to mind when you hear the words “vegetarian recipes,” but as one of the most prominent champions of Meatless Monday, he should be. His restaurants all feature at least two “Meatless Monday-friendly” (that’s code for vegetarian) dishes, alongside his meatier offerings, and he’s even designated a special “MM” logo to designate them. And at New York’s Eataly, the 50,000 square-foot Italian food and wine marketplace that Batali co-owns, he even offers Meatless Monday cooking classes. To find out how Batali does Meatless Monday, we went to La Scuola di Eataly to check it out.

The class, of course, isn’t taught by Batali himself. Chef-instructor Alicia Walter, whose qualifications include experience as Eataly’s vegetable butcher, and being a vegetarian who loves Italian food, takes the helm in teaching and designing the class. Her menu varies; most often the course centers around a particular region of Italy. My class was all about Piedmonte–which is fortunate, given that it’s known for truffles, rich dishes and, like most parts of Italy, really good wine.

Walter’s approach wasn’t to “lighten up” traditional Piedmonte food or use the ingredients for something you’d get in a So-Cal cafe. Instead, she simply found ways to create authentic Piedmonte dishes, without the meat. Beet tartare, Tajarin pasta with White Truffles, and Polenta with Black Truffle and Roasted Vegetables were on the menu, and all were a great reminder that you don’t have to give up delicious, traditional style dishes in order to avoid meat.

And can you really imagine Mario Batali doing Meatless Monday any other way?