Why is it important for restaurants to offer a range of vegetarian options on their menu? Let’s look at some of the reasons:

  1. Vegetarianism has been on the rise for some time, and it is essential to meet the demands of a growing number of vegetarian customers. 
  2. Providing vegetarian options helps to create a feeling of inclusivity which means more customers viewing the restaurant in a positive light. 
  3. Appealing to a broader base of customers can help a restaurant to gain an advantage over competitors. 

So what are the best vegetarian recipes that can help you to do so?

Given the versatility of pasta and gnocchi, there are plenty of ways to prepare meals that are meat-free, original, and delicious. Such dishes are, in fact, great options not only for vegetarian customers but also those without any specific dietary requirements. 

Meat Free Diets

While “vegetarian” is an umbrella term that refers to all people who do not eat meat, many customers describe themselves with more specific terms. This usually includes the following three categories. 

Vegetarian: A person who does not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but may consume dairy products, eggs, and other animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan: A person who does not consume any animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey, among others.

Pescatarian: A person who does not eat meat or poultry but consumes fish and other seafood, as well as plant-based foods and possibly dairy and eggs.

We’ve compiled our favourite meatless recipe ideas using a variety of vegetables as well as filling sauces, pasta and gnocchi.  

Vegetarian Dishes

The aim of preparing high-quality recipes is to ensure customer satisfaction. This means being able to have enjoyable options that match a variety of dietary requirements at any stage of their meal. Vegetarian options must, therefore, be available in various forms, including appetizers, soups, salads, and main courses. 

Black Bean Salsa

Meat-free Appetizers

Appetizers are important because they allow consumers to begin their dining experience with small, pleasant items that set the tone for the rest of the meal. Starters give guests the first impression of their meal. Plus, as a shared plate, guests need to take into account everyone’s dietary preferences. 

Olivieri® Gourmet Tomato Sauce is a rich combination of ripe tomatoes and flavourful herbs that can be added to a range of meat-free appetizers. It adds a delicious touch to all types of pasta dishes, bringing classic marinara flavours with a juicy twist. Whether your customers prefer spaghetti, 3 Formaggi Tortellini, or anything in between, this sauce is sure to complement it well. Serve it as a dip or spread it on a pizza loaded with mushrooms, cheese, and roasted garlic for an extra burst of flavour.

Menu Idea: With just four ingredients, you can create Black Bean Salsa, a Tex-Mex flavoured dish that serves as an excellent meal starter, snack, side dish, or spread. The combination of black beans, corn, marinara sauce, and spicy jalapeños creates a flavourful bowl that can be paired with tortilla chips, crackers, or other vegetable sticks. Create this tasty starter in just a few steps:

  • Mix together our Gourmet Tomato Sauce, black beans, corn, and jalapeños in a bowl.
  • Serve the dip with crispy tortilla chips.

    Tasty Tip: Top the dip with shredded cheddar cheese and some fresh sliced jalapeños.

This versatile sauce can be used in a variety of pasta dishes in addition to Black Bean Salsa, adding flavour and convenience to your menu.

At Olivieri®, we offer a range of pesto sauces in different styles, all of which can be used when making zesty starters:

Pesto Supreme – A savoury blend of basil, oil, parmesan and Romano cheese that doesn’t include nuts in the ingredients!

Pesto with Pine Nuts – A distinct twist on one of the world’s most popular sauces, containing almonds for extra nutty notes for an old-world feel.

Sundried Tomato Pesto – Combines fresh basil pesto with tangy sundried tomatoes for a rich and unique flavour.

Red Pepper Pesto – A savoury blend of basil, oil, parmesan cheese, and roasted red peppers.

Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato Crostini

Menu Idea: Bite-sized, full of flavour, make Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato Crostini with 5 simple ingredients. Crostini are a simple appetizer, requiring little effort to prepare. Simply just follow these steps to create this delicious appetizer:

  • Bake slices of warmed garlic bread on a baking sheet until toasted.
  • Spread Olivieri Basil Pesto Supreme evenly on each slice.
  • Top each piece with mozzarella, a slice of tomato, and a few leaves of basil.

    Flavour Tip: Drizzle a balsamic reduction over slices at the end!
Mama’s Tortellini Soup

Vegetarian-Friendly Soups

Vegetarian soups are a flexible menu item all-year-round given that they can be prepared in a broad range of styles. They can be creamy, brothy, or hearty, and served hot or cold. Soups are also cost-effective, considering that they contain mostly water, and that vegetables and legumes are often less expensive than meat. What’s more, offering a soup du jour is a great way to use surplus vegetables and reduce waste.

Soup Advantages

  1. One of the main benefits of the fresh pasta used in this dish is that it cooks in a very short amount of time but still produces that homemade taste of authentic Italian cuisine. 
  2. While soup remains warm in the soup well all day, staff can simply take pre-portioned tortellini straight from the freezer. Bring a ladle or two of soup to a gentle boil and cook for 6-8 minutes. 
  3. Soup can be prepared by food expeditors or serving staff during slow times of the day.

Menu Idea: By using Olivieri® 3 Formaggi Tortellini, a fresh pasta filled with cheese and spinach, making a hearty and comforting Tortellini Soup is a simple task for kitchen staff. This recipe requires no more than 25 minutes prep time in total and is exceptionally simple to follow in these few steps:

  • Boil chicken or beef broth.
  • Add in our 3 Formaggi Tortellini and simmer.
  • Add in parsley and fresh spinach and cook till wilted.
  • Serve homemade quality soup.

    Serving Tip: Serve with warm slices of bread for dipping.

As an alternative, you can prepare the same dish but with Olivieri® 3 Formaggi Rainbow Tortellini, a multi-coloured and nutrient-dense variety, offering subtle differences in taste and a visually-appealing twist.

Pasta Salads

Pasta salads made with vegetarian-friendly ingredients, whole grain pasta, and dressings can provide a satisfying and nutritious meal. Here are some the benefits they can bring to a restaurant:

Versatility: They can be customized to suit different tastes and dietary choices, making them a popular option for customers.

Long shelf life: They can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator, allowing restaurants to prepare them ahead of time and reduce the risk of running out of food during peak hours.

Cost-effective: They are made from affordable ingredients, and therefore, a cost-effective menu item for restaurants.

Easy to transport: Pasta salads are easy to transport, making them a convenient option for catering and take-out services. 

Popularity: Pasta salads are popular, making them a reliable option for restaurants to include on their salad bars or other menu options.

Tasty Tuscan Tortellini Salad

Menu Idea: Our 3 Formaggi Tortellini can be used for this Tasty Tuscan Tortellini Salad. This dish is loaded with delicious flavours and is ready in just a few steps:

  • Cook our 3 Formaggi Tortellini to an internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF) in salted water and drain. 
  • Blend together our Pesto Basil Supreme sauce with vinaigrette and toss with the pasta while still warm. 
  • Add sliced Mushrooms, Provolone cheese, thinly sliced roasted red peppers, chopped green olives.
  • Refrigerate and keep cold.
  • Before serving, toss with extra pesto vinaigrette.
  • Serve with a juicy tomato and basil leaves.

    Tasty Tip: Toss in some chopped walnuts for an added crunch!
Gnocchi Pasta Salad
Gnocchi Pasta Salad

Make a Gnocchi Pasta Salad made up of four main ingredients, and the cooking time required can be as short as 2 minutes. This can be made with Fresh Classic Potato Gnocchi which have a traditional and authentic quality. Follow these steps:

  • Make Gnocchi in advance. Bring Olivieri® Fresh Gnocchi to a light boil and cook until an internal temperature of 74°C (165 °F) and drain.
  • Chill gnocchi in freezer or ice box.
  • Toss together gnocchi, halved multi-coloured cherry tomatoes, and bocconcini pearls in our Basil Pesto Supreme sauce. 
  • Serve with fresh chives sprinkled on top.

Olivieri® Foodservice Tortellini offers 40% better yield than fully cooked tortellini options. 

Mediterranean Mushroom Lovers Ravioli - Vegetarian Blog
Mediterranean Cheese Ravioli

Vegetarian Main Course Dishes

It is essential for restaurants to have a range of vegetarian options available as main course dishes, given that main courses are most important for customers. In doing so, a restaurant continues to show it is committed to meeting the diverse dietary needs of its customers and is flexible and innovative in its menu offerings. 

Vegetarian customers can enjoy the flavours of Southern Europe with a sophisticated Mediterranean meal! Prepare our Cheese Ravioli and top with a sauce packed with bold Italian flavours! Simply follow these simple steps: 

  1. Sauté diced onion, minced garlic, Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Mix in spinach and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until wilted. 
  3. Stir in tomato sauce; bring to simmer. 

Plating Tip: Don’t forget those final touches that make your menu items picture perfect like adding a garnish of fresh parsley and feta crumbles.


Benefits of our Cheese Ravioli:

  1. Can be kept frozen for up to 1 year.
  2. Ready after 6 – 8 minutes of boiling in water, making it a quick and convenient option for busy restaurants.
  3. Can be filled with a variety of ingredients, allowing restaurants to offer a range of flavours and options to customers.
Skillet cheese gnocchi with marinara sauce_Vegetarian Recipes for Restaurants blog
Gnocchi with Gourmet Tomato Sauce

Menu Idea: Create a simple Gnocchi with Gourmet Tomato Sauce dish that will be a fast favourite for all ages. It is another great option, and one that can be ready is less than 10 minutes. Simply follow these steps:

  • Sauté our Fresh Potato Gnocchi in oil until heated through and golden brown.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat up our Gourmet Tomato Sauce.
  • Serve gnocchi wth sauce on the side to give customers the option to mix together or dip!

    Tasty Tip: Top with grated mozzarella or fresh Parmesan for a cheesy finish!

For an even easier plate that saves time and prep work, choose one of our Gourmet Sauces to coat Olivieri® Ravioli.

Benefits of our Gnocchi:

  1. Cooks in just 2 minutes of boiling which saves time and requires no additional training.
  2. Can be paired with a variety of sauces and ingredients, allowing restaurants to offer a range of flavours and options to customers.
  3. It is popular, making it a safe option for restaurants to include on their menus.

Fresh Potato Gnocchi are popular among vegetarians because they can be easily flavoured and combined with a variety of sauces and ingredients to make complete meals. They can be served with sauces made from fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices, or topped with cheese and other vegetarian-friendly ingredients to create delicious dishes. Their texture and versatility make them a popular choice for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. These gnocchi recipes provide various options for menus.

For a quick dish that boasts plenty of flavour, toss together Cheese Cappelletti with brown butter and sage.

  1. Sauté sage in melted butter until butter browns and leaves turn crispy. Remove leaves, cool, crumble and set aside.
  2. Prepare Cheese Cappelletti according to directions, then transfer to pan with browned butter, add toasted pine nuts, turn heat to low and gently toss the cappelletti, coating in browned butter.
  3. Top with Parmesan and crumbled sage.

What’s more is that it pairs beautifully with a side salad and can be served as a hearty lunch or dinner.

Whether you are in need of appetizers, soups, pasta salads, or main courses, there are a wealth of vegetarian options available for customers. By taking them on board, and having an inclusive menu, the benefits reach both restaurant owners and customers alike.