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NYC, Get Ready To Chow Down on Vegan Italian Street Food at The San Gennaro Festival This Week!


If you live in New York City and are from an Italian family, you’ve likely heard of the Feast of San Gennaro. Originally a one-day religious ceremony, it was created by Italian immigrants in 1926 to honor San Januarius, the patron saint of Naples. It is now Little Italy’s longest running and perhaps, most well-known festival, thanks to being featured in scenes in The Godfather: Part II and Mean Streets. This year marks its 91st year of celebration.

On the first day of the festival, which falls on September 14th this year, the streets are closed to traffic, allowing food stands to cater to hungry patrons, Italian or not, who are looking to partake in the experience of eating authentic street food. Although when we think of Italian food, we tend to think of meat-heavy, cheese-heavy foods, it’s actually not so difficult to make it vegan. Check out Celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro by Veganizing 15 of Your Favorite Italian Dishes to see what we mean.

So, what can anyone looking to find vegan food at the festival expect to find? One vegan blogger who detailed her mission to find plant-based food said that she found fava beans, fresh-cut mangoes, broccoli rabe, hazelnuts, espresso, sorbet, and fresh-pressed vegetable juice. We reached out to festival coordinators and learned that several Italian restaurants in the area have separate vegan menus, though they could not verify whether or not said restaurants would have exclusive festival menus. If you check it out, let us know what you find!

This year, we wanted to do things a little differently. Entrées are wonderful, but Italy also happens to have a lot of traditional dishes that happen to be street food-friendly. So, we searched through the Food Monster App to find five drool-worthy vegan recipes that will get you into the spirit of celebration, whether or not you’re Italian.

1. Rosemary Arancini: Deep-Fried RisottoRosemary Arancini Italian Deep Fried Risotto

Arancini is the name of an Italian street food that is made of … wait for it — deep-fried risotto! Yes, really! These Rosemary Arancini by Trine Rask are flavored with rosemary and best enjoyed with a generous dollop of vegan creme fraiche.

2. Crispy Lasagna PocketsCrispy Lasagna Pockets [Vegan]

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Man, lasagna would be so perfect if it was just a bit more dip-able?” Well, then you’re in luck! These Crispy Lasagna Pockets by Sophia DeSantis take the magic that is lasagna and places it neatly inside crispy wontons for a perfectly portioned, portable, and delicious take on a classic Italian entéee.

3. Cheesy Spaghetti FrittataSpaghetti Frittata [Vegan]

Yes, this Cheesy Spaghetti Frittata by Simona Malerba is real — it’s a dish that’s often made with leftover pasta, but the compact size of this one makes it perfect for snacking in the streets. Not only is it real, cheesy, saucy, and savory, it’s also easy to make. Most frittatas use eggs as the binding agent, but this recipe uses chickpea flour. They can be made two ways; as a large frittata or as a bite-sized, oven-baked appetizer using a muffin tin.

4. Pizza BiancaPizza Bianca

Pizza bianca is ubiquitous in Rome, being the number one snack food that Romans buy and eat. While the U.S. is mostly unfamiliar with Pizza Bianca, you can make it at home thanks to this recipe by Dina Honke. It takes more time to make than your standard pizza crust, but the texture you get as a result it well worth the wait. It’s best when enjoyed warm, while still springy, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.

5. Cinnamon Sugar ZeppolesZeppoles: Italian Doughnuts

Zeppoles are also known as Italian doughnuts. The traditional recipe includes butter and eggs that are mixed into a dough and then deep fried. This particular recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Zeppoles by Preeti Nandula uses vegan ricotta cheese and vegan cream cheese instead of butter. The resulting fried cinnamon sugar zeppole are so airy and fluffy that you lose count of how many you ate.

For even more meat-free, dairy-free Italian eats, check out our vegan Italian recipes page and read How to Make Your Own Italian-Style Food at Home.

If you’re looking for more delicious and seasonal plant-based recipes, especially ones involving Italian food, then we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead image source:  Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

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