Bologna is a difficult place for vegetarians, apparently.
Most of the fundamentals meals of bolognese cuisine have meat as the main ingredient and if you walk around our food markets you will see salami and mortadelle on every corner.
People who don't eat meat still can survive here?
These are 3 classics dishes of bolognese cuisine without meat not hard to find in restaurants.
White onion friggione
Onion (cipolla) is an essential ingredient in Bolognese cuisine.
It's cheap and always available in the kitchen and it's produced all over Bologna countryside (the white onion of Medicina has a very good taste and reputation).
Many traditional preparations involve the use of onions, such as tagliatelle, and they are one of the basis of meat broth.
However onions are also the main ingredient of friggione, a sauce made with tomatoes, sugar, lard and salt, whose official recipe was registered in 1886. Like most of the bolognese recipes it takes a while to be prepared, and it changes from town to town (in Modena they use peppers too) and from grandmother to grandmother.
Nowadays it's not hard to find it in the lighter version with olive oil instead of lard and, even if the purists will look away, I'm sure you will love this simple sauce on a slice of hot bread.
Where to eat it
You can find it in almost all the classic osterie in Bologna since its fame.
At Trattoria Collegio di Spagna it's quite delicious.
Trattoria Collegio di SpagnaVia Collegio di Spagna, 15, 40123
Tel. 051 6448825
Pay attention to the "O". Tortelloni are a filled pasta with ricotta cheese, egg and parsley usually served with butter, sage and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
The second "O" makes the difference, because their smaller brother tortellini have meat inside and they are cooked and served with meat broth.
As it's common for most Italian recipes, this one shows some changes according to the place where it is cooked: so you can find tortelloni filled with pumpkin and amaretto cookies in the area of Mantova and Ferrara, or with spinach in Modena.
Where to eat them
Oltre, near Mercato delle Erbe, serves tortelloni handmade by Monica and Daniela, real masters of fresh pasta.
Via Majani 1, 40122 Bologna
Tel. 051 006 6049
Piadina with salmon, avocado sauce, citronette dressing and sprouts
Piadina is a type of flatbread known since Roman age where it was usually consumed by peasant families instead of bread.
Today it's one of the most famous gastronomic products of Romagna's cuisine.
The traditional recipe includes lard (strutto) along with salt, flour and water, but if you're looking for an healthier piadina you can find it prepared with extra virgin olive oil too.
The filling can be different: I recommend squacquerone, a DOP fresh cheese produced between Forlì and Ravenna, in a combination with rocket salad.
In Modena you can eat tigelle, that look quite similar, but usually have lard inside.
Where to eat it
Sfarinà inside Mercato delle Erbe makes different kind of tasty piadina (also with olive oil)
Mercato delle Erbe Via Ugo Bassi, 25 (Box 24) 40121 Bologna
Tel. 051 269282