I have a few different approaches I take when I'm creating vegan and vegetarian versions of traditionally non-vegan and vegetarian dishes. There are some dishes that I like to recreate in a way that's as true to the original as possible. So success would mean it might fool someone into thinking they're not eating vegan or vegetarian. I did this with my vegan fettuccine kalefredo. And then there are dishes where I take some inspiration from the traditional non-vegan or vegetarian version, and totally switch things up by using ingredients that maybe just vaguely resemble the meat or dairy-based ingredients.
Cioppino is an Italian-American stew that I never knew exited back when I ate meat, but basically it involves a garlicky tomato base, lots of wine, and a nice variety of seafood. The seafood can vary from batch to batch, and I've heard cooks say they typically go with the "catch of the day." So when I set out to create a vegan version, I thought, "Why not just go with the veggie (or veggies) of the day?" That's just what I did.
Zucchini, and peppers will be in season pretty soon, and both go deliciously with tomato and garlic. Shiitake mushrooms have a meaty feel to me, with lots of savory flavor, but they still have a light and delicate texture, kind of like seafood, so I threw them in as well. Some chickpeas round out the stew and make it hearty enough to make a meal of—especially if you serve it up with some crusty bread, which is kind of a must for cioppino.
Feel free to switch up the ingredients in this one based on what's in season or what you have on hand. Eggplant could easily stand in for the mushrooms, yellow squash or asparagus for the zucchini, and kidney or cannellini beans for the chickpeas.
- ¼ cup olive oil divided
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms caps sliced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ cups dry red wine
- 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 14 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium zucchini chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Chopped fresh basil
- Crusty bread slices
- Coat the bottom of a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook about 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Remove the mushrooms from the pot and transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the pepper is soft and the onions translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
- Return the mushrooms to the pot and stir in the wine. Raise the heat and bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until reduced by about half.
- Stir in the chickpeas, diced tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, broth, sugar, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens up a bit and the mushrooms are very tender. Stir in the zucchini and continue cooking for about 5 minutes more, until tender.
- Remove from heat and remove the bay leaves. Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste, and adjust any other seasonings to your liking.
- Ladle into bowls and top with fresh parsley and basil. Serve with bread.