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.
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