With the number of vegans in Britain having risen by more than 360% in the past decade and with around one in every 118 people giving up meat*, it’s safe to say going meat-free is no longer a niche diet for the conscientious few.
In response to this ever-growing demand for more vegetarian and vegan choices and a more flexitarian approach to dining, Carluccio’s is getting a green makeover this month with its first ever exclusively vegetarian pop-up, featuring dishes from Antonio Carluccio, in collaboration with food blogger and writer Anna Barnett.
From 23 October for four consecutive Mondays (reflecting the Meat Free Monday non-for-profit campaign that encourages people to make an environmental difference and improve their health by having at least one meat free day each week) the Cucina Verde will be popping-up on the first floor of Carluccio’s flagship restaurant on Covent Garden’s Garrick Street. Spaces are limited so make sure you book online from Friday 13th October or call the restaurant on 020 7836 0990 quoting ‘Cucina Verde’.
Taking vegetables from humble sides to championing elements, the entire first floor of the Covent Garden restaurant will be converted into a meatless dining experience, with eye-catching displays of key ingredients reflecting the quality and provenance of the produce.
The first national restaurant group in the UK to launch such an initiative, the Cucina Verde marks the arrival of Carluccio’s Autumn/Winter menu which features one of the largest selections of vegan and vegetarian dishes of any nationwide restaurant group.
Antonio Carluccio comments: “Vegetables are very important in Italian food culture and are often the stars of the show, it’s not uncommon for dishes to be exclusively plant-based. Our new Autumn Winter menu takes vegetables and makes them the main event in many of Carluccio’s new dishes.”
Suitable for vegans, autumn/winter menu choices include crostini al funghi, sautéed mushrooms and kale in garlic and chilli on toasted ciabatta; the traditional Puglian dish with a vegan twist of polpette di pane featuring meatless bread balls of semi-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers and rustica olives in a tomato sauce on spaghetti and orecchiette al cavoflore with cauliflower purée, sautéed kale, chilli and roasted turmeric cauliflower florets.
Other vegetarian choices, all of which can be adapted for vegan diets, include the vibrant zucca con verdure arrostite – roasted butternut squash and vegetables with pine nuts (served with or without goat’s cheese) and garlic herb breadcrumbs and pasta e fagioli, a traditional thick soup of pasta, borlotti beans and tomatoes from northern Italy.
Simply too good to every take off the menu are Carluccio’s signature vegetable dishes of penne giardiniera, giant Pugliese penne with crispy spinach balls; Antonio’s famous mushroom risotto with a hint of chilli and truffle oil as well as a fabulous sharing verdure board laden with roasted peppers with garlic, tomato and onion, poponcini peppers with pesto, red onion marmalade with goat’s cheese bruschetta, marinated artichokes, balsamic onions, caponata, mint & garlic marinated green beans, mixed olives, caper berries and homemade focaccia.
With the new menu available across the UK and Ireland this month, and the pop-up putting down temporary roots in Covent Garden from 23rd October, come and celebrate the joy of vegetables. Buon appetito!
* From a poll of almost 10,000 people, carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine, May 2016.
Carluccio’s 2a Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9BH