For too long vegan options have been pushed to the bottom of the menu, often existing as stripped-down dishes lacking flavour and love. Not at Vapiano. This open-kitchen, Italian-inspired restaurant is launching three vegan friendly specials which are complete meals in themselves.

A sign of good vegan food is when people who are not vegan are happy to order it – something which seems to be already the case at Vapiano. And because the food is free from animal products it often incorporates new flavours, textures and nutritious ingredients. If you want a healthy meal with restaurant flair, the specials at Vapiano may well be for you.

First to get plenty of attention is the Funghi Bolognaise, based on a thick and authentic ragu sauce made from mushrooms, carrots and celery. The ground texture of the mushrooms is so close to an authentic bolognaise base you may well be surprised so goodbye Quorn, hello mushroom mince, I say.

Combined with Vapiano’s homemade tomato sauce, this is a pasta dish set to impress.  They’ve even managed to get around some of the typical problems associated with ragu sauces like stringy onions and  undercooked garlic by bathing the onions in a soy sauce and fresh herb marinade to begin. Beautiful.

Whilst the Funghi Bolognaise gives a much-loved pasta dish a new lease of life – plus you can pick your own fresh pasta, with the brown spelt option particularly healthy –  the Zuaa Caramellata risotto is an exciting blend of Italian with Eastern inspiration!

You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy three new specials at this Corn Exchange restaurant I Love Manchester

It’s a warming bowl of pumpkin packed goodness and one to keep in mind with Halloween coming up. There’s nothing scary about this dish though, and it is such a refreshing change from the typical mushroom risotto which is a standard option for veggies and vegans across the country.  Goodbye grey bowls of goo and hello to rice which is twice as nice. Creamy risotto rice is combined with Hokkaido pumpkin and a homemade sauce of orange juice, coconut milk, a hint of vegan white wine, sesame, lime and ginger. When topped with the chilli oil, freely available on your table, this is a flavour sensation.

Vapiano are clearly showing that our favourite foods different cuisines can be both vegan and seriously tasty.

Finally, proving that comfort food can be vegan is a pizza option! The Con Cipolle Balsamico is a brilliant pizza packed so full of flavour you won’t even miss the cheese. Instead a hand-crafted base is topped with their own tomato sauce, fruity balsamic shallots, courgette, aubergine, fresh basil and rosemary. This is like a ratatouille revitalised so hats off to Vapiano for bringing the best of two dishes into one.

In some places, vegan food seems treated as an aside or inconvenience but here the food is cooked fresh in front of you, so you can see that the chefs put as much time and care into these options as anything else. Plus, because you watch the chef prepare your meal, you can ask them to customise it as you like.

There even is the option to top your meal with parmesan for those who may want to try the vegan menu option but do eat animal products themselves. The choice is yours and the light, chilled-out atmosphere makes it even more enjoyable.

The three vegan specials are available until the end of October.

For more information visit uk.vapiano.com or follow @VapianoUK #VapianoMCR.

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