Nov 10, 2010

olive garden (MoFo 6)

Olive Garden - When you're here you're family!
Unless you are vegan, then you should consider yourself in-laws.

Olive Garden is an Americanized Italian, family, commercial restaurant that is not so much Italian as American fast food that overcharges and is not vegan-friendly. True to that credo, veganizing Olive Garden has been a frustrating quest. Not so much because their food is so unique that transforming them to vegan is difficult, but because my pictures of the food weren't turning out quite right. Then, I needed to streamline the recipes and hone the flavors. All in all I spent waayyy too much time on Olive Garden, making the following dishes more often than my family cared to partake of, over and over again for the past few days.

Enough whining! 

I chose Fettuccine Alfredo because once you can make the Alfredo sauce you can make practically half the menu and I love Primavera Alfredo - an Alfredo based pasta with spring vegetables. The vegan-Alfredo sauce is easy, tasty and soy-free. It thickens as it sits for a few minutes so don't stress if you don't see it thickening in the pot. Pour it over the Fettuccine like Olive Garden does and then mix it in at the table.

My second choice was Chicken Scampi
Shrimp Scampi was absolutely one of my faves when I worked at seafood places, but now I can't imagine for the life of me why I ate bugs. Yes, folks, shrimp, lobster and crab are arthropods, sharing the same kin as the roach. I'm now good with seitan, thank you very much. Looking back I am sure I loved it for the garlic and lemon. Yeah, that's it. This dish has lemon and garlic, too, making it an authentic scampi.

Lastly, my kids have been bugging me for Tiramisu. Olive Garden's tiramisu is not quite as complicated as one from  a true Italian kitchen, so it makes it easier for us home-cooks to veganize.

Of course, the bread sticks, salad and soup are what vegans go for at Olive Garden. Naturally we have to get the bread naked, the salad undressed and the soup without the cheese. While I ran out of time adapting the bread sticks and dressing (which I am working on!), the Minestrone Soup I have already blogged about and the Spinach-Artichoke Dip is another one already in the arsenal. Check those out for more Olive Garden clones.


As for the cookbook, Vegan Vittles, winner, has chosen comment #1 as the winner. I will try to find your address, but if you'd like to make sure the book gets to you asap, email me at with your address! Thanks everyone for participating! Another book contest on Friday.

Cost Breakdown:

cashew, nutritional yeast: $2.50
pasta, garlic: $3
Total to make 2 large servings:

cashew, nutritional yeast: $2.50
pasta, lemon: $3.50
seitan, flour: $3
garlic, pepper, onion, spices: $1
Total to make 2 large servings:

flour, Earth balance: $1
cashew, almond: $2
starch, flour, extract: $1
maple syrup, sugar: $2
cocoa: $1
TotL to make 6 servings:

Chick'n Scampi

Fettuccine Alfredo



  1. Those all look excellent! Primavera is my fav too! I steer clear of Olive garden since mostly everything is soaked in butter and cream. I love you cashew and nutritional yeast variation. I'll pile on some veggies and be a happy girl.... right after I finish the tiramisu that is, my fav dessert in the world!!
    can't wait to attempt these recipes!

  2. Excellent- I've just been researching tiramisu options. I think I want to try for a thicker marscapone layer than you have here though. Still, looks delicious!

  3. All of these look fantastic! Far better than Olive Garden stuff!

  4. Thanks, Gwen! This is much better for you and is very delicious. My youngest was the Alfredo Princess and she loves this, too. It's not just me!

    This Tiramisu recipe, Gwen and virtual.jess, is not an authentic one. It is the Olive Garden version one. They don't separate their layers; they kind of combine everything and top it onto the cake pieces. I am not surprised at all if there are better versions out there! Aside from that, though, this was pretty good!

    Thanks, Mo! Not only are they better but we can eat them, too!


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