It’s easy to make vegan parmesan at home. I have two recipes for you to try today!
Both recipes are in Let Them Eat Vegan. One is for the nooch-lovers, the other is perfect if you aren’t so fond of nutritional yeast.
Vegan Parmesan #1: Cheesy Sprinkle:
This vegan parmesan combines almonds with cashews, along with seasoning and nutritional yeast. For me, the blend of cashews and almonds is just right – cashews being a little softer/creamier and almonds harder/drier. This is my favorite blend, but of course if you prefer to use the full amount of either cashews or almonds you certainly can. It’s pretty much an ‘instant’ parmesan. Once processed, ready to use.
For a nut-free version, check out my recipe in Plant-Powered Families.
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup raw almonds see note
- 1/4 cup raw cashews or more raw almonds
- 1/2 tsp scant sea salt (about ¼ + 1/8 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest optional
- Put all the ingredients into a standing blender and pulse until very fine and crumbly. Don’t overprocess, just pulse several times. That’s it! Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Makes about 1 scant cup
- Adult-Minded: Try adding 1⁄8 teaspoon of onion or garlic powder.
- Kid-Friendly: I make this often for our kiddos, and make it quick and simple using just the nooch, nuts, and salt. You may enjoy added flavor depth from the zest, but it’s not essential.
- Savvy Subs and Adds: To make this mixtre nut free, substitute the almonds and cashews with: 3 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp chia seeds (preferably white chia), and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or sesame or sunflower). Voila!
Let’s talk about parmesan and vegan parmesan.
When I became vegan, parmesan was the last and hardest cheese for me to stop eating. I even bought rice parmesan for a period of time (which was misleading because it contained casein). And you know what? I was hooked on that rice parmesan. I remember searching town for it once when I ran out.
It wasn’t until later that I realized the casein was the culprit. As my friend Julieanna Hever explains in this clip, casein is VERY addictive. And, as Dr. Colin Campbell outlines in The China Study, casein is particularly bad for the body, and promotes the development of cancer. Dairy is bad news. Once I finally kicked the casein – dairy was no longer an issue. I didn’t crave it, didn’t want it. No longer did I “need” that parmesan on my pasta or salads.
Vegan Parmesan #2: Brazil Nut Parm
For me, this is the closest thing to a parmesan topping. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like parmesan, but it gives you the same pleasurable notes as a parmesan… it is salty, tangy, and a richness from the natural whole-foods fats in the nuts.
Unlike the Cheesy Sprinkle, this vegan parmesan delivers the mouth taste and feel. And, it’s all from the technique. It’s the slow, low-heat baking of the sprinkle that allows the tart lemon flavor to infuse into the processed brazil nuts, along with just a hint of cheesy flavor from the nooch that makes magic happen.
It’s especially delicious on pasta, such as my Tomato Artichoke Pasta (check it out in LTEV if you have it)!
Brazil Nut Vegan Parmesan
There are many versions of vegan Parmesans available, and in fairness, none of them are really like dairy Parmesan. But, we don’t need them to be! What we want is a tangy, salty, rich-tasting sprinkle that we can use for topping salads, pastas, pizza, and more. This topping delivers!
- 1½ cups brazil nuts see notes
- ½ tsp little scant sea salt
- 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 275°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Process the brazil nuts in a food processor or blender until fine and crumbly. Don’t overprocess, or they will begin to heat and become pasty. Just pulse until finely crumbled. Spread on the prepared pan. Toss in the salt, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Use your fingers to work these ingredients through the crumbled nuts. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, being sure to toss three or four times through the baking process (and check during last minutes of baking; the mixture should become dry and maybe a touch golden around the edges, but should not brown). Remove from the oven, let cool, and transfer to a container to refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups.
- If This Apron Could Talk: If you cannot eat brazil nuts, I would substitute 1 1/2 cups raw almonds. You could also try about 1 1/4 cup of almonds along with 1/4 cup of pine nuts.
- After trying this for the first time, you might want to double your batch the next time round. It can disappear quickly! It’s one of my husband’s favorites; in fact, he keeps saying, “You should bottle this up and sell it”!
- Kid-Friendly: Your little ones might love this just the way it is, but you can try bumping up the nooch another tablespoon to make it a little more cheesy. Also see Cheesy Sprinkle (recipe follows) for a cheesier-tasting topping.
- Serving Suggestions: Any tomato-based pasta sauce will welcome this seasoning, as will a very modestly dressed pasta, such as one with olive oil and lemon juice. This topping works wonders on salads, and adds crunch and depth to cooked rice and other grains, as well as simple bean preparations.
I’d love to hear how you like these vegan parmesan recipes! x Dreena