The three-year-old and I tried a new experiment the other day: Together, we made vegan “Parmesan Cheese.” I know! I’m not one to enjoy fake foods of any kind. No soy bacon for me, thank you, or whatever they use to make fake bacon. No low-fat cheese or fat-free sour cream either. Ugh!
But I have a loved one with diabetes to think about when I cook now, and I keep seeing articles from other bloggers about the tasty Vegan Parm they make and how much their families like it. Worth a try, right?
We used this recipe by Madison Butler at Veggieful.com. The little’un is getting quite good at measuring ingredients, and loves pouring them into the bowl. When I turn on the noisy food processor, though, she squeezes her eyes shut, covers her ears and shouts, “Tell me when it’s done, YayYay!”
Butler makes her vegan parm from cashew nuts, nutritional yeast and salt. It’s incredibly easy. To make this cheese substitute, you will need a food processor and the following ingredients.
- 1 C Raw cashews
- 1/4 C Nutritional yeast
- 1 t Sea, Celtic or Pink Himalayan salt
In the food processor, run the raw cashews, nutritional yeast and salt until they reach the consistency of finely grated Parmesan cheese, like this.
Store in a reusable container, such as a Fido jar (see my review here), and refrigerate and use on top of pastas, salads, and any other way you might use Parmesan cheese.
Now, I love cheese, many cheeses in fact. I’m fussy about my Parmesan. No green can for me, thank you. I buy a hunk of the real deal and grate it myself. (Take a look at A Parma Style Cheese to see why imported is the best tasting.)
I didn’t expect this to taste like good, freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It doesn’t. But if we allow ourselves to enjoy it for what it is, rather than what it isn’t, we find we like it. No, it’s not as rich or flavorful as the real deal. Yes, it is satisfying in its own way, as a salty, slightly cheesy topping.
The other day, I sprinkled some on my lunch-time pasta and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I don’t kid myself. That somewhat cheesy aroma of the nutritional yeast is merely a hint of the complex scent of a good, imported Parmigiano Reggiano. If I were serving a carefully prepared meal where every morsel had to be just perfect, I’d opt for the real deal. So far, this is a winner for everyday fare.
What? You’re shocked that every meal I prepare isn’t stupendous? Let’s just say, they’re all tasty. Except for the mistakes, of course. I do a lot of experimentation in the kitchen!
We tried this vegan parma on popcorn too. Since the diabetes diagnosis, we don’t eat it every weekend like we used to, and certainly not buttery, salty, cheesy rich. We’ve tried nutritional yeast on our popcorn in place of Parmesan cheese and it was … okay. This cheesy substitute definitely takes it up a notch.
Neither of us would say this recipe tastes as good on our popcorn as freshly-grated Parmesan Reggiano. But this slimmed-down, more nutritious option tastes good enough that we can add popcorn back into our weekend treats. Yay!
What do you think? If lowering fat and/or dairy is part of your diet today, might you give this vegan cheese substitute a try? Do you have a similar recipe you’d like to share that does this one better?