There are many delicious options if you're looking for a vegan parmesan cheese to adorn your pastas, top your pizzas and make your yummy food that much yummier. These dairy-free options can either be store-bought to homemade - and the homemade recipes just take 2-10 minutes, depending on which one you decide to make. I typically opt to make parmesan at home, since it's faster than running to the store!
However, sometimes running to the store is just that much more convenient if you're out and about, traveling or couldn't be bothered to lift a finger in the kitchen. Enter store-bought vegan parmesan!
Galaxy Nutritional Foods has a soy-based vegan parmesan alternative that is widely available in health food stores. It has a realistic texture to dairy parmesan, is cholesterol-free (like all vegan food!), very low in calories and fat, and is a half-decent source of calcium, too.
Parma! Vegan Parmesan is a raw alternative to the soy-based parmesan that Galaxy Nutritional Foods created. And the ingredient list is minuscule - only 3 ingredients, just like the two recipes I share below! You really can't go wrong with walnuts, nutritional yeast and sea salt. While it won't trick anyone into thinking it's dairy parmesan, it tastes great in its own right, and makes an excellent and healthy topping for pretty much anything.
Both products can be found in many health food stores, as well as online at stores like veganessentials.com.
Okay, so that covers the popular store-bought vegan parmesan brands. What about homemade?
For starters, I'm of the opinion that a good vegan parmesan only needs 3 ingredients. The two recipes I'll show you just have 3 ingredients each, and they each have very different but equally awesome flavor profiles.
Keep in mind that these incredibly simple recipes do not taste exactly like dairy parmesan. The point of these recipes isn't to mimic - it's to recreate the experience of eating parmesan, to give your bite of pasta that familiar salty-cheesy taste without containing any actual cheese.
The first recipe is great if you're a nooch (nutritional yeast) fan and aren't too keen on raw garlic. With the simple ingredient list of nutritional yeast, toasted sesame seeds and salt, it might seem like an odd trio for a parmesan recipe, but rest assured it's quite awesome. The nooch is what adds that "cheesy" taste, the toasted sesame seeds add body and depth, and the salt is what really makes it reminiscent of parmesan.
Vegan Parmesan - Version 1
1/4 c. white sesame seeds
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
Heat the oven to 350 F and place the sesame seeds on a dry baking pan, toasting for 4-8 minutes until they turn golden. Watch them carefully so they don't burn! Alternately, you can toast the sesame seeds on a dry skillet on the stove top.
Process the toasted sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and salt in a food processor, processing just long enough to break the seeds down into smaller chunks, but not long enough to completely break it down into butter. You don't want a paste, you want a crumble. Serve as you would dairy parmesan!
The next parmesan recipe is great if you aren't a big nooch fan, or if your pantry simply lacks this vegan staple. Salt, brazil nuts and raw garlic give this parmesan a savory quality and lots of bite.
Though the brazil nuts make a great texture for this parmesan, feel free to swap them out for another type of nut, such as almonds or sesame seeds.
Vegan Parmesan - Version 2
1/2 c. brazil nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
Process all ingredients in a small food processor until combined but still crumbly. Do not over-process or you will have paste, not parmesan. Serve like you would dairy parmesan and enjoy!
I highly recommend attempting a vegan parmesan recipe in your own kitchen. It's such a simple process, and there's tons of wiggle room in the recipes themselves if you want to switch it up and do something different. Aside from tasting really yummy, these nut- and seed-based cheeses are nutritionally superior to the dairy kind, containing important minerals like selenium (from the brazil nuts), calcium, magnesium and copper, with no cholesterol or "bad fats". Good taste and good health can be in the same sentence together!
Allysia is a certified raw food chef and health enthusiast who enjoys concocting tasty vegan recipes in her tiny kitchen. You can find her at her website The Real Meal.
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