My quest for vegan parmesan

30 Jul

When I first started cutting back on cheese, I bought a dairy-free parmesan substitute from the supermarket. It was a pale yellow powder that sort of had the smell of parmesan but none of the flavour. When sprinkled onto pasta, it would instantly dissolve into the pasta sauce without adding anything to the taste. It was a major disappointment. Could I really manage without dairy if that meant I couldn’t have a little bit of something cheesy on my pasta?

Not long after, I discovered nutritional yeast flakes, AKA nooch. Nooch gives a much more satisfying cheesy flavour, doesn’t disappear into the sauce (unless you want it to), and can be used to flavour other things, such as vegan cheese sauce or scrambled tofu. For a long time it was the best vegan parmesan substitute I could find.

That is until I made an accidental discovery late one night, when home alone. I’d made some tasty vegetable pasta, and couldn’t decide whether to sprinkle it with nooch or gomasio[1], so I went for a 50:50 mix of both and bingo! A satisfying parmesan-like topping for pasta.

2013-07-30 17.48.30

The gomasio adds a slightly salty nuttiness to the nooch, converting it from mild cheesiness to a fairly convincing substitute. What’s more, it adds a tiny bit of extra protein, vitamins, and minerals to your meal. I feel like my mission is complete, I’m over the moon! [Insert your own cheese pun here.]


[1] Gomasio is a mix of ground sesame seeds with salt. It’s really easy to make your own if you have a blender or spice grinder, but you can buy it in a jar too.

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6 Responses to “My quest for vegan parmesan”

  1. Sue Moir July 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Sounds like a great substitute, wish I`d seen this before making the scones I made today ( flavoured with yellow courgette and cheese) . Trouble is the cheese wasn`t quite strong enough. Still they were lovely straight out of the oven.

    • mrsveg July 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

      It might take more than one attempt to get the quantities right but I think it’s worth a go. Where did you get the recipe from?

      • Sue Moir July 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

        Made it up

      • mrsveg July 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

        We’ll have to collaborate 😉

  2. rika@veganmiam.com August 3, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    I love gomasio! It’s very good on macrobiotic dishes especially on healthy rice with adzuki beans beans! Nooch is great, too, it’s versatile in many dishes! However, there’s a really good vegan and gluten-free parmesan I love…not sure they are sold in your area…but only in the U.S., it’s called Parmela Foods parmesan. It’s amazing! x

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