My Mom had a kids clothing store when we were growing up, and beside it was (maybe still is) a cute little Italian deli. Besides the fact that this meant my sisters and I got first crack at the new West Beach sweatshirts, it also meant a humongous, crusty, ciabatta loaf and a fresh block of parmesan cheese with grater joined us for dinner many nights of the week. Thanks Italian deli, it was fun, I’m glad we broke up but I still miss you sometimes.
This parmesan cheese doesn’t really resemble the mighty king of cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano –I’m not totally delusional. In fact it might be closer to the scary plastic shaker of parmesan that sat in the door of the fridge or at the by-the-slice pizza joint. It is infinitely better for you though, as it is not only dairy-free but it is actually made out of real food. Nuts actually, and seeds, the stuff you are encouraged to add to your meals anyway.
It tastes cheesy, thanks to a combo of dulse (seaweed), salt (it wouldn’t be cheese without), garlic powder (hits home the savoury) and most importantly, nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is different from the yeast found in bread that can cause bacterial imbalance in your gut and promote candida. It is a de-activated yeast that is actually high in protein as well as many nutrients and chromium, which helps to balance blood sugar. I use a small amount here and there when I want to add some cheese-like funk to a recipe without the actual cheese.
This Parmesan cheese recipe is very simple to make, and better still, lasts in your fridge for weeks at a time. It’s not unlike making mustard, a little bit of effort and suddenly you have a guilt-free, nutrient-packed condiment in your fridge to make healthy, speedy, underwhelming snacks do the running man. (A good thing!)
The show-off version of this recipe involves soaking the nuts and seeds overnight, and then dehydrating them in a food dehydrator for 24 hours or so, until they are bone-dry again, before you make the recipe. This will remove their enzyme inhibitors deeming them ‘activated’ nuts and seeds, making them easier to digest. It’s not like it is hard to do, and if you have a dehydrator, are doing a big batch, giving some away and really going for it, then why not? But I don’t want you to not make this recipe because that step trips you up, it’s not a huge deal either way, especially since you only eat little bits of it at a time.
I keep it in a jar in my fridge and put it on the table with a spoon when we are having anything parm-appropriate. Remember these black-eyed peas? Or this roasted cauliflower with romesco? Or these fresh and feisty zoodles? They are all screaming for a sprinkle of this raw, vegan, life of the party parmesan cheese.
- ½ c Pumpkin Seeds
- ¼ c Cashews
- 4 Brazil Nuts
- ½ tsp Dulse
- 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
- ¾ tsp Sea(weed) Salt
- In a food processor, blend everything up until it is all finely ground, but not turned into a butter. About 15-20 seconds.
- Store in a covered container in the fridge and sprinkle on anything that screams for a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.