“So Good It’s Nuts” (With Nut Free Option)
By Jennifer Provenza at Good Food From The Heart (Updated 2/13/2022)
Tangy and flavorful, this dairy free parmesan cheese substitute topping will add more flavor (and more nutritional value) to your pasta than traditional Parmesan cheese. Made with cashews, simply substitute pumpkin seeds for a nut free option.
Whole foods plant based, oil free, sugar free, gluten free, soy free, nut free option
Perfect Pasta Topping
One thing I’m very much looking forward to over the holidays is getting to have my Vegan Italian Pesto Pasta for dinner. (Italians generally have Italian food on Christmas day). And, of course, I’ll be topping it with this dairy free “Parmesan” cheese topping. Now, of course, traditionally parmigiano reggiano is made of cow’s milk. However, if you don’t eat dairy, you may have been searching for a healthy and delicious substitute. You may have been asking, “Is there really a dairy free alternative to parmesan cheese that tastes good?” ” Does vegan parmesan taste good?” or “What’s a decent substitute for parmesan cheese?” Your search has come to an end here. Not only is this recipe delicious, but this alternative quick homemade vegan parmesan is whole food plant based and free of oil. What could be better than that?
Let me tell you, it took me a long time to find an acceptable alternative to Parmesan cheese for topping my pasta. I had always topped my pasta, lasagna, risotto, and soup with a generous serving of Parmesan or Romano cheese. Giving it up really affected the taste of the final dish, in my opinion. I tried adding extra salt, which helped a little, but salt was not the only missing flavor. I tried topping with nutritional yeast, but again, it just wasn’t the same. Ground nuts and salt were okay, but I still felt there was a lack of flavor. Finally, I hit on replacing some of that missing fat with a healthy fat (avocado), adding a cheesy component (nutritional yeast), and then adding some extra delicious flavor. That flavor comes in the form of lemon zest and rosemary. I love Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional yeast for this recipe.
Cashews or pumpkin seeds: These offer a healthy fat and are the building block of the recipe. Use pumpkin seeds if you cannot consume nuts.
Nutritional Yeast: This adds a great “cheesy” flavor.
Rosemary: Adds a fresh, delicious twist.
Lemon Zest: Adds a fresh, zippy flavor.
Avocado: Helps hold it all together and adds healthy fat and creamy mouthfeel.
Garlic: Adds a ton of flavor and depth.
For the nuts: Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds if you cannot consume nuts. You can also substitute a different nut, such as almonds, if you prefer or only have those on hand.
For the Nutritional Yeast: If you aren’t a fan, simply leave it out and the recipe will still work.
For the rosemary: Basil makes another great option. Increase the amount to 2 tablespoons.
For the avocado: You can leave it out, but it will be more powdery and less creamy.
For the garlic: You can leave it out or replace with garlic powder if preferred.
For the lemon zest: I recommend leaving it off if you plan to serve with a red sauce dish.
There are many versions out there, but I promise you that mine is the most delicious and flavorful one you will try. This recipe includes lemon zest, rosemary, nutritional yeast (or nooch), cashews, garlic, and avocado.
Yes! Simply substitute pumpkin seeds for the cashews and this recipe will be nut free.
Yes! It is totally gluten free.
No, this won’t melt. It’s more similar to a powdered parmesan consistency. You will want to try my vegan mozzarella for a melty vegan cheese.
It really is! It’s full of nutrients and healthy fats. (Feel free to lower the salt if you have high blood pressure.)
You can store this in the fridge for a couple of days and can freeze it for up to several months.
Yes. This can be an asiago substitute or romano substitute as well.
How To Make Dairy Free Parmesan Cheese
This vegan parmesan cheese recipe is super easy and comes together in just a couple of minutes. Simply process all the ingredients together in the food processor until it has the texture of course breadcrumbs. This goes great on any of my pasta recipes, including my Pesto Pasta.
Best Dairy Free Parmesan Cheese Substitute
- Food Processor
- 1/2 cup raw cashews (or pumpkin seeds)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon avocado
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest grated (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Put cashews or pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, avocado flesh, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, and sea salt in the food processor. Process until it has the consistency of course breadcrumbs. Serve over pasta, rice, soup, etc…
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