For many people following a Whole-food Plant-based or Vegan diet, cheese is often mentioned as the food most difficult to give up. While working through my second plant-based cooking course I have learning about building umami flavours in plant-based dishes. Personally, I think it’s not always the cheese or meat people miss, it’s the umami flavours that animal proteins easily bring to a dish. In a plant-based dish it takes little more thought and knowledge to create these richer, complex flavours.
Here are two recipes for plant-based parmesan. Adding a “cheesy” note is a quick way to add umami flavours to a WFPB dish.
Quick and easy, all you need is a food processor or vortex blender, a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar would work too. A great savoury topping to sprinkle on a warm pasta dish or as a contrasting crunch on a salad.
- 1 cup unsalted cashews (150 g)
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Put all ingredients in your food processor, or whatever kitchen implement or appliance you are going to use to grind it. Pulse/grind the mix until it resembles small crumbs. Store in an airtight container.
This dehydrated version has fooled my co-workers (professional chefs), they were confident it was a dairy based parmesan. It stores well and can be used as shards or grated if you make it thick enough. A high speed blender will make a beautifully smooth mixture that you dehydrate. You could use your oven on it’s lowest temperature. This method take 24 to 36 hours, to allow for fermentation and dehydration, but stores easily for future use.
- 65g pinenuts (½ Cup)
- 130g cashew nut pieces (1 Cup)
- Filtered water (enough to cover the nuts)
- 120ml filtered water
- 1 probiotic capsule
- 7 g nutrional yeast flakes ( 2 Tbsp)
- 2g sea salt ( ¾ tsp )
Soak pinenuts and cashew in filtered water for a minimum of 2 to 4 hours then drain, over night is fine. Ideally start the soak, first thing in the morning or last thing at night – so that you can add the probiotic either when you get home from work or when you get up.
Place in your high speed bender and add 120ml of filtered water. Blend until smooth. Add the contents of 1 probiotic powder capsule, blend quickly¹ and put into a clean bowl and cover with muslin, jay cloth or clean tea towel (allowing it to breath). Let your mixture sit overnight (or throughout the day) to ferment.
Return the mixture to the blender and add the nutritional yeast flakes and sea salt. Blend until smooth.
Spread the mixture thinly onto non-stick sheets and put in the dehydrator. Given that dehydrators all have different temperature ranges and settings consult the instruction manual of your model. The drying stage may take four to 12 hours depending on the thickness of the layer, temperature that you choose and your particular dehydrator (it may take longer than this, if you’re trying to keep it “Raw”).
When it is completely dehydrated the sheets should snap and crumble. At this stage you can break the sheet into pieces for easier storage in an air-tight container. At this point it can also be pulse to a crumb for use in the same way you’d use a dried parmesan, or snap off a shard to garnish a dish if you want to be more “cheffy”.
¹High speed mixers heat their contents and potentially kill your friendly bacteria.
If you want to read why it’s so hard to give up cheese click here