Parmesan cheese is a dry Italian cheese, rich in taste, and tastes great on pasta and salads. For some vegetarians, especially for those who have just converted to a vegetarian diet, it may be a surprise that Parmesan cheese is not suitable for you – even if you include dairy in your diet. Why you may wonder, since some cheeses are perfectly fine to eat if dairy is a part of your diet. I will explain you why, and then give you a recipe which can substitute parmesan cheese in many dishes.
In the curdling process of the cheese making (when separating curds and whey), the process require addition of rennet. Rennet contains the enzyme chymosin, and when from animal origin this enzyme is extracted from the stomach of slaughtered calves. Parmesan is supposed to be produced according to traditional methods to be real Parmesan, and these methods always include rennet from animal origin.
There are other to ways produce rennet though. Most cheeses are now manufactured using rennet from either fungal/bacterial sources or genetically modified micro-organisms. Read the label of the cheese, if it is produced with rennet derived from animals – stay away.
Parmesan is tasty though, and you may want to find a substitute to spread over pasta, pizza and salads. Nutritional yeast is a great ingredient to get that “cheesy” taste!
1 cup pine nuts
3 tbs. hamp seeds
2 tbs. nutritional yeast
½ tsp. salt
Roast the pine nuts in a pan on medium heat till golden brown, then do the same with the hamp seeds (don´t roast them together since the sice of them are different). You do not need to include the hamp seeds for a tasty sprinkle, but I like the extra nutty taste. Add all ingredients in a blender, and use the pulse function several times. Take of the mug and shake it well in between the pulses. Blend until fine and crumbly. Do not over blend, then it will become oily.
On the road:
If you have a blender or a hand blender available, you can make this cheesy spread. Make sure to bring a bag of nutritional yeast (check out my foodie packing list), and use the kind of nut or seeds that is available in your local market.
The cheesy sprinkle can be stored in a jar for at least two months. I prefer to keep mine refrigerated when possible.
You can also use sesame seeds, cashews and walnuts as a base instead of pine nuts, or a combination of all.
Do you have any favorite vegan substitute for cheese products?
I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.