I hope you are having a good weekend. I have my driving test coming up in just over a month so I am busy practising as much as I can, either in my car or dry driving on YouTube. I must confess that I fell into a bit of a driving mock test video sinkhole in the past few days…so forgive me but today’s recipe is an old staple of mine – vegan parmesan – that I think deserves a dedicated share. This vegan parmesan is such a prized condiment in my kitchen that I refer to it as golden dust. It’s easy to make, affordable and nut-free for those of you who don’t get on with nuts.
This vegan parmesan has the power to transform even the most boring pasta, salad, plate of greens or savoury toasties into something delicious. To be completely honest with you, I often don’t even make it to the grinding stage, but eat it in clusters straight from the jar – I find the flavour quite addictive. This vegan parmesan is easy and quick to make, it only requires a few staples and a few minutes of prep but the results surpass the effort that goes into it, I tell you. I hope you’ll try it and love it as much as we do.
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
SUNFLOWER SEEDS: hulled sunflower seeds are the key ingredient of this nut-free vegan parmesan seasoning. They are just as healthy yet less allergenic than nuts and much cheaper too. You don’t need to pre-roast them before using in this recipe.
MAPLE SYRUP: I use just a touch of maple syrup – any liquid sweetener will work just as well – as I like how it contrasts with salty miso. It amps up the flavour of humble sunflower seeds nicely.
OLIVE OIL: A small amount of oil gives these savoury sunflower seeds a better texture so I don’t recommend you skip it. I used olive oil but any similar oil will do as long as its flavour doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. If you must skip it, I would recommend binding the mixture with some ground flax seeds activated in a little water (1 tbsp ground flax to 1 tbsp water).
ITALIAN HERBS: A small amount of dry mixed herbs adds some lovely herbaceous undertones to this vegan parmesan seasoning.
MISO: White miso paste, which is milder than red miso paste, is what I used to add umami and savouriness to this vegan parmesan seasoning. It is widely available these days so you should have no trouble finding it. If you need this seasoning to be gluten-free, look for miso that is based on chickpeas, brown rice, millet etc., rather than wheat.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Nutritional yeast, which is a staple vegan seasoning made out of inactive yeast, gives this vegan parmesan cheese-like flavour so I don’t recommend you skip it.
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl. I like to use a flexible spatula to rub the wet ingredients into the seeds to ensure that they are evenly coated.
Spread the mixture on a paper lined baking tray or a baking silicone mat in a thin, even layer – it’s better if the middle is thinner than the edges as it takes longer to dry out. Tidy up the edges as if they remain scraggly, they will end up burnt. Bake until dry and only a little darker, you don’t want it burnt. Allow to cool completely.
These little golden cheesy clusters are delicious to eat straight out of the jar… so if you cannot be trusted, better grind them all. I like to keep some seeds whole (in a separate jar) for texture but I always end up eating them all…tbh
Crush some in your hands and pulverise some in a grinder or using pestle and mortar. I like to keep some seeds whole for some textural variety.
- 32 g / 2 tbsp white (shiro) miso paste
- 15 ml / 1 tbsp olive oil
- 7 ml / 1½ tsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp Italian dry herbs
- 10 g / ¼ cup nutritional yeast (I use Engevita)
- 120 g / 1 cup hulled sunflower seeds
- Preheat the oven to 100° C / 210° F (or 20° C / 70° F less with the fan on). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Combine miso paste, olive oil, maple syrup, herbs and nutritional yeast in a medium size bowl. Mix well.
- Add sunflower seeds and rub them into the miso mixture until they are all evenly coated.
- Spread the mixture on the prepared baking tray in a thin layer (make sure the centre is thin or thinner than the edges), tidy up the edges as scraggly edges will burn easier.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the mixture has dried out and became a little darker but not burned. Cool completely.
- Blitz some of the mixture in a coffee / spice grinder or crush in a pestle and mortar and leave some seeds whole for varied texture. Store in an air-tight container for 2-3 weeks.
*MISO: If wanting to keep this dish gluten-free, make sure to use a gluten-free miso paste – made with chickpeas, rice, millet, amaranth or quinoa instead of wheat, barley or rye.