Not Your Nonna’s Parmesan

If there was one pantry staple that I would insist on any vegan having on hand at all times, it would have to be nutritional yeast. An ingredient that has been tagged as unique to the vegan community and found little place else, it has a flavor unlike anything else, and kick-ass nutritional facts to boot. Capable of adding in a touch of “cheesy” flavor to any number of dishes, its sheer versatility makes it indispensable for to the dairy-free home cook. I have to admit though, nutritional yeast does have a very strong and somewhat unusual taste that some may have trouble getting used to, especially for those still yearning for the flavor of actual cheese. That’s why Parma is so ingenious- Using a mixture of nooch, walnuts, and sea salt, the sum of this deceptively simple concoction is truly greater than its parts, and provides a far more palatable parmesan-esque topping than the deactivated yeast flakes alone.

Found in two flavors, original and spicy, you can’t really go wrong with whichever one you choose. Tasting distinctly of the “cheesy” flavor synonymous with nutritional yeast, but slightly nutty and robust from the walnuts, the Original is sure to work its way into every dish you cook. Sauces, gravies, salads, anything, it always adds a nice flavor to the mix. Easily used in any recipe that calls for plain nutritional yeast, it just seems to add an extra something special. Likewise, the Chipotle Cayenne is sure to please anyone who has a love for the spicier things in life, although it is certainly mild enough to be appealing to those with less adventurous tastes. While you wouldn’t be able to fool a cheese-enthusiast with this imitator, it’s still delicious in its own right, possessing its own entirely unique flavor.

For a lazy, last-minute meal, a sprinkle of this stuff can do wonders over plain old pasta, baked potatoes, veggies, or pretty much anything savory you can think of. There are even plenty of recipes on the official website in case you’re not sure where to start.

Naturally, I couldn’t leave well enough alone or follow a recipe already out there, so I decided to play around with my Parma a bit and make some cheesy straws.

Excellent for serving alongside a selection of dips at a party or just late-night snacking, these crunchy straws are a whole lot of fun to eat. Feel free to add in whatever herbs you like, or any variety of spices you have on hand. They’re incredibly versatile and can suit all tastes and occasions with just a few small tweaks.

Cheesy Straws

1/4 Cup Margarine
1/2 Cup Chipotle Cayenne Parma
1/2 Cup Garbanzo Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Sweet Paprika
3 Tablespoons Plain Soymilk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.

In your stand mixer, beat the margarine briefly by itself, just to soften it a bit. Add in the Parma and cream thoroughly, until completely smooth. Sift in the garbanzo flour, salt, and paprika all together, and mix again. Drizzle in the soymilk 1 tablespoon at a time while the mixer is running on its slowest speed, until it comes together into a very soft dough, almost like cookie batter. Transfer this into a piping bag with a star tip, and pipe out 3-inch long lines onto your prepared sheets. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can also use two spoons to make mounds, much like you would for drop cookies.

Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the straws cool completely on wire racks, and store in an airtight container.

Printable Recipe


25 thoughts on “Not Your Nonna’s Parmesan

  1. I think I may have to experiment with this. I have some at home and I use it on pasta and such.. it works pretty well. I’ve been contemplating making vegan garlic rolls recently though and I think these may work out pretty well. I’ll have to try this and nutritional yeast to see which works better.

    Nice post hannah

  2. hooray! glad you love the parma! we love it, too (although we make our own @ home using our food processor – with walnuts, sea salt & nooch)! thanks for the recipe for the cheesy straws – they look sooooooooo goooooood!!

  3. Oh Yum! BTW, we love nutritional yeast on our popcorn also! Even Grumpy likes it. For some reason though, he calls it “flux”. When I make us popcorn he say’s “make sure you put some of that “flux” on it. Go figure! But it is great (not to mention a great source of B vitamin!)

  4. Awesome idea! I’ll have to make these, especially because they resemble these Indian snacks I found at Whole Foods recently. It will be fun to play around with the seasonings & add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, etc. Thank you for the recipe, Hannah.

  5. Ooo! Fun. Will have to make these, or some variation. I have the original flavor – I love it, and it has really gone a long way. I’ve had it for almost a year.

  6. those look so great!! i have been wanting to try making my own “parma” type topping at home, but maybe i will give this brand a try first…i might need something to compare to. thanks for the review!!

  7. I had no idea that Parma was made with only nooch, walnuts, and sea salt. No wonder it’s delicious! I am definitely a nutritional yeast lover, so thanks for the heads-up. That whirly pasta wheels look so good, too. I haven’t had those since I was little!

  8. These sounds so good! I’ll have to find some of that Parma product – I don’t think I’ve seen it in my local store before.

  9. It is delicious and I adore it. I will probably go home and have some on pasta with earth balance. I love you and your extreme generosity (which I am always happy to receive and wish I could reciprocate more!)

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