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.
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.