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Oct 20, 2009 12:18 PM

vegan substitute for Parmigiano? White miso?

So Parmigiano is full of salty, umami goodness, and why would we live without it? My poor, benighted vegan friend has chosen to do so. Has anyone ever tried using a small amount of white miso-- another umami bomb-- as a substitute for parmigiano, especially for the rind in soups, or in vegetable based-pasta sauces?

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  1. I might try nutritional yeast + salt before I would use miso. Or Bragg's, that other favorite of vegans.

    Also, I very often make a vegetarian pasta and cauliflower recipe that uses toasted breadcrumbs in place of parmesan. This is an Italian peasant approach for dealing with not being able to afford the cheese. Got the idea from Faith Willinger.

    1 Reply
    1. re: the_MU

      I concur with the nutritional yeast suggestion. To make it more like parmesan, mix equal parts of nutritional yeast wih ground almonds.
      In the Flexitarion Diet, the author lists various vegetarian ingrediens that add umami including beets, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, corn, carrots, balsamic vinegar, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, and walnuts.
      Also, try tamari; I much prefer it to regular soy sauce

    2. I third the vote for yeast

      1. Marmite has a similar taste to parmigiano, as well.

        1. Daiya makes a pretty good tasting Parmesan "cheese". Very meltable and is in fact the cheese that ZPizza uses for its vegan pizzas. Whole Foods carries both the Parmesan and Cheddar versions of Daiya's "cheese".

          1 Reply
          1. re: choctastic

            I think their Italian blend is supposed to be more like mozzarella cheese, or maybe mozzarella with a little Parmesan. I like the melty-ness of it, and the fact that it's not soy based and doesn't have too much weird stuff in it. But most of the time, it still has a bit too much of that "fake cheese" taste. It seems to work better in some things than others. The best fake cheeses I've had have mostly been non-melty nut-based ones. The Play Food one (sadly no longer available, I think) was amazing for grilled cheese; it was made from raw cashews (soaked for a while) and some other spices. Nothing weird or synthetic, yet the taste and texture were really convincing, though it certainly wouldn't work for many applications.

            There are some third party Parmesan substitutes which are vegan (and a few which aren't); to me, they aren't worth it most of the time - even in small quantities, they have a little too much of the fake cheese taste, and the texture is off. I'd follow the suggestion to use nutritional yeast, sea salt and ground almonds - it won't replicate the taste exactly, but it will push some of the same buttons.