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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Sunday
Feb282010

Yeast-Free Soy-Free Vegan "Parmesan Cheese" (gluten free, ACD, vegan, raw)

Lazy Sunday afternoons are made for pizza.  And today, I wanted pizza.  Unfortunately, like many of you, I don't really have the option of calling for delivery.  Hrmph.

Life without gluten, tomato, and  dairy doesn't leave a lot of options for restaurant pizza.  There are a few places in Minneapolis to get vegan, gluten free pizzas, but their crusts have ingredients that don't work for me, and their cheese is that creepy vegan processed fake cheese that I also cannot eat and wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole even if I could.  I keep hoping that I'll find a restaurant somewhere that has just the right crust, will make my pizza cheese free, and will offer a dairy-free, nut-free pesto sauce or garlic-olive oil sauce.  It will happen.  I know this place exists somewhere.

But for now, it seems that pizza as I knew it is a thing of the past.  

To be honest, I haven't done much with pizzas in my own kitchen because I get overwhelmed by making crusts.  My favorite pizza crusts are the Neopolitan-style thin cracker crusts, and recreating that in a gluten-free form is tricky.  I don't like using guar and I avoid xanthan, and that makes it hard to create thin - and most importantly, stable - crusts.  Yeah, I've made pizzas on chickpea crepes and other flatbreads, but it just ins't the same.  I could make a pizza with a thicker crust, but I don't really like thick doughy crusts, because it is just too much dough.  Pizza, for me, is about the toppings, not loads of crust.  Writing that sentence, I realize that I feel  the opposite way about pies - I could eat pie crust all damn day, often picking off all the crust from any leftover slices and ignoring the filling.  Hmn. I wonder why this difference exists.

Anyway, since a proper Neopolitan-style crust seems like a far off dream, I've been thinking of other ways to fulfill my pizza craving that won't compare to anything I used to know.  I want to create a new pizza tradition for myself.  So, I've been mulling over an idea for skillet pizza, sort of a deep dish-style pizza casserole with a grain-free grated parsnip crust and all sorts of tasty toppings.   Having been a very adventurous cook and baker this weekend already, and feeling pretty confident, I decided to see how this idea would all work out.  I've been on a roll this weekend, seriously - my good friend B just had to go gluten free, dairy free, and egg free, and she paid me to bake her a ton of tasty baked goods.  A batch of muffins, flatbread, waffles, and amazing cookies later, I decided to bake myself cookies, make soup, and try out a recipe for Beet Loaf.  I'm also brewing my first batch of water kefir.

My kitchen has been crazy. 

On the heels of this madness, I decided to embark on the pizza project, creating a crisp and flavorful crust with parsnip, whipping up a tasty tomato-free sauce, browning ground turkey with Italian seasonings, and gathering other toppings like spinach, onion, and vinegar-free kalamata olives (thank you, Trader Joe's, for these amazing olives).  Lacking something cheesy, I whipped up a variation on my favorite recipe for vegan "parmesan" cheese.  Raw cashews, a little salt, a little ground mustard, and today, a sprinkling of fennel seeds.  Grind it all together, and hooray, you have an amazing sprinkle that is a whole lot like parmesan.  The fennel added a burst of amazing fennel flavor.  Super easy, and unlike many vegan "cheeses", totally free of nutritional yeast.  

Here are photos of my pizza in progress...

Tomato-free sauce and all my toppings!

LOTS of fake cheese. Lots.

A little more sauce so it doesn't dry out...

Fresh from my broiler, hot and crisp.

I love it when the cheese gets brown and kind of burnt.

In the end, I was totally thrilled with how this skillet pizza turned out - it was amazing!  I cut out a slice, dug in with my knife and fork, and was overwhelmed with amazing fresh flavor.  It had a stellar balance of sweet and salty and spice, with good texture. I was hoping to include a pizza of some kind in my cookbook-in-progress, and I think this pizza will be it. Expect further refinements and the final version to be included in my cookbook!  After some suggestions from readers, friends, and my own reassessment, I've decided to expand on the idea of doing just vegetables for the cookbook and make it a more inclusive, featuring new recipes from breakfast through dessert.  More work?  Yes, you bet.  But it will be a better cookbook?  Absolutely! So, I'm working very hard. I don't know when it will be ready, and I don't know how I'm publishing it. I'm not going to make date estimates anymore because they just keep getting pushed back, and I am looking over many options from E-books to self-publishing to submitting to publishers.   It will be done when it is done, and that's that!  Hopefully this will be sooner than later, for everyone's benefit. :)

In the meantime, I thought I'd share this quick little recipe for the "parmesan".  Choose to add the fennel seeds or not, but seriously, it adds an amazing punch that you won't want to miss!  

I can't wait to eat these leftovers tomorrow for lunch.  Or tonight for dinner. Or both.  

 

Yeast-Free Vegan "Parmesan Cheese"

Unlike many vegan "cheeses" this does not use nutritional yeast, so it is acceptable for those of us who are yeast sensitive.  If you cannot eat cashews, try using raw almonds, or raw seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, or hemp.  It will work just as well!  I've made "cheese" sprinkle from all of them with success.  This is for a small batch, and works best with a coffee grinder or VERY small chopper/processor appliance.  If you only have a large processor or blender, or want a larger batch, double or triple the batch until it is large enough to work with your appliance and needs!

yield about 1/3 cup

active time <5 minutes

total time <5 minutes

1/3 cup raw cashews (or raw almond, sunflower, pumpkin, or hemp seed)

1/4 tsp ground dry mustard

1/4 tsp salt

optional: 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

Place all ingredients in a coffee grinder or very small food processor/chopper.  Pulse a few times, then process until finely ground.  Use as desired on pizza, pasta, grain dishes, or vegetables.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Reader Comments (18)

Don't get me started on vegan "cheese." That stuff is nasty and should be banned. I remember when I was about nine, I went to a classmate's birthday party and they had pizza with vegan cheese. It was awful (this was in, like, 1986) and it hasn't come very far since then. I shudder to think what it's made of.

Give me real cheese or nothing at all!

This nut-based cheese "sprinkle" sounds like a really great touch for salads too. I bet it would jazz up my usual lunchtime salad nicely.

February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Wow...I'm impressed! =)

February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharissa Greer

Yum, can't wait to try it! I am so curious about your Tomato-Free sauce! Any hints or do we need to wait for the amazing cookbook your are working on? Seriously can't wait for that!!! :)

Oh, my god. Parsnip pizza crust? My head just exploded.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Gluten free cheeses and the versions of G-free pizza that I have tried so far left my thinking I am better off with the memories. But your version looks so appetizing (like EVERYTHING you make ), sure makes me think I will be willing to give it a try , I was SO happy to get this topping recipe sure looks very good to me, also very happy here that you are welling to take the extra time that is needed to expand your cook book . Good things are always worth waiting for . I so enjoy all that you write and share so often it is such a bright spot in my day, you have no idea . I can only imagine how delighted "B" is today with the special goodies that you created for her over the week end. Your use of your time and energy inspire me to try harder each day . Have a great rest of your week ~ bye :)

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

ARGH !!! I meant to write Vegan cheeses left a lot to be desired , I promise to use the" Preveiw Post" button from now on . How embarrassing for me . BYE !

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I could be wrong, but i understood that nutritional yeast was ok for a candida diet..

-Sea

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersea

Your pizza looks really good! I made the parmesan cheese tonight and sprinkled it on my spaghetti. YUMMY!! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCassandra

Just had to add - I made a vegan pizza for my brother while he was staying at my house. He's a total meat and cheese lover. I added this parmesan cheese on top and he didn't even notice it wasn't real. I told him afterwards and he made gagging noises but I know he liked it. ;)

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCassandra

Must be my Ld tired brain
HOW do you make crust??
I,ve ben reading and reading and cant find that recipe

hugs
from a Danish woman

June 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrecipe crust?

I LOVE THIS! I have a pizza recipe that I'm happy with, but alas, it's cheesless. I cannot wait to try this! Cheese really does make all the difference on pizza!

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoi

Can you share the recipe for the actual pizza as well?

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterB

Hi all, thanks for the great comments! Eventually I would like to share the recipe for the whole pizza and the crust, but I haven't made it again yet, and it needs some tweaks. Hopefully sooner than later. :)

August 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

So excited to see this blog! Though I am completely vegan, it does seem that you have some helpful tips to offer for the rest of my family. We all have a mixed bag of food allergies and sensitivities, and I have candida as well. Love this cheese recipe!
For those who think all vegan cheese is disgusting, until recently I would have agreed. But now there is Daiya brand cheese, and it is really very good. Also Dr. Kow cheeses are good as well, though more for eating with crackers than for topping foods or melting.

September 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

If you live in Minneapolis (I do too) you should check out Galactic Pizza. They have tomato free sauces and TONS of vegan subs. No vegan cheese but you could do your own on top! Either that or Pizza Luce has a different vegan cheese that's essential cashews. It's AMAZING!

September 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I made this with roasted sunflower seeds and was really disappointed. It tasted like ground up sunflower seeds and nothing else. We cant do nuts in our household. :(

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterashley

Thank you ssooo much for this! This is the only ONLY vegan parm recipe I found that didn't require nutritional yeast! I didn't have any on hand and they didn't have any casein free parm at the grocery store. But this recipe worked out great and was super delicious!

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

Just wanted to say thanks for the parmesan cheese recipe! For health reasons, I have recently gone dairy-free, and there are just certain things that seem really hard to substitute (like cheese). But I tried your recipe tonight with roasted sunflower seeds (didn't have raw), and it worked great. I agree with you that fennel seeds are a great addition - seems to add some more umami taste. I just made a large batch to keep in my fridge. Thank you for sharing!

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAna
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo