Review & Giveaway: Parmela Vegan Parmesan!

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Being half Italian, I’m pretty picky when it comes to things that are meant to mimic cheese.  Very few commercial vegan cheeses taste “right” to me, which is why I tend to either make my own cheese sauce or use nutritional yeast depending on the dish.  That said, I’m still willing to try vegan cheese products provided they’re not full of processed oddness.

Enter Parmela.  Billed as a “Parmesan cheese replacer,” Parmela is made up of raw almonds, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, fermented soybeans, soy sauce and some lactic acid derived from sugar beets.  The nuts create a crumbly base reminiscent of traditional parm, while the rest come together to create an authentic taste and texture.  In fact, of all the vegan Parmesan products I’ve tried, I found Parmela to be by far the most authentic in taste, texture and smell.  Aside from the dark color imparted by the nutritional yeast, I’d say it’s exactly like its scary dairy counterpart–without the “scary.”

parmela vegan parm

Parmela has a lot going for it, not the least of which is the cute jar.  It comes wrapped in a neat square of heavy paper with a simple logo and attractive script, which can then be removed to reveal a spherical glass shaker that would look right at home on any restaurant table.  Inside, of course, is where the magic happens.  If any of you were Parmesan fans in your pre-vegan days, the smell is probably the first thing that would strike you about Parmela.  Even my 100% Italian mom agreed that it’s just as authentic as the taste!  Sharp and “cheesy” with only 13 calories per teaspoon and no cholesterol–I’d say that’s pretty amazing.

UPDATE Oct. 2012!  Parmela now comes in an equally cute tub.  The new version has to be stored in the refrigerator, but it’s much easier to dispense and tastes just as delicious as the original.  Parmela is gluten-free and now clearly states its non-GMO status right on the package  Spoon it out, sprinkle it on…enjoy!

parmela vegan parmesan

photo courtesy of Parmela

So what is Parmela good on, besides the traditional pasta with tomato sauce?  I’d say…everything you’d put regular parm on!  So far I’ve used it on lasanga, baked potatoes, shepherd’s pie and this pizza:

heart healthy vegan pizza with oats cauliflower and carrot sauce
(Incidentally, this is another Heart Healthy Pizza with Italian tomato sauce and an oats/cauliflower/carrot topping sauce!)

The only problem I had with Parmela wasn’t with the product itself, but with the jar lid.  It doesn’t seem to fit quite tightly enough, so whenever I had to take it off to measure Parmesan into a recipe, I wound up dumping bits of it everywhere.  And since Parmela clumps just like regular parm, the shaker doesn’t work terribly well.  I’ve pretty much been sticking to the open side meant for pouring.  In light of how delicious this stuff is, though, it’s not enough to put me off the product.  Parmela gets two thumbs up from this blogger!

Want to jazz up your next recipe with some Parmela?  Enter to win your very own jar!
All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what you’d do with Parmela if you won some.
Sprinkle it on pizza?  Mix it into your next lasagna?
Whatever strikes your fancy, let me know by Friday, May 18th for your chance to win!
Giveaway is now closed.  Good luck to everyone who entered!


About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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  1. Lisa  May 14, 2012

    Since becoming vegan i have not been able to perfect my “cheesy” potato recipe and this might just do the trick. I am thankful for the opportunity to win so ecited .

  2. JennIfer Larsen  May 14, 2012

    I would love to sprinkle it on my salads! I’m always looking for new tasty options for my salads, it may sound boring but if you try it I’m sure youll understand.

    • Sam  May 15, 2012

      Salad is far from boring. In fact, I may sprinkle a bit on my salad today. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Carolyn  May 14, 2012

    OH MAN! I’m psyched! This looks amazing! This would be the perfect finish to my farro, tomato, basil & cannellini dish. It would give an everyday tofu scramble a great kick, too! Thanks for reviewing for us.

  4. Tofu Mom (Marti)  May 14, 2012

    I would LOVE to try this on pizza – or in pesto – We go thru tons of pesto every year, usually just made without any parmesan sub. It’d be nice to add this…

    • Sam  May 15, 2012

      Ooh, I didn’t think of adding it to pesto! I’ll have to try that. 🙂

  5. Kat  May 15, 2012

    That is the worst thing about adopting a plant based lifestyle-the lack of a good cheese. There are substitutes but no good sustitutes. I am excited to hear about one that may actually work. I have been missing everything from Mac & Cheese to pizza. This cheese would be perfect for Ribolitta because parm cheese is the basic building block for an otherwise healthy soup.

    • Sam  May 15, 2012

      Kat, I highly recommend Daiya cheese if you’re missing dairy cheese. 🙂 It’s very authentic and makes a great transition food. Various vegan cookbooks like the Happy Herbivore Cookbook and Vegan Brunch have great cheese sauces, and there’s a fabulous nacho cheese sauce in The 30-Minute Vegan. If you’re missing pizza, check out Mark Sutton’s Heart Healthy Pizza Cookbook–it’s beyond amazing!

      Mac & cheese is a “thing” in the vegan community, or at least it used to be, so you should be able to find a recipe that’s to your taste. My personal favorite is the Mac & Chard in 1,000 Vegan Recipes, but there are BUNCHES of others. 🙂

  6. Aimee Douglass  May 15, 2012

    In my pre-vegan days, one of my go-to meals when I didn’t feel like cooking was some hot pasta topped with a little olive oil, italian herbs, garlic, and lots of parmesan cheese. I think this would be perfect for that.

  7. Jordan D  May 15, 2012

    I would probably add Parmela to homemade basil pesto to substitute regular cheese to make it vegan-friendly. I’d love to try this!

  8. Melissa  May 15, 2012

    I think I would use it mostly on pasta.

  9. Ashley  May 16, 2012

    I would try it on steamed broccoli! YUM! Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Small Footprints  May 17, 2012

    OMGoodness … what wouldn’t I do with it? 🙂 I’d sprinkle it on salads, veggie sandwiches, over scrambled tofu, on the usual suspects (pizza, pasta, lasagna), and on top of grilled veggies (eggplant, zucchini, asparagus). I’d also sprinkle it on soups and toasted rustic bread. It would be great sprinkled on quinoa, rice or millet … as a Italian-style side dish or add some mushrooms for a main course. I think it would also be wonderful sprinkled on steamed Brussel sprouts or green beans. Thanks for this opportunity!
    reducefootprints at gmail dot com

  11. LaToya  May 17, 2012

    I would add Parmela to spaghetti and beanballs for my 6 year old daughter (who is a cheese fanatic). I am trying to wean her off, and this would be perfect! 🙂

  12. Jenna Z  May 18, 2012

    I would love to try this in a spinach pesto!