• Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Many folks tell me that when adopting a plant-based lifestyle, their Achilles’ heel is Parmesan cheese. Nutty, salty, and with a subtle umami flavor, Parmesan has the ability to elevate just about any dish. But this walnut Parmesan, made with shaved nuts tossed with nutritional yeast flakes, is a satisfying alternative that mimics the cheese’s seductive flavor and texture.

You will need a razor-sharp truffle shaver or a Microplane to shave the nuts—watch your fingers—and be sure the walnuts are frozen solid, which will make them easier to work with. The walnut Parmesan’s salty, cheesy flavor adds another dimension to many of our pasta dishes and risottos.

  • 1/2 cup raw walnut halves, frozen

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes (see note)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Using a truffle shaver, thinly shave the walnuts and put in a bowl. (Alternatively, use a Microplane to coarsely grate the nuts.) You should have about 1 cup.

2. Coat with cooking spray and toss with the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, and pepper. The Parmesan keeps covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Note: Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Nutritional yeast may not sound like the most appetizing ingredient, but it has a cheesy, nutty, savory quality that gives any dish extra oomph. Just a tablespoon or two adds a creamy, salty richness to dips, soups, and sauces. Look for nutritional yeast flakes in the supplement section of the market or health food store. Be sure to select flakes instead of granules, which will deliver a bit of texture to whatever you add them to.

Excerpted from Crossroads by Tal Ronnen, with Scot Jones. (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2015. Photographs by Lisa Romerein.