This is not a new idea. In fact, this is a very common addition to pasta in Italy. It’s called Pangritata, Poor Man’s Parmesan and is used as a cheap substitute to expensive parmesan cheese. Parmesan cheese, as you should know is A) definitely not vegan and B) not vegetarian either.
Which is fine because you can make this instead. And you won’t even miss the cheese. Promise.
I use the tasty crunchy Pangritata all the time on pasta, with a modern, vegan addition of nutritional yeast (sometimes known as nooch in ‘vegan’). Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, sold in flakes, it has a cheesy, slightly nutty flavour and is high in B12, folic acid, selenium & zinc. It’s brilliant for adding a cheesy flavour to dishes. And with the addition of crunchy breadcrumbs, herbs, a little salt & maybe some chilli powder, it becomes a perfectly delicious crunchy topping for all kinds of pasta, as well as sprinkled over soups.
The best breadcrumbs to use for this are the fluffy Japanese Panko breadcrumbs. Actually, unless I can be bothered to make my own (which is rare), Panko breadcrumbs are my go-to for any kind of dish that calls for them.
This recipe can be changed around to suit your tastes. The original is simply thyme, breadcrumbs, and salt, lightly fried in some oil. Add in other herbs, or some chilli powder.
Mix it up. Figure out what you like.
I like to make this in big batches and keep it in an airtight container, ready for immediate sprinkeladge.
- 1 cup panko breadcrunbs
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme or other herbs (oregano works well)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mild (or not so mild) chilli powder (optional)
- 1 Tbs nutritional yeast.
- Put all the ingredients into a small frying pan except for the nutritional yeast
- Gently fry until golden.
- Add the nutritional yeast & taste to see if you want more salt.
- Add to pasta or soups.
- Store in an airtight container until ready to sprinkle!