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Umami Crumble Recipe

Yesterday I was craving parmesan and wondered if it was possible to make something similar without animal products.  Cheese tastes so good because it has such as strong umami flavour.  It is just a block of delicious savouriness!  But thinking about it logically, it is basically just fat and salt with some bacteria to give it that umami boost. The question is how you can achieve a similar combination using other ingredients.

I came across this recipe for Almond Parmesan and it sounded like it was worth a try, but I wasn’t convinced that almonds who have the required fatiness to really give cheese a run for its money.  So I made my own version using pine nuts! Yes, pine nuts are frighteningly expensive, but they really do taste amazing. 

The pine nuts provide the fat, the salt provides the erm… salt, and the garlic powder and nutritional yeast provide the umami flavour.  The breadcrumbs are really just there to help stick it all together.  It is a tongue tickling combination!

This was originally a recipe for vegan parmesan, but since Tom doesn’t like “fake” foods and this recipe has a magic all of its own, we renamed it umami crumble.


  • 1 cup pinenuts (either with skins or without)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined salt (or smoked salt will give that smoky flavour you may like)


Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until your desired consistency.
Separate with hands.  Wow, that was easy!

You can sprinkle this on pasta, tomato soup or anything really! Have fun.

If you replace pinenuts with almonds you will get a slightly drier texture, which resembles and feels more like grated parmesan.  You can also use other nuts such as cashews.  I prefer it with pinenuts though.


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