Macadamia Nut “Parmesan Cheese” (Paleo and Vegan)


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Ever wonder if there is a good, dairy-free substitute for fluffy, rich Parmesan cheese for salads? I have always wondered myself. Well, sometimes you come across a gem of an idea. I recently did myself in a Bon Appétit magazine that answered the above question. They mentioned a restaurant that used a micrograter to make a fluffy cheese-like topping for one of their salads with nuts. I knew I had to try it! With roasted and salted macadamia nuts, and my micrograter in hand, I grated some right over a green salad, that had been tossed with low-mercury tuna, avocado, and steamed beets.


It was delicious! Using the micrograter really does give you a cheese-like texture, and the richness of the nuts mimics what you get with cheese too. Whether you eat cheese or not, this is a delicious idea.

(I am sure that you can use any micrograter. I own this Microplane Zester/Grater and love it, by the way.)

I am really curious as to what other nuts would be like. Making a green salad with apple slices and shredded chicken and then using hazelnuts to grate over the whole thing, is another idea I had. Or what about other ways to use this type of “cheese”?

I have to say that the macadamia nuts are pretty delicious this way! I got mine at Trader Jo’s, where they are a good price. However, you really only need one large nut per smallish salad, so it’s not an expensive option when you consider how little you need per serving.

Macadamia Nut "Parmesan Cheese" (Paleo and Vegan)
Recipe type: Salad Topping
Prep time:
Total time:
Use nuts to make a delicious "cheese" for a salad!
  • Macadamia Nuts
  1. Using a micrograter, grate the macadamia nuts directly over individual servings of salad that have been tossed already with salad dressing. Serve immediately.


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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    I bought one of those graters where you put the cheese (carrot, now macadamia nuts…) inside and turn it with the handle. I’ve felt it’s a bit useless because I was always just using my regular grater, but this would be the perfect application!

  2. Anne Marie says

    Great idea. Thanks. I’d been using a mixture of brewers yeast and sesame seeds (toasted) ground. Now something new to try. Can’t wait.

  3. says

    What a clever idea! I wonder how we can work with the flavors to give that sharp, cheesy tang. Maybe pre-soak the nuts in water with a bit of ACV? I am definitely trying this!

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