Nutritional yeast really IS nutritious and it really IS yeast. But why is it interesting to us in plant-based cooking and why couldn’t it have a cool, exotic name like quinoa or romanesco cauliflower? It actually has been nicknamed, “nooch,” which is kind of cute. This golden yellow, mildly cheesy/nutty tasting powder (or flake) is a staple in the veteran vegan pantry. But to the vegan virgin, it’s definitely alittle strange and unfamiliar. The name doesn’t inspire one to build recipes around it but, alas, it gives many vegan recipes the boost of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium and that we need and the taste of cheese that we love. If you’ve seen nutritional yeast called for in recipes, you know it is essential to achieve that certain taste to make your recipe successful.
The importance of nutritional yeast for vegans is that it is a complete protein, low in fat and sodium, dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free. Many brands are often fortified with vitamin B-12 but check the label to be certain. Nutritional yeast has no leavening properties because it’s been deactivated so it cannot and should not be used for the same purpose as Brewer’s yeast. It comes in both powder form and flake form and it’s found predominantly in natural food supermarkets. You can usually find it in bulk barrels or packaged by companies like Bob’s Red Mill and Red Star.
Nutritional yeast can be used as a condiment to sprinkle on foods that need a cheesy kick, such as popcorn, mashed or baked potatoes or pasta. For convenience, there are flavored, sprinkle and serve products, as well, in some markets. I try to sneak some into any recipe that I can for it’s nutritional value.
Cooking with it can fill the void for savory flavor that the lack of cheese leaves. I’ve collected a few recipes that use nutritional yeast that I’d like to share with you….
Nutritional Yeast Recipes:
Savory Vegan Lasagna (appearing previously on Vegan American Princess)
adapted from Chef AJ & Julieanna Hever
2 boxes no-boil lasagna noodles
6 cups marinara sauce
2 cans great northern beans or cannelloni beans (drained and rinsed)
2 oz. fresh basil leaves (no stems)
1 cup hemp seeds (or raw cashews)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup miso paste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 lemon juice
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 lbs. frozen spinach (thawed drained and squeezed)
2 lbs. mushrooms (sliced)
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce (low sodium)
1 lg. onion, finely diced
1) In a food processor, add the beans, basil, hemp seeds, 3 cloves of garlic, miso paste, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Puree until smooth.
2) Add the spinach and puree again. Set aside.
3) In a large saute pan, saute the onions in 2 tbs of water until translucent, about 8 minutes, adding more water when needed.
4) In the saute pan, add 1 clove of garlic, the mushrooms, and the tamari (soy) sauce and saute until golden brown. Cook until mushrooms look glazed and no liquid is left in the pan.
5) Pour 3 cups of marinara sauce into 9 x 13 lasagna pan.
6) Place 1 layer of no-boil lasagna noodles on top of sauce.
7) Cover the noodles with about 1/3 of the spinach mixture. Then put a layer using about 1/2 mushroom mixture.
8) Repeat: 1 layer of noodles, 1/3 spinach mixture, 1/2 mushroom mixture.
9) Place 1 more layer of noodles. Layer the remaining spinach mixture on top.
10) Smother evenly with 3 cups of marinara sauce, making sure that all the noodles are completely covered in sauce.
11) Sprinkle with Faux Parmesan
12) Bake uncovered in pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
13) Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.
1 cup raw almonds or cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbs. salt free Italian seasoning
In a food processor, combine all ingredients until a powered texture is formed. Can be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Possible Substitutions and Notes:
1) For gluten-free lasagna: replace the noodles with gluten free lasagna or rice noodles, or bake thin slices of eggplant for 20 minutes first and use in place of noodles.
2) Instead of beans, extra firm tofu can be used.
3) Instead of frozen spinach, frozen kale can be used.
4) Sliced black olives can be sprinkled on top before baking.
5) Instead of hemp seeds or cashews, pine nuts can be used.
6) Refrigerated leftovers slice more cleanly than when the lasagna is hot.
Vegan Caesar Dressing
¼ cup blanched almonds
¼ cup soy mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
Directions: Blend all other ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water, as needed, to achieve desired consistency.
Creamy Cashew Mac & Cheese
From Plant Powered Living
Ingredients for the Sauce
(Makes 1 whole batch, around 8 – 10 people)
2 cups raw cashews
juice of one lemon
1/4 small red onion
1/4 – 1 Jalapeño or Serrano pepper (depending on your heat tolerance, I omit for the kids)
1/2 – 1 cup Nutritional Yeast
sea salt & pepper to taste (at least 1 teaspoon of sea salt)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 Tbs oil
brown rice elbow macaroni or rainbow spirals (or your favorite pasta)
about 1/3 cup Almond Milk (or other nut milk)
steamed broccoli or grilled broccoli (optional)
sautéed mushrooms (optional)
Lots of Love
1) First boil the water for the noodles with a dash of sea salt and 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
2) Next, make the sauce by putting 2 cups of cashews in your high powered blender and add water so that it covers the nuts by about an inch or two. Then add the remaining sauce ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add any additional salt or seasonings you wish, to obtain the flavor you prefer.
3) When the water boils, add the noodles, and stir occasionally. Once the noodles are cooked, drain and add them back to the pan.
4) On low heat, stir in as much sauce as you desire, along with the steamed broccoli (or whatever veggies you want). I also like to add a little almond milk during this part, and will taste again, and sometimes add more salt if needed, prior to serving.
5) Once everything is heated through and tastes good, serve topped with sautéed mushrooms (if you so desire), and enjoy!
Rice-Broccoli Casserole W/ Nutritional Yeast
Adapted from Food.com
10 ounces broccoli
2 cups white rice
1/2 cup soy margarine
1/2 cup unbleached gluten-free flour
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce or 1 tablespoon tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 pinch turmeric
1 cup nutritional yeast
salt and pepper
1 pinch paprika
1) Steam the broccoli about 6 minutes. Prepare the rice according to package directions.
20 Spread the cooked rice evenly over the bottom of a 13 by 9 baking dish. Sprinkle the broccoli over the rice and set aside.
3) Preheat oven to 350.
4) Melt the margarine in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Beat in the flour with a whisk over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Then whisk in the boiling water, salt, soy sauce, garlic, onion powder and tumeric. Cook the sauce until it thickens and bubbles, stirring constantly. Then whip in the yeast. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5) Pour the sauce over the broccoli and rice, sprinkle the top with paprika and bake for 15 minutes. If desired, place pan under broiler for a few minutes until the sauce is browned and crusty.
From Post Punk Kitchen
1/4 cup walnut halves
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh black pepper (to finish)
1) First toast the nuts. Preheat a large heavy bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-low heat. First toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes, tossing them often. Then add the pinenuts for an additional 5. They should turn a few shades darker and smell warm and toasty.
2) Transfer toasted nuts to a food processor. Add the garlic and pulse everything into fine crumbs. Add the basil, cilantro, thyme, salt, nutritional yeast and water and puree until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides at least once to make sure you get everything. Stream in the olive oil and blend until well combined. Last but not least, blend in the lemon juice.
3) I serve it over warm pasta (don’t rinse, it needs the starch to stick), and finish it off with some fresh black pepper.
Leaning Into Veganism