By special request, this month’s article is about nutritional yeast. If you’re experimenting with plant-based cooking, eating vegan meals one day a week, want to add flavour to your recipes, or are just trying to get more vitamin B12, this article is for you.
Nutritional yeast is best known as a great source of B12, which is something everyone eating plant-based needs to supplement with since it’s mostly found in animal products. The bonus is that it’s also full of umami, which means it adds rich, complex flavour to just about anything you add it to. And because you’ve read this far, I’ll let you in on a secret: those of us who are familiar with it call it ‘nooch’ for short (because nutritional yeast is a terrible name).
Since nooch comes as a flaky dry good, whatever quantity you buy will last a while in your cupboard. It’s so handy and universal that when it was suggested I write about it, I couldn’t even think about what to include. It’s like someone asking you to write about broth: what is there to even say? Then I did some googling and remembered past meals where nooch featured prominently, like the brunch when the restaurant literally sprinkled a tablespoon of nooch on my roasted potatoes (which was surprisingly delicious). But I quickly came up with some ideas, probably more than you need. So, here are seven ways to incorporate nooch into your cooking, for delicious results.
Add to Broth and Soup
Whether you’re making broth from scratch or using something from the store, adding nutritional yeast will boost the flavour. Try half a tablespoon per cup of broth and heat a bit until the flakes have dissolved.
Use in From-Scratch Salad Dressing
A couple months ago I wrote about making your own salad dressing. It might sound impossibly ridiculous, but it only takes a few minutes and yields incredibly tasty results. You can customize to your exact preference without unnecessary preservatives or mystery ingredients. Add nutritional yeast when you add the spices. Crush the nooch between your fingers a bit, like you would to get oregano bits a little smaller, and try adding a teaspoon per cup of dressing.
If you would like a creamy dressing instead, this Caesar dressing recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, writer of most of the cookbooks on my shelf. I have not tried this specific recipe, but I have no doubt it’s a winner.
Add to Breadcrumb Coating
If you’re trying plant-based foods, you’re probably familiar with one recipe that has been trendy for a couple of years: cauliflower wings. Cauliflower is cut into bite-size pieces, coated with breadcrumbs, baked until crispy, and eaten with your favourite sauce. At the bread crumb stage, add about a tablespoon of nooch for each cup of breadcrumbs, and continue as usual. It also works for other recipes requiring a breadcrumb coating, like baked zucchini, or even stuffed mushroom, which are instead stuffed with a flavourful breadcrumb mixture (and now with nutritional yeast).
I make a sweet potato wedges recipe that goes like this: add a bit of oil and selected spices to a bowl, add raw sweet potatoes cut into wedges, toss to coat, then roast wedges in the oven until tender inside and crispy on the edges. You probably do something similar for roast potatoes or other vegetables; just add some nutritional yeast to the oil when you add the other spices, and continue with the recipe as usual for added umami in your roasted veg. For advanced-level nooch consumption, sprinkle some directly on the cooked wedges (like below).
Add to Dough for Crackers and Soup Dumplings
Are you one of those insufferable people making sourdough? So am I. I’ve been trying new recipes in an effort to use up my sourdough “discard”. (For those who are unfamiliar, if you have more starter ready than you can use to make bread, you can either use the extra in another recipe or discard it, hence the name.) I’ve been gravitating to easier, low-fuss recipes, since who likes having something complicated on the go when I’m already babying my sourdough? Sourdough crackers are an easy, delicious way to use up excess starter and are also delicious with nutritional yeast. Try a half-tablespoon to one tablespoon of nooch per cup of dough and see how you like it—it probably won’t add a specific ‘noochy’ taste but it will seem more generally flavourful. If you’re making soup dumplings, add nutritional yeast here, too: about a tablespoon for every cup of flour.
Making vegan gravy from scratch is all about adding flavour, since we don’t usually start with umami-filled pan drippings the way my dad did when he made gravy at Thanksgiving. My favourite recipe involves a lot of mushrooms and a bit of balsamic vinegar, since I like the zingy richness it brings. Add nooch when you add the broth, at about half a tablespoon per cup of broth. If you prefer a recipe, try this one, again from Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Heads up: the following are advanced uses of nooch! In these, the nutritional yeast flavour plays a more prominent role. If you’re still getting used to the taste of nooch, go easy on these until your taste buds welcome the taste.
Sprinkle Like Parmesan
Wherever you can sprinkle Parmesan, I’d sprinkle nooch: on pasta, roasted potatoes (like the vegan brunch mentioned above), baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, squash and Brussels sprouts.
Basic low-stress comfort pasta: Cook pasta until al dente, drain. In a bowl add cooked pasta, margarine, salt, pepper, fresh grated garlic to taste (go easy, especially if you’re around other people!), perhaps a pinch of onion powder, and a half-teaspoon to one teaspoon of nooch. Stir and serve.
Make your garlic bread like usual—bread, butter, garlic, put in the oven to get toasty–then sprinkle a bit of nooch on top. Mmmmm.
And last but not least…
Popcorn is THE BEST way to eat nooch. Make your regular popcorn (popcorn, melted margarine, a bit of salt) then sprinkle nooch on top. I can’t speak for all vegans, but if you eat nooch on popcorn, you’ll be granted honorary vegan status at movie nights.
Submitted by Kyla Winchester