You might have noticed that nutritional yeast features in my list of cupboard essentials and in a lot of my recipes. When I first heard of nutritional yeast I thought it was some sort of yeast used to make bread or something along those lines – thinking to myself that I won’t need that anytime soon. But after further investigation, I discovered what a culinary gem nutrional yeast is.
Nutritional yeast is a member of the fungi family. It is made from an organism called saccharomyces cerevisiae which is grown on molasses, harvested, washed and dried with heat to deactivate it. It has a cheese and nut like flavour and is usually sold in powder or flake form. Due to its cheese like flavour, most people use nutritional yeast for its flavour.
How to use nutritional yeast
Non-dairy cheese substitutes: Nutritional yeast can be used to make non-dairy cheese substitutes for use in cooking. I make one that is similar in taste and consistency to ricotta and use it in my version of melanzane and lasagne as well as on pizzas and in stuffed peppers.
Parmesan cheese replacement: Sprinkle nutritional yeast over your pasta or pizza instead of parmesan. A good tip is to blitz some almonds in the food processor and mix these with the nutritional yeast before sprinkling over pasta for added texture and flavour.
Dips: There are so many dips you can make with nutritional yeast. I make a cool ranch dressing which works really well as an accompaniment to hot and spicy dishes. Watch this space for some recipes for delicious creamy dips.
Vegetable Bake: Sprinkle a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast over your vegetables to get a cheese like flavour along the lines of a traditional vegetable bake.
Sauted greens: Add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to your greens when sauting them for a creamy consistency and flavour.
Baked potato fries: When oven baking potato wedges, before serving toss them in a little nutritional yeast for a parmesan cheese like flavour.
Salad dressings: Use in salad dressings for extra creaminess.
I started using nutritional yeast for its flavour as opposed to any nutrition reasons. Having said this, nutrional yeast does have nutritional value. It contains B-vitamins, folic acid, protein and magnesium. It’s low in fat, gluten free and contains no added sugar and preservatives. Some brands of nutritional yeast contain vitamin B12 which is absent from plant foods and as such is important for those on a primarily plant based diet.
It is available from health food stores and larger grocery stores. I use the Marigold brand as it is locally available.