Sunday, February 17, 2008

Per Request...A Discussion of Nutritional Yeast

This is nutritional yeast. It, along with tofu, brown rice, sprouts, and nutloaf, make me think of 1970s vegetarians. (I love all of these...except nutloaf, which I've never tried. The name makes me giggle too much.)

Some people say that it tastes like cheese, and indeed, it's the main ingredient in a lot of homemade non-dairy cheeses. (Although I've never had a non-dairy cheese that I liked, I don't blame the nutritional yeast.) Nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12, which is difficult to get on a vegan diet...and in fact, I "discovered" nutritional yeast during a foray into veganism.

I don't really think that it tastes much like cheese -- at best, it bears a vague resemblance to a very mild Swiss cheese -- but I do like it on pasta. I'll often mix it with a little bit of pasta cooking water, salt, and pepper, and add some cooked green peas... it looks like mac-and-cheese, at least :) Or I'll sprinkle it on pasta and tomato sauce to cut the acidity. I really like it mixed into vinaigrette dressing, or in potato soup. (Some people also say that it's got a chicken-esque flavor. It's been a long time since I've had chicken...but I'll say that it probably tastes about as much like chicken as it does like cheese. But it does add some depth/complexity.) I usually add a little to pesto, use it to make the sauce for veggie pot pie, and I've also heard people say that it's good on popcorn (sprayed with olive oil to make it stick). And it's vital to my broccoli casserole, which also features, um, brown rice and tofu.

And just for the standard disclaimer: nutritional yeast is NOT baker's yeast (the stuff that makes bread rise), nor is it brewer's yeast (the stuff that makes beer fabulous). It is also (contrary to my beliefs until about 10 minutes ago) not an ingredient in Marmite or in Annie's Goddess Dressing. But it is wonderful!


Blogger Nupur said...

Hey, my interest is piqued...I need to try this nutritional yeast!
I must be a 70s vegetarian too; I love tofu, sprouts and like brown rice too, for the most part. Never tried nutloaf :D *giggle*

Sunday, February 17, 2008 7:11:00 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Mmmmmm....I love nutritional yeast.

Popcorn is the best with nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper (sans olive oil, however).

Nutloaf can be good, or it can be terrible!

Monday, February 18, 2008 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm also still looking for a store-bought non-dairy cheese that I like! On my to-do list is to try some of the recipes in Real Food Daily for nacho cheese and others. But back to "nooch", I like it in sauteed spinach, right out of the pan.
I enjoyed talking "veg" food with you Sunday night!

Monday, March 31, 2008 5:23:00 PM  

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