Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Shout Out to Nutritional Yeast

Since Suzanne asked (and since I probably should start explaining the more bizarre ingredients I use anyway), here's a little post about nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast is a type of yeast with a sharp parmesan-y flavour rather than the typical yeast-y flavour you'd expect. It's also, as the name indicates, loaded with vitamins (although a bunch of them, like B-12, are added to it). For these reasons,
it's pretty popular with vegans in making cheesy-tasting dishes. You can get it powdered or in flakes, and I much prefer the flakes -- they have a lighter, tangier taste that's more conducive to mimicking cheese or upping the umami factor in whatever you happen to be cooking. (Also, a lot of the powders have non-vegan additives in them like whey, so be sure to read labels.)

Surprisingly for someone who's been vegan for a while and likes to cook, I haven't used nutritional yeast in very many dishes. It's apparently very good as a coating for frying tofu, sprinkled on popcorn, and in place of parmesan on pasta and the like. (Hm, maybe I'll challenge myself to branch out now.)

In addition to the alfredo, I make a pretty decent mac'n'cheese with nutritional yeast. It tastes more like that white cheddar mac'n'cheese than the yellow stuff, but it satisfies that cheesy comfort food craving.

I pretty much never measure the ingredients, so all measurements here are very approximate:

• 1 c pasta (measured dry)
• 1/2 tsp miso paste (a little less if you're using dark miso)
• 1/2 c water
• 2 tablespoons white flour
• 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
• optional: a little turmeric for colour
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 3-4 drops of apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp margarine

Boil pasta in slightly salted water. In a bowl, mix the miso paste in the water until diltued evenly. Add the flour, nutritonal yeast flakes and turmeric (if using it) and mix well until there are no lumps. Add more water if necessary; it should be a heavy cream-like consistency. Add the soy sauce, a little at a time, to taste. Add the vinegar. Pour into a saucepan, add the margarine, and heat, stirring, on medium low heat, until it begins to boil and thicken. Remove from heat, stir well, and pour over cooked and drained pasta. Yum!

More info on nutritional yeast:

Wikipedia
bulkfoods.com

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

i have to confess, about 2 seconds after posting that question i headed over to the wikipedia entry and satisfied my craving for knowledge. mmm, sounds delish, and i think i'll give that mac n' cheese recipe a try.

p.s. i made tempeh bourguignon for my dinner party, and it was delicious and vegan and umami-rich... however, i found myself really, really disliking tempeh, and i usually love the soybean in all of its may forms. it stayed really, really firm and almost crunchy (maybe it was my mistake for buying the 12-grain variety!) i was wondering if you has used it much in the past, and what you found it good for... thanks again for the shout out, babe.

suz