Nutritional yeast (fondly nicknamed “nooch” for those of you not in the know) has long been a mainstay in the kitchens of foodie vegans everywhere.
To many however, nooch is still pretty elusive. I mean, it consists of yellow flakes that vaguely resemble fish food and there are not many ways in which one can think to utilise such a substance (at least, not at first). Furthermore, if you’ve never tasted it, the hype behind why this simple condiment is so sacred to plant-based eaters will probably be lost on you. Which brings me to a fun story.
I first discovered it back in 2011, my final year at university, while slowly finding my footing with vegan cooking and it’s safe to say I haven’t looked back since. One night while whipping up dinner and typically taking up every available surface in our tiny apartment kitchen – I knocked over an open container of nooch.
Cue dramatic screams and a frantic attempt to try and scoop back every last flake back into the tub while my roommate watched me, practically in stitches. “What’s the big deal?” he asked, to which my harried response was “You don’t understand! This stuff is like crack for vegans!”
Needless to say the laughter continued for a little while longer. But dramaticisms aside, let’s get down to business; what is nutritional yeast and how can you use it?
Famously known for providing an undeniably cheesey flavour to food, Nutritional Yeast flakes can also be used to flavour just about any savoury dish. Sprinkle it on a grilled vegetables, chuck some in your favourite homemade salad dressing recipe, or add it to sauces and dips. You name it, I can guarantee it will be delicious. Scout’s honour.
Here are some of my favourite ways to use it:
1. In a creamy vegan butternut Mac ‘n Cheese sauce. I think the photo speaks for itself.
2. On top of veggie and chickpea “bowls”. My go-to meal is sauteed or steamed vegetables layered on top of chickpeas, a grain (like quinoa or millet), and greens doused in a sauce of choice and obligatory nooch sprinkled on top. I could (and often do) eat this every day for dinner.
3. On top of popcorn. The combination of nooch, sea salt and coconut oil-popped popcorn is downright other worldly.
4. In tofu halloumi marinade. And all vegan cheeses/cheese sauces, for that matter. It’s a must-have ingredient for homemade cashew cheese (recipe coming soon, fret not).
5. On top of salads! One of my favourite salad dressings consists of lemon juice, braggs liquid aminos, black pepper and a healthy sprinkling of nooch. Simple, light and super flavourful.
Aside from the primary benefit to your taste buds, nooch is also a great source of protein (8 grams in 2 tablespoons!), fiber, minerals and B vitamins including B12. A winner all around? I think so.
(Ps. If you’re in Bahrain and wondering where you can get your hands on some nooch, I pick mine up from Al Jazira Supermarket or Geant. It does occasionally go out of stock, so buying in bulk is advisable if you’re a die hard fine like I am.)
Until next time dear readers!