Spice of the Month: Nutritional Yeast

Spice of the Month: Nutritional Yeast

By Laura Coffee, Marketing & Owner Services Manager, Co-op Owner

Is Nutritional Yeast (also known as ‘nooch’ by natural food lovers the world over) really a spice? Not exactly – yeast is a single-cell organism, not a plant, so it can’t technically be called a spice. However, we thought it qualified for this series because it can be used like a spice to add a range of delicious umami flavors to your favorite dishes. Unlike baking yeast, nutritional yeast has been heated and dried so it can no longer be used to make things rise. The positive of this is that once you add it to a recipe, you don’t need to worry about continuing fermentation causing ‘off’ flavors over time. One classic use for nooch is to sprinkle it over popcorn to create a pleasantly cheesy flavor without adding any dairy. For future installments of this series, be sure to sign up with the CRDL!

Beyond just sprinkling a bit over your dishes for flavor (a great option for salads, pasta dishes, kale chips, and casseroles), there are many uses for this versatile flavor booster. You can mix it into sauces, soups, stews, and broths as a thickener in addition to the taste and nutritional value it adds to the dish. Adventurous cooks may even want to experiment with using nutritional yeast to make a variety of vegan cheeses. Here’s a fun recipe for Nacho Cheese you may want to try. It can even be used to make tasty treats for our furry friends!

Arugula Pumpkin Pesto

  • 2 cups packed arugula*
  • 1 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbsp oilve oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Toast the pumpkin seeds on parchment paper in a 350F oven until lightly browned. Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor and process until well-combined. The texture will be slightly coarse, but spreadable. The pesto can be spread directly onto bread or crackers, tossed with rice or pasta, or combined with beans or chopped veggies for a tasty compound salad.

*There is a lot of room for customization with the greens in this recipe. I chose arugula because I like the spicy kick paired with the cheesiness of the nutritional yeast. You could also make this pesto using spinach, basil, or a combination of greens, all of which will pair well with nutritional yeast.

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