The first time we cooked with nutritional yeast, it was in a recipe for vegetarian gravy. Although nutritional yeast doesn't sound terribly alluring, the gravy turned out to be a big hit that Thanksgiving, and since then we've enthusiastically incorporated the savory yeast into all kinds of dishes, from popcorn to pasta.Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses. It comes in flake or powder form and is distinct from the active yeasts used in bread making. Packed with B vitamins, it has a nutty, cheesy flavor and is often used to emulate cheese in vegan dishes. However, you don't have to be a vegan or health nut to enjoy it. Nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on pasta, salads, baked potatoes, soups, and anything that would benefit from some umami flavor. One of the most popular ways to eat nutritional yeast is sprinkled on popcorn. It also makes a good coating for fried tofu.
Nutritional yeast can usually be found in the bulk or supplement sections of health food stores. Some brands include Red Star, Frontier Natural, Bob's Red Mill, and Kal. It is also known as savory yeast flakes. Be sure not to confuse it with brewer's yeast, which is a similar product but has a bitter flavor.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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