Nutritional yeast: LOVE It!
Who loves nutritional yeast? Me me me! And millions of others 🙂 Nutritional yeast flakes are especially loved by vegans and vegetarians for their nutty, cheesy, and umami flavors, which can add a cheesy taste to a variety of dishes without animal products. True to its name, nutritional yeast is packed with nutrients: it contains iron, zinc, and B vitamins (including B12 in some products), as well as fiber and protein. It’s a real bonus that you can sprinkle these flakes on just about anything for the taste alone!
Nutritional yeast works wonders in all kinds of foods, but I hadn’t tried it in a salad dressing yet. Well, now I have! I recently came across a recipe where nutritional yeast flakes are blended into an incredibly thick and addictive “vinaigrette” with soy, oil, and vinegar, and I’m happy to spread the word about this sauce to all of you. Hope you enjoy this nutritional yeast dressing as much as I do!Jump to Recipe!
Nutritional yeast… Brewer’s yeast… nooch?
I came across these tasty flakes back in the day under the name “brewer’s yeast”. They have indeed been sold as such in Finland for decades, as a dietary supplement. For some reason, I never stopped to find out where this name comes from – I just suspected that the product must be related to beer making. And lo and behold, I was right! Nutritional yeast aka brewer’s yeast used to be a brewery by-product – apparently it was yeast that was filtered out of the beer, so it had a slightly bitter taste.
Nowadays nutritional yeast (or nooch as the cool kids say) is made with molasses. In case you’re wondering why would I eat yeast? … Well, fear not: the yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), has been made inactive. It’s been heated up and dried, and it will not start bubbling in your belly! Instead, it will just dance on your taste buds lol. Both brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast have been around for a long time – and although back in the early 90’s when I first saw it only in hippy health stores, it seems to be extremely trendy now. If you are cooking vegan or vegetarian food you surely couldn’t have avoided it… And rightfully so, it adds so much flavor to so many dishes!
By the way! There’s a good article about this ingredient in Epicurious, if you want to look deeper into the history of this beloved flakey substance 🙂
Nutritional yeast dressing
I have been using nutritional yeast mainly in my vegan “cheese” concoctions, and sprinkled on top of all kinds of savory dishes. But now it’s become a part of my salads too! I discovered a recipe called Nutritional Yeast Vinaigrette over on the YouTube channel by Carla Lalli Music. She shared a recipe from her IG pal @cabincorn along with a loads of hype. It sounded almost too good to be true, so obviosly I had to give it a go immediately!
The original recipe (that someone shared in the comments, so take my use of “original” with a grain of salt) includes only nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, tamari, garlic and olive oil, but Carla substituted part of the oil with tahini. Everything is blitzed up into a thick emulsion and yes, you certainly will be sampling spoonful after spoonful whilst making it! It is GOOD.
I was curious about the recipe, so I did some googling for “nutritional yeast dressing” and “nooch dressing”. Well it just so happens, that the interweb seems to be full of recipes with very similar ingredients. Mostly on plant based recipe blogs and sites – for obvious reasons I suppose? Well, let’s add one more to the list! I could not resist taking a spin on this recipe 🙂
Chinkiang vinegar, chinese sesame paste, sichuan chili oil, yum!
My inner taste compass has lately been pointing steadily towards Asia, and my cupboards are filled with ingredients such as black Chinkiang vinegar, Chinese sesame paste and homemade Sichuan chili oil. Obviously I had to use them in the recipe! I also added in some fresh ginger along with the garlic, and mellowed out the vinegary sharpness of the dressing with some agave syrup. The resulting emulsion is super thick and creamy! So thick in fact, that I’ve been thinning it ever so slightly with freshly squeezed mandarin juice.
Once you start playing around with different vinegar, fat and spices, you really can adjust this recipe to all kinds of tastes and uses. Swap the sesame paste to peanut butter: get a different result. Blend in some fresh herbs, scallion, crispy fired onion: a different result. Substitute some of the vinegar with lemon juice? A different result. The possibilities are endless!
With what ever you end up using, you can serve this nutritional yeast dressing with salad, obviously! This includes the more substantial salads based on chickpeas, pasta, rice, beans… Lately I’ve been so lazy with my cooking however, that my lunches have literally looked like the pictures on this blog post. A lunch consisting of charred broccolini, smothered with the nooch dressing is how I roll these days… To be fair though, I’m currently working from home and just sitting on my laptop all day long. My meals tend to be on the lighter side of things for a reason!
Anyway, the point is, you can use the dressing with what ever you want! I think it would be great with all kinds of roasted root/veggies (especially something like pumpkin or sweet potato!), but also with pan seared or fried tofu, fatty fish like salmon. Since the sauce is rather on the tangy side, I would pair it with a dish that includes something sweet.
Nutritional yeast dressing – with a fiery kick!
- Immersion blender
- 1½ dl Nutritional yeast
- ⅔ dl Llight soy sauce
- ¾ dl Black Chinkiang vinegar
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2-3 cm Piece of fresh ginger
- ½ dl Chinese sesame paste
- 4 tbsp Agave syrup
- 1 dl Neutral tasting vegetable oil
- ½ dl Sichuan chili oil (with/without the solid chili flakes)
- 1 tbsp Toasted sesame oil
- 1-2 tbsp Freshly squeezed mandarine juice (If needed!)
- Store the nutritional yeast dressing covered in the fridge.
- Go ahead and experiment with other oils, vinegars, nut / seed pastes, seasonings… to get your own perfect combination!
- Measure out the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame paste, syrup and nutritional yeast into a blender / deep and narrow container. Throw in the peeled garlic and ginger, cut into smaller pieces. Blend until homogenous.
- Start drizzling in the neutral tasting oil in a thin stream, whilst blending to create an emulsion. Drizzle in also the chili oil, with as much of the solid chili flakes as you can tolerate 😉 Finally blend in the toasted sesame oil.
- If you want to thin out the dressing, I would recommend using mandarine juice (or some other rather sweet fruit juice). Just make sure you blend it in well!