What Nutritional Yeast Can Do For You

What Nutritional Yeast Can Do for You

Nutritional yeast takes these dressings, toppings and seasoning blends up a notch.

As both a food editor and a semi-functioning member of society, I’m a little embarrassed to admit how frequently I eat popcorn for dinner. (A couple of times a month, at least.) And I delude myself only slightly: It’s vegetable adjacent.

Nutritional yeast is the backbone of my fine-tuned and finely ground house popcorn topping, contributing irresistible cheesiness without any dairy. For some time, I used it only for popcorn because, frankly, I didn’t know how to harness its full potential. But much like miso paste, nutritional yeast will last a very long time — like, U.S.-representative-term-long — when stored airtight in a cool, dry place. So I had ample time to figure things out.

Nutritional yeast, or deactivated Brewer’s yeast (a.k.a. saccharomyces cerevisiae, used for beers and breads), has long been pitched as a high-protein, vitamin-packed health food. But it is likely to better serve you as a savory flavoring agent than as a nutritional supplement. (Though, depending on the brand, it can contain somewhere between 6 to 10 grams of protein per ¼ cup, which isn’t nothing.)

Thanks to some pretty genius recipes, I’ve graduated from popcorn to other gratifying nooch applications. Adding nutritional yeast to a buttery, salty bread-crumb topping for a bit of tang seemed so obvious to me after I saw Alexa Weibel do so for her creamy Swiss chard pasta.

Using nutritional yeast as a wholesale cheese substitute isn’t novel, but I particularly love how it completely replaces Parmesan when blended into Becky Hughes’s beloved vegan Caesar dressing, and how it adds a familiar richness when paired with dairy-free butter in Ali Slagle’s vegan twice-baked potatoes.

And then there are all of the seasoning blends you can make that aren’t exclusively for popcorn, like Bryant Terry’s umami powder — a combination of pulverized dried mushrooms, nutritional yeast and nuts — which he uses in his pesto-ish pasta sauce made with blanched broccoli.

Allow that container of nooch to languish no longer!

What Nutritional Yeast Can Do For You
David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews
Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.
Bobbi Lin for The New York Times

Go to the recipe.

I knew I was going to miss having a dishwasher when I moved into a new apartment last year, but I really did not expect to miss having a microwave. But thanks to my colleague Priya Krishna, I do!

I am so intrigued by her method for cooking rice in the microwave, her preferred appliance for preparing the grain. (Apart from an Uncle Ben’s-type bagged rice, I’ve never made microwave rice.) The microwave is, per her detailed reporting, more consistent than a stovetop burner and more practical than a single-function appliance like a rice cooker. College students without access to a stove, as well as folks without counter space to spare, may find this technique especially useful:

“But the method that worked every time was also the simplest: rinsing the rice thoroughly, adding double the amount of water, and microwaving, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the wattage of the machine. It may take a few attempts to figure out the exact timing for your microwave — in my 700-watt machine, it takes 22 and a half minutes — but once you do, you won’t have to think twice about it.”

Run, don’t walk, to her recipe! See you next week.

Email us at theveggie@nytimes.com. Newsletters will be archived here. Reach out to my colleagues at cookingcare@nytimes.com if you have questions about your account.

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