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!
Vegan Twice-Baked Potatoes
One More Thing!
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.
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