Creaminess is texture not found consistently or very frequently in vegan eating due to the absence of dairy. The most common vegan sources of something creamy are probably avocado, soaked and blended nuts, non-dairy milks and butter substitutes, and tofu. But certainly when cheese is removed from the picture, you need to get a little more creative to bring back a creamy texture to your plate.
I made vegan mac & “cheese” a while back, the base of which was Daiya “cheddar”, and was extremely pleasantly surprised with how great it turned out both in favor and mouth-feel – though Daiya gets most of the credit for creating a product that melts and imitates real cheese so closely.
I’ve been reading a lot about nutritional yeast though, and my curiosity to make something in which that was the main ingredient finally got the best of me. I made this nutritional yeast sauce over the weekend and similar to my vegan mac & cheese, I was yet again taken aback by how well this creation turned out.
On a slight digression… I’ve seen nutritional yeast referred to as “nooch” on many online resources… and maybe since “nutritional yeast” is a lot (I guess?) to say/type over and over, I can begin to understand a shortened nickname… but even so, I just can’t get on board with calling it nooch. No judgement, but I prefer the whole name or an initial abbreviation (NY?)!
Nutritional yeast is an interesting and versatile ingredient. I’ve been using Bragg brand, which is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and sugar-free. And, not only does it taste great in many recipes, nutritional yeast has some noteworthy nutritional value, particularly for a vegan source. Most of all it’s a tremendous source of B vitamins – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), cobalamin (B12) – as well as other vitamins like selenium, 18 amino acids, and minerals such as zinc and iron. (On yet another quick digression, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we are constantly told to “take our vitamins”, but sometimes the benefits and specific importance of each gets lost in translation. So, stay tuned for a post on the breakdown of important vitamins and minerals!).
This nutritional yeast cheesey sauce is easy to whip up in no time, and is so tasty: it’s very creamy, rich, salty and tangy. It’s also very versatile: eat is as is and dip in your favorite chips or crudite, pour it over raw or cooked veggies or grains, or add in some diced tomatoes, olives, peppers or herbs for a new twist.
Click through for the recipe!
Recipe: Nutritional Yeast “Cheese” Sauce
What You Need
- 1/4 c nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- a few grinds of fresh black pepper
- 1/4 c flour (brown rice or other gluten-free blend, or all purpose unbleached flour)
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 c water
- 1 1/2 tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan butter substitute)
- dried cayenne (optional)
What You Do
- Mix all of the dry ingredients in a small saucepan
- Slowly whisk in the water, whisking until all clumps are gone
- Add Earth Balance and put the saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently until it begins to bubble and thicken
- Remove from heat and taste in case you need to adjust any seasoning
- Add a pinch or two of cayenne for some heat, or chopped veggies for a heartier dip/sauce
- Leftovers should keep for a couple of days in an airtight container in the refrigerator – but my guess is you’ll rarely have any leftovers to save when you make this!