A reader requested that I write about nutritional yeast. This piqued my interest because while I’d eaten nutritional yeast before, I have to admit I didn’t really know what it was and I’d only had it on top of popcorn.
I discovered nutritional yeast in college, on the counter of my university’s student-run Coffee House (the cafeteria), which is affectionately called the CoHo. At the time, I saw the yellow flakes and wondered what they were. The flakes look remarkably like fish food but have a strong cheesy and nutty flavor (although who knows what fish flakes taste like). Nutritional yeast is popular among vegetarians and vegans due to its nutritional benefits and flavor. A complete protein, it is also high in vitamins, including B-complex vitamins, and is low in fat and sodium.
Made by culturing yeast with sugarcane and beet molasses, you can often find nutritional yeast in the bulk section of natural food stores. A little goes a long way, so buying in bulk is especially nice with this interesting food. It’s often used as a condiment, as it was intended to be at the CoHo. Try it on top of popcorn, potatoes, eggs, or tofu. It’s also used in cheese substitutes, which is what inspired me to try making “cheesy” vegan breadsticks.
The breadsticks, although they had no actual cheese in them, actually tasted quite cheesy! The onion and garlic also add some nice flavor and they are especially good with a dipping sauce.
Vegan “Cheese” Breadsticks
Makes 18 breadsticks.
Prep time: around 40 minutes
Baking time: 10 minutes
- 1 T yeast
- 1 T sugar
- 1/2 C warm water
- 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 t garlic, diced
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 4 T nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 t salt
- Pinch of black pepper
Combine yeast and sugar in small bowl. Pour warm water over and whisk for a moment to mix together. Let sit in a warm place (a turned-off oven works well) for 10-15 minutes, until yeast and sugar are dissolved and mixture has expanded and become frothy.
In a small saucepan sautee onion and garlic in a little olive oil until onion becomes translucent. Add this to the yeast mixture, along with the rest of the ingredients. Knead dough until soft and divide into 18 even pieces. Roll pieces into skinny sticks and place on oiled baking sheets. Let sit in warm place until they have doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake breadsticks for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with ranch, marinara, or your favorite dipping sauce.