If there’s one “weird vegan” ingredient you should buy that has no real substitute, it’s nutritional yeast, affectionately known as “nooch” by many of us living the cheeseless life. Without fail, each time I’ve referred to nutritional yeast in conversation with someone who was unfamiliar with this miracle powder, I’ve gotten either a blank stare or a skeptical cringe. But it’s worth tracking down, and even though it does kiiiind of look like fish food, it adds a crazy-good umami factor to plant-based dishes.
If you’re trying to cut dairy out of your diet or just limiting the amount of cheese you consume, nutritional yeast can be used in several ways to provide a strangely satisfying “cheesy” vibe. There are a million vegan mac n cheese recipes out there which rely on nutritional yeast in the sauce to make it taste authentic, but you can also just sprinkle it over salads and pasta and basically anything that could use a little extra savory flavor without all the downsides that come with eating cheese at every meal. As a bonus, it has a decent amount of protein per serving (6 to 9 grams per 2 tablespoons, depending on the brand) and is often fortified with vitamin B-12, a nutrient that vegans and non-vegans alike are frequently deficient in.
Trust me. If you buy it and you don’t like it, you can just pawn it off on your local vegan- we go through it at an unreasonable rate. If you frequent your local food co-op or Whole Foods Market, you’ll have no trouble finding it. Stores like Giant Eagle and Wegmans have also started carrying it, and Amazon, as always, is a good last resort. I buy nutritional yeast in bulk and store it in a mason jar with an old parmesan cheese shaker lid on top so I can sprinkle it all over everything all the time. I swear I’m not getting paid to endorse nooch (I wish).
Even my omnivorous boyfriend who indulges in cheese as often as possible is really into the cheeziness of nooch. We may or may not have attempted to improvise the lyrics to “Hooch” by Everything to reflect my love. (You got the nooch, baby….)
ANYWAY. Nutritional yeast along with turmeric lend this cauliflower its vivid yellow color, unsweetened almond milk is the base of the light sauce, and a handful of other seasonings help to make it all zesty and delicious. If you want to adjust the flavor profile, a nice spice blend like the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s would probably be really good along with the turmeric and nutritional yeast, or you could go extra spicy and stir in some sriracha.
The nice thing about this recipe is that there isn’t much prep- once you get the cauliflower chopped and in the pan, you can gather and prepare all the rest of your ingredients while the cauliflower starts to cook.
Then you just add in the minced garlic & saute for a couple minutes…
And then add the dry spices and the chickpeas and cook for a couple more minutes…
Next, add the liquid and bring to a boil. And finally, add the remaining ingredients & simmer for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. While it simmers you can get a sink of dishes done or prepare some greens to go with it. We served it over baked sweet potatoes with steamed kale.
And packed leftovers with rice for lunch.