Recipe for Disaster: A Collegiate Culinary Column

Hillary Hoover, Culinary Columnist

Being vegan, I’ve heard a lot of interesting substitutes for animal products: Boca burgers made from soy and veggies; rice, oat, and hemp milks; applesauce and baking powder to replace eggs; and a variety of soy and rice “chreese” blends.

But as I looked into possibilities for my next recipe, I came across an ingredient that I was not familiar with: nutritional yeast.  It’s a powdered form of fungus that acts like a parmesan cheese substitute.

Nutritional yeast is a great source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. Ignoring the temptation to call out “BINGO!,” I read further into the label.  A serving size of 1 ½ tablespoons contains 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of protein. Let’s face it though, no matter how good it is for you, it’s got to taste even better.

In our latest recipe for disaster, a fungus is among us! Will nutritional yeast be an interesting way to energize a dish or will it take over like a black and white horror film? Find out as we tackle macaroni and cheese!

Recipe: (serves 1) Dinner time in less than 30 min!

1 cup of uncooked pasta (elbows, bow ties, dinosaurs- your choice!)

½ cup of soymilk

¼ cup of mashed potatoes

3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon of buttery spread

Dash of onion powder

Dash of curry powder (for a zing!)

1 slice of veggie cheese

1 piece of hardened toast made into breadcrumbs

Begin by cooking your pasta and preheating your oven to 375 degrees. I’ve found that cooking your pasta in the microwave and cooking your pasta on the stove take relatively about the same time when you’re making a small batch, but I would rather make it on the stove.  Add a little salt to two cups of water as you are boiling to increase the temperature of the water and add your pasta at full boil. Cook until desired doneness- usually about 10 minutes for a softer noodle.

If you decide to microwave your noodles, combine water, pasta, and salt and cook on high for 7-10 minutes.

While this is cooking, in a separate pot combine your other ingredients and stir on low heat to combine the mixture.

Drain the noodles and combine them to the “chreese” mixture in the pot, making sure that it covers the noodles. If it starts to become a little dry, add a little bit more buttery spread and soy.

When you are confident in the mixture, pour it into a baby casserole dish—mine is another relic from the depths of the White House kitchen—and top with breadcrumbs and a slice of veggie cheese and bake until browned. This should take another 10 minutes.

I pride myself on making things look delicious, but everyone knows looks can be deceiving. I can only imagine “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” morphing over the sides of the dish and panicking as I try to vanquish it with a fire extinguisher.

However, on the first bite, I noticed that this beast was very tame. Quite mild as far as the cheesy flavor goes. The nutritional yeast provides a creamy, nutty, and cheese-like flavor to the recipe, which kind of took me aback.

It was actually rather good and I give the recipe two thumbs up.

As the cold wintery days begin and we seek warm comfort food recipes to fill our bellies, this recipe can be altered to fit anyone’s dietary concerns. Nutritional yeast is vegan, soy-free, and celiac friendly. This is a great dish to kick off the winter air!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail [email protected]