“Cheesy” Asparagus with Nutritional Yeast

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Asparagus baked with nutritional yeast to make a vegan "cheese"
White plate with asparagus with nutritional yeast as a vegan cheese| The Radiant Root

If you’re looking for a new way to add taste and flavor to veggies try this delicious “cheesy” asparagus with nutritional yeast. It’s a great recipe for anyone who is looking to cut back on their intake of cheese. It’s also a nice swap for cheese if you’re like me and your system just can’t handle a lot of the dairy.

White plate with asparagus with nutritional yeast as a vegan cheese| The Radiant Root

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With the spring in bloom, it’s that time when the vegetables are aplenty. One of my favorites is asparagus. If you’re looking for a way to get more veggies into your diet you want to be sure to pack them with flavor. Roasted asparagus can get boring so I like to jazz it up with a vegan “cheese” sauce that incorporates nutritional yeast.

I am not that big on dairy. I think I may have an aversion to it so I try to limit it in my diet. I found that nutritional yeast is a great substitute when I’m craving that cheesy flavor. Before this recipe, I had never made a “cheese” sauce. My results were better than I expected. My husband Art liked it too.

What Is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is actually a yeast. It comes from the single-celled yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It grows on wood pulp, sugar cane, blackstrap molasses, and sugar beets. 

It derives energy from these foods. Unlike baking yeast, it undergoes a drying process that leaves it inactive. It is dairy-free, soy, and usually gluten-free. You may want to double-check the food label to be sure.

Don’t Confuse Nutritional Yeast with Brewers Yeast

Nutritional yeast is not Brewer’s yeast. They come from the same yeast species but they are not the same. As the name tells you, brewer’s yeast makes beer. It is a live active yeast. Nutritional yeast, on the other hand, is for edible consumption only.

It comes in the form of flakes, granules, or powder. You can find it in the spice aisle. In addition, health food stores may sell it in bulk containers.

Nutritional Yeast Has a Lot of Nutrition

I am all about incorporating more nutrition into my meals and nutritional yeast is a nice food to add to get some extra nutrients.

Nutritional yeast is packed with nutrition. Two tablespoons contain the following nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Copper

This food is a good source of the essential B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and B12. It is also naturally low in sodium and provides many of the needed trace minerals including magnesium, copper, and zinc

How Does Nutritional Yeast Taste?

The taste of nutritional yeast can be described as cheesy, nutty or savory flavor. So it’s no wonder it is used as a cheese substitute for some dishes.

The flavor comes from glutamate. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid and this compound is what gives nutritional yeast that umami flavor. 

Not All Nutritional Yeast Is Created Equal

You don’t want to grab any old yeast for this recipe. That is because some brands are fortified with synthetic vitamins. There are two types of nutritional yeast

  • Fortified 
  • Unfortified

Fortified nutritional yeast means there were additional nutrients added in during processing. Often these will include the synthetic form of folate known as folic acid. 

Unfortified brands are usually naturally derived and processed. However, you want to be careful of what brands you choose because some of them contain additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG). 

When choosing a nutritional yeast look for a non-GMO organic brand that is naturally grown and does not contain any additives or synthetic ingredients

Here is a list of brands that I have found that are a better choice:

You can also do a search on Amazon* for non-fortified organic nutritional yeast and see what the reviews say about different brands.

*Some of these links are affiliate links, this means when you sign up or purchase from these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more in our disclosure statement.

Some People May Have Issues with Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is typically dairy, soy, and gluten-free. However, some people may have issues with this food.

For instance, the high fiber content may cause digestive issues for those not used to eating fiber. So if you’re not used to eating fiber be careful when consuming nutritional yeast. Drinking enough water can also help ease digestion.

Consequently, some have also experienced headaches, migraines, and a flushed face after consuming nutritional yeast.

Additionally, nutritional yeast contains tyramine. This is a naturally occurring amino acid. It may cause migraines in some people. 

Large quantities of the B vitamin niacin may cause the face to get red, hot, and itchy. This normally happens when large quantities are consumed, however, since nutritional yeast is a food rich in niacin you want to go slow and not use more than 2 tbsp. 

While uncommon, some people may be unable to tolerate nutritional yeast. It seems to be most prevalent in those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and can worsen symptoms of IBD.

Glutamate, the naturally occurring amino acid is good for nutrition, but can also be bothersome to some individuals.

If you haven’t tried nutritional yeast before it is best to go with a quality brand and try a small bit to see how if there are any negative effects.

Ingredients To Use In This Recipe

Asparagus is an interesting vegetable in that it seems to grow in two different shapes. Sometimes the asparagus spears are thin and sometimes they are thick. For this recipe, I used the fatter variety of asparagus because that was what I found at the store. If you wind up using a thinner type of asparagus the amount of cheese sauce may be more.

This recipe is very simple to make. It only requires four ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, filtered water, asparagus and nutritional yeast. 

"cheesy" asparagus with nutritional yeast ingredients on a wooden cutting board asparagus, and three small clear glass dishes containing water, extra virgin olive oil, and nutritional yeast

How to Make “Cheesy” Asparagus with Nutritional Yeast

The recipe is very simple and straightforward. Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim the tips of the asparagus and set them aside.

Cutting the tips off of an asparagus

Next, make the “cheese.” In a small bowl mix the nutritional yeast until it is well blended. Set the mixture aside.

Nutritional yeast "cheese" mixture of water and nutritional yeast in a glass mixing bowl with a whisk

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Then top the asparagus with the “cheese” sauce until all the spears are completely covered. If you want your asparagus extra cheesy you can sprinkle additional nutritional yeast. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until asparagus is crispy.

A baking sheet with raw  asparagus covered in extra virgin olive oil and a nutritional yeast "cheese"

Once cooked, I topped the roasted asparagus with some more nutritional yeast

A baking sheet with cooked asparagus covered in olive oil and a nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce

Why I Didn’t Use Salt or Garlic In This Recipe

Some recipes will add salt and garlic. For anyone of you who knows my recipes, you know I love garlic and always put it in almost every dish I make. Surprisingly, this dish is pretty tasty even without them I didn’t feel the need to add garlic this time. I think the nutritional yeast and asparagus make a nice flavor that doesn’t need any enhancements from garlic.

I also use salt minimally in my cooking to avoid overuse of this nutrient. I also find the flavor of the cheese is powerful enough without any added spices.

Equipment Used In This Recipe*

Here is a list of the equipment I used to make this recipe

*Some of these links are affiliate links, which means when you sign up or purchase from these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more in our disclosure statement.

White plate with asparagus with nutritional yeast as a vegan cheese| The Radiant Root
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“Cheesy” Asparagus with Nutritional Yeast

Asparagus baked with nutritional yeast to make a vegan "cheese"
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian
Keyword 30 minute meal, AIP, antioxidants, baked vegetables, dairy-free, easy meal, under 30 minutes, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 3 5 spears

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tbsp cold or expeller pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (plus more for sprinking)
  • 5 tbsp water

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash and dry the asparagus.
  • Cut off the tips of the asparagus and set aside.
  • In a small bowl add the water and nutritional yeast until it blends into a "cheese" sauce and set aside.
  • Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and brush with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Top with the "cheese" sauce until all the spears are completely covered.
  • For an extra "cheesy" feel top with additional nutrition yeast so well covered.
  • Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until asparagus is crispy.
  • Top the cooked asparagus with more nutritional yeast.

Video

Notes

 
*Nutritional information is estimated using Nutrifox nutrition label maker*
 
 
 
*Disclaimer: Some of these links are affiliate links, this means when you sign up or purchase from these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. The Radiant Root is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Learn more in our disclosure statement.

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