Thursday, January 6, 2011

Your New Friend Nutritional Yeast, i.e. Awesome Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo

Stock Your Pantry, Episode Five: Nutritional Yeast is FRIEND not FOE!

*Do NOT fear Nutritional yeast.  I was literally afraid to use it more than sparingly, I was afraid it would taste funny or something, until like two months ago.  And thank goodness I conquered my fear because nutritional yeast, even in larger quantities, is AWESOME.  It is deactivated yeast, in either sort of flaky or powder form (looks like cornmeal).  Comes in a shaker (Red Star brand) or you can buy it in bulk in your health food store.  It is a great nutritional supplement found in many vegetarian and vegan dishes, low in sodium and fat, and very high in protein and B vitamins. The flavor and aroma are nutty and slightly salty, making it ideal in place of sprinkled cheese. It can also be used to make gravies and sauces. It is often my "secret" ingredient that people can't quite put their finger on, but the food tastes great.  It's called "nooch" by vegans/vegetarians in the know.

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo with “Shrimp,” Peas & Tomatoes

So, before Christmas I made this dish (minus the “shrimp” and peas, and plus broccoli).  It was amazing. I make a whole pound of pasta with the appropriate amount of sauce You can half the recipe easily if you’d like, or if you are only cooking for one person or two not so hungry people J.

One pound (one box) fettuccine noodles, preferably DeCecco brand.
3 ½  cups  plain, unflavored soy milk (My new fave is Westsoy Organic Unflavored)
1 tsp soy sauce or Tamari (I always use organic Tamari)
5 cloves garlic, 2 chopped or pressed, 3 just smashed with the flat side of a knife.
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried sweet basil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2-3 tablespoons non-dairy butter like Earth Balance
1 tsp to 1 tablespoon tomato paste (you can leave it out if you want, no biggie)
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast* Here is your new pantry item! 
1/8-1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper if you want it a little spicy
salt and pepper to taste

½ to 1 cup frozen peas or 1-2 cups fresh chopped broccoli florets
1 package frozen vegan “shrimp,” defrosted
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped

In a large, microwaveable 4 cup measuring cup, add the milk through basil.  Stir a bit to mix.  Microwave just to get the milk & herbs/garlic mixture warm.  It’s fine if it gets hot or whatever, nothing will happen.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your fettuccine.  In the meantime, make the sauce:

In a large, stainless steel sauce pan, melt your non-dairy butter over medium heat and add flour, whisking to form a roux (in other words, a smooth paste).  Cook the roux for about 1-2 minutes (this is in the French style, some say don’t cook the roux, some say do, I say do!)  While whisking, gradually pour the soy milk mixture into the sauce pan and continue to whisk.  Once all the milk is added, keep whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the nutritional yeast about 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking it to incorporate between additions.  The nutritional yeast will thicken it a lot, so don’t worry!  Add cayenne (if you want it spicy) and continue to whisk until sauce is thickened (it will be pretty thick, like will definitely coat your spoon, think of a nice, thick restaurant cream sauce). Add the tomato paste and whisk it some more.  Be sure to taste for seasoning at this point. Add whatever you feel it needs.  Remove the bay leaves, but leave in the garlic cloves.  Add the peas and the defrosted shrimp and stir to heat everything through while you are cooking your pasta, about 8 minutes.

Your pasta water should be ready now.  Salt it well and add the pasta.  Boil 8 minutes (for DeCecco fettuccine) If you are doing the fresh broccoli version, try this: boil pasta for 3 minutes, then add chopped broccoli florets to the water with the pasta for the rest of the cooking time (5 more minutes). Drain everything together at the 8 minute mark. A great technique. Fun! 

Using your long cooking tongs, add cooked and drained pasta gently to your big pot o’ sauce.  Use tongs to stir to coat.  Now you have Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Vegan Shrimp & Peas (or a big bowl o’ awesome).

A note on the vegan frozen “shrimp.” I got these guys, called, "Healthy Food," from a huge Asian market in Cherry Hill, NJ right on route 70.  About 5 min from my house.  I’m sure all the big Asian markets carry some brand of vegan shrimp.  Here is a picture of the empty package of the shrimp in case anyone is going to that store:

Don't forget to CHECK THE LABEL.  The last time I got lizardfish in my edamame dumplings (if you follow me on Facebook, well, you already know about this).  Here is a link to his lovely visage:  Just scroll down to see him. OMG. 
Ok, guys enjoy your pasta.  And, have some of these guys for dessert!

These are sugar cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  OMG.  I think I ate like seven of them today :-!

Have a great Friday and enjoy your weekend!


  1. Guys, I'd recommend about 1/2 tsp. of sea salt added into the soy milk mixture/sauce. Also, I just made this sauce with mini rigatoni w/ peas and vegan "pancetta" which was just vegan Canadian bacon cut into small dice and added into the sauce at the end to warm through. Of course, you could saute it separately and then add it if you have more time. This is a nice, flexible recipe for add-ins! Be creative.

  2. So fantastically creamy! My omnivore family would undoubtedly flip over this dish.

  3. Dawn! This is a great post and it sounds like a super recipe..... thanks for sharing it with me. I got brave and made some stuff with the Nutritional Yeast and it was GREAT!! I am bookmarking this also! :) have a great weekend

    1. Awww, thanks, Trace! And, congrats on your new adventures in nutritional yeast! It will be a pantry fave of yours from now on, I'm sure!

      Don't forget to add the salt (1/2 to 1 tsp of Kosher) OR you can increase the tamari (to 2 tsps or even 1 Tablespoon if you like it) in this recipe. It's not salty enough for me as written, but at least it's easy to increase the saltiness!