Your First Recipe with Nutritional Yeast – Easy Pesto Casserole

Nutritional Yeast

This is a guest blog post by By Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, LDN.

Nutritional yeast does not have the most appealing name and some people may confuse it with the type of yeast you use to make bread (baker’s yeast) or beer (brewer’s yeast).  Nutritional yeast is deactivated which means it is no longer a living organism and usually of the species S. cerevisiae. Generally well known in the vegan/vegetarian world, nutritional yeast is a substitution for cheese as it has a nice savory/nutty flavor. It is often used on popcorn, kale chips, or in recipes (see below!).

Nutritional yeast is a good source of protein and B-vitamins, particularly B-12 for those who choose to avoid animal products (where most people get their natural sources of the vitamin).  If this product is new to you, experiment to see how you can add this healthful flavoring into your daily life.

See a sample nutrition label for RED STAR Nutritional Yeast:

  • Serving = 1.5 Tablespoons
  • 70 Calories
  • Total Fat 1g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Sodium 0g
  • Potassium 3g
  • Total Carbohydrate 6g
  • Dietary Fiber 4g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 8g

And now to a recipe: Easy Pesto Casserole, adapted from the Forks Over Knives cookbook by Del Sroufe. This is a great way to use your end of summer veggies up. The recipe incorporates classic summer veggies like basil, squash, and tomatoes and also features – you guessed it! – nutritional yeast. Enjoy!


1 tsp olive or canola oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings

2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch rounds

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large yellow summer squash, cut into ½ inch rounds

2 large tomatoes, cut into ¾ inch rounds

1 batch of Basil Pesto:

Basil Pesto

2 cups packed basil (could also use arugula if desired)

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

½ tsp salt

1 package organic silken tofu, drained

¼ cup nutritional yeast


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Boil potato rounds in a medium saucepan of water for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and season with salt and pepper.

3. While potatoes are cooking, warm oil over medium heat in a large skillet and sauté onions for 10 minutes or until browned. Add water 1-2 Tbsp at a time if they are sticking to the pan excessively.

4. Combine all basil pesto ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.

5. In a glass 9×13 pan, place a layer of zucchini evenly on the bottom. Season with salt and pepper and spread a dollop of basil pesto on top. Add a layer of yellow squash, season with salt and pepper and spread a dollop of basil pesto on top. Add a layer of potato rounds and spread a dollop of basil pesto on top. Repeat until veggies are used up in layers. Top with tomato slices and then onions. Season once more with salt, pepper, or other fresh herbs from the garden such as basil or thyme.

6. Bake casserole for 30 minutes. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.


Ginger Hultin is a clinical dietitian specializing in integrative cancer care in Chicago, Illinois.  She has a Masters degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Seattle and believes that whole foods and an emphasis on cooking at home can help overcome some of America’s food problems. Read her blog and follow her on twitter @GingerHultinRD

  • Fistuk

    Don’t be fooled! Nutritional yeast is NOT a source of B vitamins. This product is deactivated and any natural vitamin it previously had has been denatured in the process. The claimed vitamin content is sprayed on synthetic chemicals disguised as vitamins. You may as well just take any other chemical cocktail (called multi-vitamins).

    Has anyone investigated the free-glutamate content of this product?

  • Granny Goat

    Please include some recipes and commentary on animal based foods….once in a while. I’ve heard every bad thing there is to say about eating meat, dairy etc. Is there any body out there with something positive to say about….well….home cooked vegetable beef stew? Organic grass fed beef, organic veg added 15-20 minutes before serving, sea salt, etc. Tell me what I can do to make this better or what I can avoid that will make it worse!

  • jc m

    Don’t use canola oil, just use olive oil. Canola oil is GMO!!!