Richard Bainbridge’s secret ingredient: nutritional yeast

 <span>Photograph: OlgaMiltsova/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: OlgaMiltsova/Getty Images

I’ve recently found out about nutritional yeast and it’s kind of blown my mind. For years, it was a kind of secret vegan substitute and it has all these savoury flavours; you can sprinkle it on even the most basic salad and it gives an amazing umami finish. It’s a brilliant seasoning, even over roast potatoes.

It has an almost salty finish, like parmesan, so you can use it as a substitute. I’ve made a vegan mac and cheese for the restaurant – incredible, a unique depth of flavour. We make pesto with it, and we’ve been using it with wild garlic.

My pastry chef told me to try it on popcorn – we have it for movie night and my kids love it. Once the corn has popped, we add a little oil and sprinkle over the nutritional yeast. Talk about a flavour explosion.

I also use it in vegan ranch dressing. I make a raw cashew cream, then I put in lemon juice, garlic, onion, a bit of dill, sea salt and nutritional yeast, and I blend it all up. We have it as a dip in summer with crudites, or use it to dress salads. That’s my favourite thing to do with it, and my girls absolutely love it.

Richard Bainbridge is chef-patron of Benedicts in Norwich; restaurant