“Eat Your Vegetables” Joe Yonan’s New Cookbook To Be Released In August!

Food & Travel Editor
The Washington Post

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by Danielle Bussone

Joe Yonan at Richmond Vegetarian Festival

Joe Yonan at Richmond Vegetarian Festival

If you live anywhere near our nation’s capital, enjoy good food and do not live under a rock, the name Joe Yonan is probably as familiar to you as the White House or The Washington Post. Joe Yonan came to the Post as Food Editor in 2006 and added Travel Editor to his repertoire a few years later. He has twice earned for The Washington Post the James Beard Foundation’s award for the nation’s best newspaper food section. Yonan has also won honors for his Cooking for One column which inspired his book, “Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking For One” (Ten Speed Press, March 2011). He co-authored “The Fearless Chef: Innovative Recipes from the Edge of American Cuisine,” with chef Andy Husbands (2004). Yonan writes a weekly column Weeknight Vegetarian as well as other food and travel features for The Washington Post.

Last year Yonan took a break from the Post and spent some time in southern Maine learning to homestead on his sister’s and brother-in-law’s farm. Each day he had his hands in the soil learning everything he could about growing his own food. When he wasn’t up to his elbows in dirt he was working on his new cookbook, “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook,” due to be released August 6 of this year by Ten Speed Press.

Veggin’ Out and About’s restaurant reviewer, Danielle Bussone, caught up with Joe Yonan at the annual Richmond Vegetarian Festival in mid-June where he demonstrated how to cook a recipe from his new book, “Eat Your Vegetables.” His simple pasta recipe, Fusilli With Corn Sauce is prepared in less than fifteen minutes. It is a refreshing burst of summer flavors, yellow onions sautéed in olive oil and freshly picked sweet corn. The aromatic addition of raw basil chiffonade adds a fragrant complexity to the dish. The best way to truly describe it is, “Yum!”

Joe Yonan is an affable man whose easy manner engages his audience. He is fairly new to vegetarianism. His transition has not been a conscious choice but rather has been an organic, intuitive one. It wasn’t until he was promoting “Serve Yourself” that he realized that almost two-thirds of his recipes were vegetarian. This was the first time he comprehended that something was going on with his own eating tendencies. He also had a flash of realization that vegetarians who are not single are nevertheless interested in single servings because there are times when they are the only one in the house. This flash of understanding was the impetus for “Eat Your Vegetables.”

As with his previous book, Yonan was startled to discover nearly seventy-five percent of the recipes he created for “Eat Your Vegetables” are vegan. When he was living in Maine, spending every day in the garden, Yonan found himself falling in love with vegetables. “…I just became more and more attracted to the possibilities of vegetables. Then, when I came back it I decided it was just time for me to own up and be honest with myself and other people and just come out [as a vegetarian].” Yonan refers to this as his “second coming out.”

How does being a vegetarian effect his role as Food Editor of The Washington Post?

“Frankly, I have meat eaters on staff because I do think at The Post the Food Section needs to represent all kinds of eating and I don’t want to proselytize to all my readers that everyone has to become vegetarian. For me it is a personal choice. I think about it like religion. You read a lot of background, you talk to a lot of people, you maybe get some professional advice about it. You try some things and at a certain point you make a decision for yourself. I thought it was important to draw a line between what I decided to do and what all the readers of The Washington Post should do. So, thankfully, I have other members of my staff who are not as herbivoracious as I am. So, it all evens out.”

Yonan reports that since he became a vegetarian a year ago he feels fabulous. He is clearer headed, has more energy and it is easier to control his weight. He no longer has “food comas,” a food hangover which is a common malady suffered by food professionals. “It was harder and harder for me to recover from some of those meals. It just takes a toll on you. I don’t get food comas anymore. Even so-called indulgent meals…  when it’s vegetarian, I feel great!”

What distinguishes “Eat Your Vegetables” from other vegetarian cookbooks is that it is aimed at the single cook. Yonan feels this book is also perfect for couples because his definition of a single serving is a bit larger than most. His recipes can easily be split among two people. The addition of a side dish completes the meal. In this book, Yonan “pays systematic attention to how, as a single person or as a couple, to handle things like leftovers, shopping and storage in a way that doesn’t result in a lot of waste.”

“This is one of the overarching differences between “Eat Your Vegetables” and many other books.” says Yonan, “Also, my food is globally influenced. I travel a lot and I think I have a pretty good knack for bold flavors which represent the kinds of cuisines that I think people find most interesting. So there is a lot of Asian and Mexican…”

So, what’s next for Joe Yonan?

“Well, I’m not cooking for one as much I used to because I’ve been in a really good relationship for about a year and a half now. So, I think the next will not be aimed at single cooks but will be another vegetable oriented book. I’m interested in unique, different ways of cooking vegetables and ways of thinking about cooking vegetables so I kind of imagine that that might be next.

I’m also interested in growing food. …I imagine that the next thing might also have more to do with growing in an urban setting and making that connection between eating delicious vegetables and growing them.”

Joe Yonan’s new cookbook, “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” will be released in hardback and in eBook editions on August 6, 2013. Copies can be pre-ordered now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore and Indiebound or directly from Joe Yonan’s website, Feed Yourself Well.

5 Comments

  1. I just met Joe at Big Summer Potluck 4 in Bucks County PA in July. We got to taste some of his recipes like Poblano Tapenade!

  2. Amanda

    Can’t wait to read more. Thanks!

  3. Danielle

    Thanks! I ordered his two previous books. I haven’t received the “The Fearless Chef” yet but “Serve Yourself” is excellent!

  4. Excellent interview; am looking forward to Joe’s book!!

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