Joe Yonan

Journalist, cookbook author

Washington, DC

Joe Yonan

Food and Dining editor of The Washington Post
Weeknight Vegetarian columnist
Editor, "America The Great Cookbook"
Author, "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook"



Beans on toast is basic. This is special.

Believe it or not, toast can be topped with other-than-avocado foods. Take beans, for example. The Brits have long been obsessed with their classic beans on toast, but their preferred method involves canned baked beans and a thin slice of sandwich bread. No offense, but when I put beans on toast (or crostini or bruschetta, if you’re feeling Italian) I like to think it through a little bit more and try a little harder.
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An ode to Hellman’s mayo, the lone star of my childhood sandwich

I had a white-bread childhood, at least at the table. My mother served meatloaf blanketed in Campbell’s cream of mushroom concentrate, cooked-to-death broccoli-cream cheese casserole, “Texas salad” — and lots and lots of Wonder Bread. My favorite thing to put on slices of that fluffy, tasteless white loaf was just as white: an obscenely thick smear of Hellman’s mayonnaise.
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How to make a creamy chowder that won’t weigh you down with cream

Creamy without the cream. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for in a first-quarter-of-the-year soup — something that might taste a little indulgent and filling for these cold February nights but that will help me continue my post-holidays trim-down strategy. Cashews, of course, are the answer.
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For a refreshing take on a grain bowl, stir up a pot of polenta

The Italian way with polenta, topped with saucy vegetables and/or meat, might have been the original grain bowl. When you tire of rice, barley, wheat berries or the like, polenta is another delicious way to get your whole-grain fix. What’s important is how you make it. I tried a pretty basic recipe I found in “Plant-Protein Recipes That You’ll Love,” using polenta from Bob’s Red Mill that’s not stone-ground, and although it cooked quickly, I found the result disappointingly bland.
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For the perfect sweet-and-sour sauce, make your own

Here’s the truth about sweet-and-sour dishes: One cook’s sweet is another cook’s sour. That is, the balance between the two is highly subjective. Take lemonade, the most beloved sweet-and-sour beverage that comes to mind. I prefer it on the tart side, with barely enough sugar to take the edge off.
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This simple Portuguese soup will perk up your cold-weather doldrums

For decades, vegetarians have looked to global cuisines for inspiration. The pioneer was Anna Thomas, author of “The Vegetarian Epicure,” a 1972 bestseller. As Jonathan Kauffman writes in his captivating new book, “Hippie Food,” at a time when much vegetarian food was brown-on-brown, Thomas “pored over Italian and Middle Eastern cookbooks, in which vegetables were integrated in ways meat-and-potato Americans never imagined.”.
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This black bean dish will make you forget how cold it is outside

There are black beans, and then there are black beans with orange juice. If you haven’t tried squeezing some in, trust me, it’s a revelation — a Caribbean take that is especially appealing now that we’re deep in winter’s chill. The first time I tried the technique at home was when following a recipe from the great J.
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For a bowl of winter comfort, lentils are the easy answer

I take lentils for granted. I’ve had bursts of creativity using them, but for the most part they sit in my pantry while I reach for bigger, more tempting members of the legume family week in and week out. Until one day, I’m out of cans of chickpeas, don’t have any cooked beans in the fridge or freezer, and don’t feel like taking out the pressure cooker to bang out a new batch.
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The secrets to cauliflower-crust pizza that you’ll want to devour

When it comes to trendy foods, I’m no early adopter. It took me years to get past my quibbles with quinoa, to dive into the mysteries of chia pudding and, most recently, to tackle a cauliflower pizza crust. As with the first two items on that list, the cauliflower pizza I tried a couple of years ago was so disappointing (soggy), I dismissed the entire concept as not worth the time.
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This cheesy potato casserole can take you home

This time of year, I get homesick for a home that doesn’t exist anymore. My mom is in a nursing home in Maine, far from the rambling West Texas house where I grew up (and which we sold last year), and the closest thing I have to her cooking is an old spiral-bound cookbook and the recipe cards stuffed into it.
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Here’s a quick way to satisfy your hankering for noodles

I’ll make this brief: Sometimes, nothing but noodles will do. It’s chilly, I’m hungry, and all I want is to slurp up carbs from a bowl. Maybe it’s spaghetti with a simple marinara sauce. Maybe it’s a soup like ramen, where the noodles come first and the broth (and everything else) after. Or perhaps it’s something in between.
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The cozy-season path to easy tomato soup starts with roasting

There’s a cruel irony when it comes to tomato soup: I want to use fresh tomatoes in it, but by the time sweater weather comes around and has me in a soup frame of mind, good local tomatoes are a thing of the past. That has previously left me with just two choices: Wait until next year, or use canned tomatoes.
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Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan is the two-time James Beard Award-winning Food and Dining editor of The Washington Post and editor of "America The Great Cookbook" (Weldon Owen, 2017), a work to benefit No Kid Hungry that was named among the best cookbooks of 2017 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” (Ten Speed Press, 2013), which was named among the best cookbooks of 2013 by The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and NPR's "Here and Now.” In 2011, he wrote “Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One,”. which Serious Eats, David Lebovitz, and the San Francisco Chronicle named to their best-of-the-year lists.

Joe was a food writer and Travel section editor at The Boston Globe before moving to Washington in 2006 to edit the Post’s Food section. He writes the Post’s Weeknight Vegetarian column and for five years wrote the Cooking for One column, both of which have won honors from the Association of Food Journalists. He also writes regularly about his efforts to grow food on his 150-square-foot urban front yard. His work from the Globe and Post has appeared in multiple editions of the “Best Food Writing” anthology.

In addition to his writing and editing, Joe frequently speaks about his work at conferences, book festivals and other events, and has taught many cooking classes through such venues as Central Market, Stonewall Kitchen, Culinaerie, L’Academie de Cuisine and SideTour.

Joe, who grew up in West Texas, spent 2012 in North Berwick, Maine, on leave from the Post to learn about growing and homesteading from his sister and brother-in-law and to work on “Eat Your Vegetables.” He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the Cambridge (Mass.) School of Culinary Arts.