Joe Yonan

Journalist, cookbook author

Washington, DC

Joe Yonan

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



Weeknight Vegetarian: A baked, Tex-Mex version of the classic chilaquiles

If you want a treatise on authentic chilaquiles, the Mexican skillet dish of fried tortillas, salsa, cheese and sometimes a fried egg, this isn’t it. Instead, I’m going to sing the praises of a dish with some of the same elements, and the same name, even though I have no doubt that some purist out there will question whether I’m allowed to call it that at all.
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Plate Lab: When squash and celery root turn into a dish of ‘noodles’

Quotation marks on a menu can raise a red flag: When one food plays the part of another, the chef behind the creation had better be skilled or the result can seem gimmicky. Thankfully, it’s the former at Thally in Shaw, where chef-owner Ron Tanaka coats fall vegetables in warming spices and tart yogurt to deliver a plate of “noodles” that are anything but.
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Weeknight Vegetarian: Yotam Ottolenghi on ‘Plenty More’

If there was a vegetarian cookbook of the decade, it would have to be “Plenty,” Yotam Ottolenghi’s 2011 international bestseller, which has helped introduce scores of home cooks to the glories of za’atar, pomegranate molasses, preserved lemons and other formerly esoteric Middle Eastern ingredients.
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Weeknight Vegetarian: Defusing the sodium bomb

Most vegetarians I know have a soft spot for Asian cuisines. Vegetables are revered in that part of the world, which is also the birthplace of tofu and tempeh, two pillars of plant-based protein. Plus, cooks in Japan, China, Korea and other Asian countries have a knack for seasoning, and for creating dishes with interesting textures — two crucial (and often lacking) qualities in vegetarian cooking.
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Plate Lab: At Zaytinya, a giant of a bean makes for a spectacular Greek stew

Long before Michael Costa became head chef at Zaytinya in Penn Quarter, he was a fan, and one of his usuals, please, was piyaz, a stew of beans, kale and tomatoes. “There’s something very comforting about it,” he says. That something is the star of the dish: gigantes. Gigantes (pronounced YEE-gahn-dess) is Greek for giants, and with good reason.
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Free Range on Food: Q&A on cooking

How you keep falafel from falling apart, and other questions about cooking.
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Falafel, by the book — except for some flavorful variations

How can you tell whether a falafel recipe is a good one? Two clues: 1) It begins by having you soak dried chickpeas; 2) It ends by having you dunk the falafel in hot oil, for honest-to-goodness frying. We can look at this another way, from the negative side: Any recipe that calls for canned or even home-cooked beans should be tossed aside, because that will result in a mushy thing that’s about as far from falafel as, well, a bean dip is from a burger.
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Tacos for vegetarians and vegans alike

As a taco fanatic, I can relate to Jason Wyrick. I don’t have Mexican ancestors like he does, but growing up in West Texas I fell hard for Mexican food. So when I read the introduction to his new book, “Vegan Tacos,” and reached the statement that the cuisine “is still my absolute favorite food in the world,” I was hooked.
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Weeknight Vegetarian: A spicy stew made creamy with nut butter

Sometimes I like to go back to basics. For a relatively new vegetarian like myself — and even for more experienced ones — I think it’s helpful every so often to remember why we made this transition in the first place. For me, the reasons included (and still include) health, environmental concerns and, though I haven’t talked about this next piece of the puzzle so much, a sense of ethical obligation to the animals of the world.
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Weeknight Vegetarian: In a griddle cake, okra shines without the slime

I know what so many of you think about okra, because I hear it all the time. Unappealing. I won’t argue the first point, because that’s a verifiable fact. But I will take issue with the second, partly because I don’t consider okra’s texture a deal-breaker. If you do, some cooking methods — particularly my go-to technique for so many vegetables, high-heat roasting — can reduce the slime factor.
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Weeknight Vegetarian: Another treatment for a favorite vegetable

One of the best things about casting a wide net for recipes is that, bit by bit, I build my knowledge. Take beets: I had always cooked them (wrapping, roasting, cooling and peeling) until one day, years ago, I came across a Moroccan treatment that had me shredding them raw for a salad. Another day, a smart cookbook author taught me to forgo the peeling altogether when I was using the baby variety and to not worry about the relatively thin skin.
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Weeknight Vegetarian: Don’t cook these grains. Soak them.

If you can’t cook, soak. That’s what I’ve started doing when I want to prepare grains without raising the temperature — the stove’s, the kitchen’s or mine. It’s not a new idea. The technique goes back to traditional preparations for that classic Middle Eastern parsley-and-bulgur salad, tabbouleh.
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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 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 four 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.