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"


Free Range on Food


In defense of spinach pancakes: A recipe worth loving, unless you’re an Internet troll

Back in March, Chelsea Clinton set the Internet on fire when she tweeted a photo of spinach pancakes she made for her family for National Pancake Day. The fury was swift and funny: “Looks like the residue after the swamp is drained” might have been my favorite retweet. Clinton defended the choice as a way to get her daughter (who loves the pancakes) to consume more iron, and others praised her.
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Want to go vegan? One author’s advice: Do it gradually.

If you like reading cookbooks for more than the recipes, you need to read Ann Hodgman, one of the few cookbook writers whose introductions (we call them headnotes) and even recipe names regularly make me chuckle, if not guffaw. Take the introduction to a recipe she calls Cauliflower Steaks (but Let’s Not Go Nuts Here): “You can cut a cauliflower into thick slices and call them steaks, but they are not steak and will never be steak, no matter how brown and caramelized they get.
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Vegetable inspiration from the West Coast doesn’t always mean California

It’s not an exaggeration to say: Kim O’Donnel helped turn me onto vegetable-focused cooking. I was the just-hired food editor of The Post when she was a popular Post food blogger, and she was the first to tell me about Meatless Mondays, and the first to persuade me to make a black bean burger. O’Donnel moved to Seattle just a couple years after I moved to the District, but we’ve kept up over the years at conferences and through mutual friends, and as my eating habits have changed, I’ve continued to be inspired by her work.
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Make a jar of this, and every meal is just a sprinkle away from crunchy

One common complaint about vegetarian dishes is that they can lack texture. But plant-based foods can range in texture just as much as meat can, so it’s simply a matter of paying attention to that quality when you’re cooking. Most weeks I write about a full-fledged meal, but this week I’m writing about a DIY pantry item that can act as a texture-insurance policy.
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Who was James Beard, anyway? A new documentary attempts an answer.

These days, the name James Beard is inextricably tied to the foundation that bears his name — and to the prestigious chef, restaurant and media awards it grants every spring. But long before a medal was hung around the first winner’s neck, Beard, who died in 1985 at age 81, was a hugely influential culinary figure.
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For quick vegetables that sing, cook them simply — and then slather them in sauce

Apologies to the Beatles, but in the kitchen, all you need is sauce. Vinaigrettes for your salads, creamy purees for your grain bowls, salsas for dipping, glazes for coating. I mean, if you think about it, what is soup, if not a big bowl of sauce? With perhaps some chunks of vegetables and/or proteins swimming in it.
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Branded, and over it: You don’t have to sell me on the place I chose to eat in.

They call it “retargeting.”. Using cookies to track your Internet shopping and browsing, advertisers bombard you on every page you surf with images and links to the very things you were last considering. Annoying from a consumer’s point of view, sure, but from the advertiser’s perspective it’s smart — and often, I have no doubt, effective.
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How to turn asparagus into a bowl of pasta that sings of spring

Spring is a glorious time for seasonal cooks, especially us plant-based ones, because, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Out with the turnips, in with the asparagus! Early in asparagus season, I find it hard to resist simply steaming, blanching or even broiling them, and eating them with a simple sauce.
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Given a little steam, broccoli can become a star player

I’m a brassica believer. Give me cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts or broccoli, and I’m happy. But I also realize that everyone doesn’t feel the same way. They’ve had stinky, mushy cabbage, or tough kale, or drab and overcooked broccoli, and they can’t imagine it can be any other way.
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This mushroom’s made for stuffing

I’ve made no secret of my mushroom love. As I’ve written, I like to divide them into two categories: the interesting varieties (oysters, shiitakes, morels, puffballs and the like) that I find at the farmers market or forage; and the less-interesting ones (buttons, creminis) I buy at the supermarket.
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An easy grain bowl built on roasted tofu, broccoli — and a killer dressing

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a fast-casual restaurant out of my home kitchen, with a nightly clientele of just two. What grain would we like for the base of our bowls? What protein? What vegetable? What dressing, and what crunchy topping(s)? That’s when things are working the way I’ve planned, and I’ve got all of the above — in multiple choices, sometimes!
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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.