What was once a demand from our parents has evolved into an act of pleasure with a new cookbook from single chef Joe Yonan, food and travel editor at The Washington Post.
There are cookbooks written by chefs and then, occasionally, a cookbook written by a writer who is also a chef. “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” by Joe Yonan is the latter. His new book is full of tantalizing recipes framed with tips and essays about his love for edible plants, his affection for farmers’ markets, his hope for vegetarian restaurants and his concern for sustainable living — all blended into an entertaining and informative read from cover to cover.
Yonan, who is single, fully appreciates the rewards and challenges of solo living, evidenced not only by his 2011 book, “Serve Yourself – Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One,” but also by his monthly column “Cooking for One” in The Washington Post.
“Eat Your Vegetables,” like his first book, is written for single people (or lone vegetarians living in an omnivore household) who want to eat tasty, visually appealing veggie-centric meals that are reasonably easy to prepare, minimize the need for boring leftovers and don’t require the need to reconfigure for smaller portions. The result is a collection of recipes that will satisfy singular gourmands without leaving the carnivores amongst them begging, “Where’s the meat?”
Yonan’s personal evolution from multi-course menus of pork belly, foie gras, sweetbreads and lamb cheeks to the verdant land of vegetables began when he realized that the rich meat dishes he was eating at restaurants night after night were taking a toll on his waistline and his energy level. The food hangovers from hard-to-digest meat-based meals were becoming a too-frequent occurrence. To counterbalance, Yonan’s grocery list became ever more veggie-centric and inspired recipes that feature ingredients grown from the earth – from the humble sweet potato to the exotic rainbow radish – found in his beloved farmers’ markets or grown in his own vegetable garden.
But it wasn’t just that. Yonan was increasingly bothered by the terrible treatment endured by industrially farmed livestock, as well as the impact that commercial livestock production has on the environment. The result: goodbye food comas and hello to a sustainable living philosophy. For a boy raised in Texas with a professional chef’s diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and a job that requires a high level of foodie-ism, it was quite a transformation.
Still, Yonan is quick to point out that he isn’t a militant vegetarian. In fact, he admits to using fish sauce and anchovies on occasion when cooking. “I’m only zealous about one thing,” he says, “cooking, and for single people to realize that cooking for ourselves is worthwhile, satisfying, potentially meditative, possibly invigorating and maybe even a delightful endeavor.”
Yonan was so inspired by his new way of eating that he took a year off from work to write “Eat Your Vegetables,” spending much of that year at his sister and brother-in-law’s rural home in Maine, where he had the opportunity to fully embrace the satisfaction that comes when you grow your own meals.
The book’s chapters cover salads and dressings; sandwiches and soups; baking, roasting and broiling; stovetop cooking; sweets; entertaining; and recipes for the fridge, freezer and pantry. But don’t just scan the recipes or you’ll miss Yonan’s engaging narrative and food prep tips. Who knew you’re supposed to “massage” kale? Or even considered making your own salad dressing instead of just buying a bottle at the grocery store? Or that cooking a beet is as easy as wrapping it with aluminum foil and roasting it in the oven until you can poke it with a fork?
He says his recipes are guidelines, not mandates, and urges his single readers to please their own palettes and taste as they go along. Yonan wants people to have a relationship with the food they’re cooking. “Learn to cook by interacting with your food,” he says. “Don’t be slaves to instructions and the timer. Pay attention – be aware,” he says, in what almost sounds like good dating advice.
From Yonan’s perspective, the experience of cooking and eating veggies is like being single: satisfying, when you’re willing to approach it with a positive attitude. Try it and you may find yourself wondering why you really needed to eat so much meat in the first place. As Joe Yonan says, “You don’t miss the animal elements when you’re enjoying everything else.”
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.
Calling All Foodies!
Join Singular magazine on Sunday, December 8 from 6-9 p.m. for a reception, cooking demonstration, food tasting and book signing with Joe Yonan, single living advocate, chef, cookbook author and food and travel editor at The Washington Post.
We’ll sip sparkling wine provided by Constellation Brands and sample coffee beverages from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® while learning how to make delicious vegetarian dishes found in Joe Yonan’s new book, “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” — and then taste the results.
SingularCity members will receive an autographed gift copy of Joe’s new vegetarian cookbook and all guests will have an opportunity to meet Joe and purchase a signed copy of the book for themselves and their singular friends (a great Christmas gift idea).
Tickets are $25. Click here to purchase on Eventbrite.
The event takes place at The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories inside “The Market” on the 3rd floor dining deck at Santa Monica Place shopping center. The Gourmandise School is a hands-on culinary school with a focus on teaching classic techniques using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The school offers pastry and cooking classes, professional courses and fascinating food workshops. Click here to see a map.
There is only space for 40 guests so we suggest you get your ticket early.
If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 310-481-0413.