Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook Hardcover – Aug 6 2013
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“I love everything about this book: the concept, narrative, context, voice, look, and feel. Then there are the recipes—so inviting, I just want to start at the beginning and cook my way through the entire batch. And as if we need a bonus, Joe’s personal warmth and intelligence shine through all of this like a big embrace.”
—Mollie Katzen, author of The Moosewood Cookbook and The Heart of the Plate
“Joe Yonan is a kindred spirit; he too is a meat lover who’s embarked on a vegetable-forward adventure and made more room for plants on the plate. But he’s done much more in Eat Your Vegetables: Joe invites us along for a delicious ride that includes the highs and lows of edible gardening and the joy of cooking for one (with smart, practical tips for managing leftovers and minimizing food waste), wrapped in an impassioned plea to get off the couch and—yes!—into the kitchen.”
—Kim O’Donnel, author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations and The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook
“It’s hard to write inspired recipes that are simple, but that’s just what Joe Yonan has done in Eat Your Vegetables. In addition to good food, Joe offers great advice for anyone looking to cook more often and more successfully. Read his essay on how to use a recipe and you will become a better cook even before you get into the kitchen.”
—Jack Bishop, Editorial Director, America’s Test Kitchen, and author of Vegetables Every Day
“I’m thrilled to have Joe’s creative collection of recipes that serve vegetables in perfect portions for quick meals by myself—it even includes a sweet selection of desserts for one (which is great because I don’t have to share!). With Eat Your Vegetables as your guide, you’ll be prowling the produce bins with a fresh eye on flavor.”
—David Lebovitz, author of Ready for Dessert and The Sweet Life in Paris
About the Author
Joe Yonan is author of Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One (Ten Speed Press, 2011), which Serious Eats, the San Francisco Chronicle, and blogger David Lebovitz named one of their favorite books of the year. The book was an outgrowth of his monthly column, Cooking for One, for The Washington Post, where he is Food and Travel editor.
Before working at the Post, Joe was a food writer and Travel editor at The Boston Globe. His writing for the Post and the Globe has appeared in multiple editions of the Best Food Writing anthology, and he has won awards from the James Beard Foundation for best newspaper food section, the Society of American Travel Writers for best large-circulation newspaper travel section, and from the Association of Food Journalists for his Cooking for One column.
Born in Georgia and raised in West Texas, he got the cooking bug from his Indiana-born mother, who let him shop for the family groceries starting at age 8 and indulged his demands to use her stand mixer because he thought it was so cool. He spent 2012 living with his sister and brother-in-law in southern Maine to learn about (and help with) their homestead, where they are trying to grow as much of their food as possible.
Joe holds a professional chef’s diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts outside Boston and a bachelor of journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Washington, DC.
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So, I would say that this is not so much a book of spectacular vegetable dishes, as a self-help book of recipes and essays to help you start down the road towards eating less meat.
Of course, this cookbook is still about Yonan's belief that singles should--definitely--bother to cook for themselves. The book just suggests, subtly, and by way of the recipes' ingredients, that you can cook without meat and still have a wonderful, fulfilling meal that makes you feel good about yourself. Yonan created this vegetarian cookbook because he observed that there were quite a lot of single people out there who were avoiding meat. And when he thought hard about that, he realized he was moving in that direction also. Come to think of it, just how quick your own personal movement away from meat and towards veggies is, may ultimately depend on where you live, with whom you live, how big your garden is, your culture, or whether you cook for yourself or a family. But, bottom line, aren't we all moving at some rate of speed towards less meat? More veggies, more beans, more grains? So, this is a collection of recipes that celebrate meat-less-ness.
This is not a collection of veggie side dishes. Yes, there are salads, dips, soups, and some sides. But most of the recipes make a full, well-rounded meal for one. And, like those in his first book, these recipes are made for one person--not recipes for four servings that he suggests you freeze for later in small portions. Yes, there are a few recipes that will result in leftovers: Leftover cooked ingredients, or leftover halves of lemons, avocados, half-cans of chipotle peppers or beans. But Yonan either has future plans for those ingredients in another recipe or he provides tips for how to keep the "halves" fresh. These recipes also work quite nicely for two people; just double them.
The chapters are somewhat arranged by cooking process, although the salad, sandwich, and sweets chapters are a mixed bag of cooking techniques. But he does separate oven and stovetop cooking into two chapters. If you are wondering about the "Sweets" chapter I mentioned, it doesn't include veggies, just fruit desserts and a nice chocolate chip cookie with some whole grains. There is also a final chapter that includes some general and pantry recipes. He does a great and simple kimchi, marinated and baked tofu, and pickled golden raisins.
Included in the book are some great essays: "Forget the Clock, Remember Your Food" in which you are reminded that exact timing is not as important as using your senses; one that discusses our changing attitudes towards meat and mock meat, and "The Politics of Cooking", which encompasses much more that I want to sum up here--definitely worth reading, though. Yonan is a great writer.
Here are the recipes that I tried and I liked:
--A kale and mango salad with a lime and ginger vinaigrette; in it the kale is "massaged"--so nice!
--A miso-mushroom omelet, with another kale salad;
--Grilled cabbage with udon noodles and soy-glazed tempeh; I wasn't so hot on the tempeh, (I haven't made it that far down the vegetarian road...), but the cabbage was interesting;
--A basil, lime and tofu dressing; a sesame and miso vinaigrette, and another vinaigrette featuring umeboshi plums;
--A great vegetable stock that is more a concept than a recipe, (but will change--forever--the ingredients of your stock pot);
--Cheesy Greens and Rice Gratin, that uses Za'atar, garlic, tomatoes and brown rice;
--several recipes that turn a roasted/baked sweet potato into a meal;
--Chicken-fried cauliflower with a miso-onion gravy: Yeah, it works: Even if you roast your cauliflower and spoon the gravy on top;
--And last, but not least, the chocolate-chunk cookies with whole wheat flour, rolled oats and two sizes of coconut.
The recipes are written for an American audience, but there is a handy, readable measurement conversion chart at the back of the book.
I'm giving it a five star rating for those people who are single, who are busy, just starting out, in an apartment and those who don't own a shelf-full of vegetarian cookbooks. If you have a mountain of vegetable, grain and vegetarian cookbooks, you may want to think twice. But, I'll tell you what: Yonan has put together a great assortment of recipes; they are well-thought out and will allow your creativity to blossom. They will also energize you in such a way that you will bother to cook for yourself.
The "Look Inside" feature for this book is thorough and informative, but if you are still undecided about this cookbook, at least give it a try: Ask for it at your local library. There are worthy recipes here for everyone.
**I received a temporary download of this book from the publishers (through NetGalley) in exchange for a review.**
This book is designed to address both of these issues, as it is vegetarian cooking for one or two people. There is even a handy section that has a list of suggestions for recipes in the book to help you use things like a half of an avocado, or a half a lime, or 1/2 a can of beans, knowing that the biggest problem with cooking when you are single is the leftover ingredients.
The author includes a guide to using the book, and encourages readers/cooks to merely use the recipes as a guide, not as a rule book. I tried several of the recipes. The Fusilli with Corn Sauce (whole wheat pasta, sauteed onions and corn) was fresh tasting and easy to make. The Enfrijoladas with Egg, Avocado and Onion (corn tortillas coated in a bean sauce and topped with copped hard boiled egg, avocado and onion) was a surprising mix of flavors that actually worked well together, despite my reservations. But the best was the Roasted Sweet Potato with Coconut, Dates and Walnuts. Oh so good!
This book was filled with lots of pretty pictures that made everything look so tasty! The only real negative that I have is that there were several things I'm not big on like curry and tofu, and things I'm hesitant about trying like kimchi. So there were a lot of recipes that I didn't want to try right now-- but that's just me!
My final word: Easy recipes for weeknight dining. Interesting flavor combinations. Nothing ordinary here. If you are looking for some fresh ideas for easy vegetarian dining for one or two, grab this book!
If you do want meat, it is easy to add to many of the recipes (a few slices of bacon alongside the sweet potato, greens and kimchi hash for example). Unlike other vegetarian recipe collections, Eat Your Vegetables emphasizes just that - vegetables. While soy products make an appearance, Joe avoids commercially-made meat substitutes. Other proteins include eggs and cheese, which in many cases are easily omitted if you're vegan or simply don't like them. Joe also includes other suggestions to help out vegans (such as substituting miso for oyster and/or fish sauce).
Even more than in Serve Yourself, a great many of the recipes become components of other dishes and there are usually several options, e.g., for that big pot of tomato sauce you just made (I think it goes into as many as five other recipes, and of course you can use it on any pasta). As a result, my cooking sessions from this book have involved making several things for use in different ways throughout the week (hearty greens gave me a side to go with some sausage I already had, plus went into hash and the remainder in the freezer for the cheesy greens gratin and a few other things). Joe also continues the theme of how to use up or save leftovers and extras, which is extremely helpful if you're only cooking for one or two people but are stuck with grocery store bundles and packages designed for more.
It is also easy to double the recipes if, like me, you like to have leftovers handy for multiple meals or want to make a meal for two. As with Serve Yourself, I find that doubling the recipes gives me three and sometimes four small-moderate portions.
You will find new versions of "Classic Joe" dishes here, such as roasted sweet potatoes with various toppings - great for me as I love both recipes from Serve Yourself, additional riffs on kimchi, use of Asian and Southwestern US flavors/dishes and a wealth of interesting sandwiches (and I say this last as a non-sandwich person. Joe's sandwiches are always good). There is a lot brand new here as well, given the veggie focus, such as the savory tart ideas, nut butter and dried fruit sandwiches and additional desserts.
Finally, perhaps the thing I appreciate most about both of Joe's books is that he is the real deal (culinary school graduate, professional food writer) and I think that is why so many of his recipes turn out, for me anyway, to be the best version of whatever it is that I have cooked (hearty greens and tomato sauce with a kick being two examples from Eat Your Vegetables). While I have enjoyed recipes and cookbooks by others without that pedigree, I personally have found more "duds" among those collections and none among the many I have made from Joe's books. Similarly, unlike other "cooking for one" books, Joe's recipes are modern and innovative, even when they hearken back to American classic comfort food. Others in the genre seem to focus on scaling down, whereas Joe has really created an entirely new model (and yes, there are some politics around that BUT -- easy to disregard or, like me, you may devour the essays too, nodding all the while).
I love the recipes; they work, they are straightforward and they're delicious. There are lovely essays that will have you laughing and thinking about issues perhaps for the first time, or at least from a fresh perspective.
There are plenty of handy resources and advice for scaling up, or down, for food storage and preservation (including a fun way to approximate a vacuum sealer with one simple tool everyone has on hand!), even a resource guide.
If you can't have a good friend guiding you in the kitchen, you can approximate it with this great book. Buy one for yourself and one for someone you love. You may read my full review at Jacquelinechurch.com.