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Cookbook Review

‘Eat Your Vegetables,’ a healthy plate

The commonsensical recipes in “Eat Your Vegetables” have been fixtures in print journalism for years, first at the Globe, and now at The Washington Post. Joe Yonan’s popular “Cooking for One” column spawned a practical singles cookbook, “Serve Yourself.” And while it may be a cliche for a cookbook author to turn vegetarian and write a vegetable cookbook at a certain point in their career, this volume is no less welcome for it.

Like its predecessor, most of these recipes are scaled for one. I tested some as indulgent lunches just for myself, others I scaled up for the family to a more typical serving of four. Because the recipes emphasize winning flavor combinations rather than precise quantities, I found them flexible and forgiving. But because I fiddled around with the yields, you should probably lay the responsibility at my feet if your results vary.

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One secret here is the surprise application of curry powder, which the author introduces into a couscous salad with tiny, broiled broccoli florets and a boost of texture and richness from a couple of other secret weapons: chopped cashews and some “quick-pickled” golden raisins. Curry strikes again in mushroom bean burgers, which are among the most decadent vegetarian burgers I’ve ever had. Is it worth it to have to fry them in ¼-inch of oil after cooking the beans, mashing the filling, chilling it, shaping it, and baking it? I’m not sure. But if there’s another way to get a crust on those patties, they’ll be a weeknight staple on my list.

Kale and caramelized onion quesadilla, which originated as an inspired mashup of leftovers, is good enough to make from scratch, even if the caramelized onions oblige you to sit around in an increasingly fragrant kitchen for a while as your stomach rumbles. Also worth the wait is a single-serving roast sweet potato. It’s just the usual foil-wrapped tuber, but when it comes out, it’s showered with an irresistible confetti of coconut, dates, and walnuts. Coconut oil takes the place of butter, and the whole thing suddenly turns into an impromptu tropical
party.

Sometimes even a simple gesture is enough to make you sit up and take notice. The sauce for roasted cauliflower and green beans is nothing more than the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles, mixed into yogurt. But it makes all the difference to what might otherwise be a humdrum side. A single-size portion of homemade baba ghanouj makes a chickpea pancake sing; you’ll wish you had some baba left for pita chips.

Chocolate chunk cookies rock the boat, gently, with coconut and pecans inside. The recipe calls for giant cookies the size of your face. We went for more decorous palm-size treats, but they were good enough so we ate three anyway.

While it may be tempting to punt when you’re only cooking for yourself, Yonan, to his credit, never does. Although his ingredients are global, he rarely crafts a dish in a single ethnic idiom, preferring to mix and match until he arrives at his own world-on-a-plate version. For now, that’s just one plate. In the meantime, we’ll wait patiently for an even more useful sequel: “Serves Four, Including Picky Kids.”

T. Susan Chang can be reached at admin@tsusanchang.com.
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