August 14, 2013

Fifteen years ago I met Dennis. He didn’t mention the vegetarian thing on our first date (lunch at a neighborhood trattoria). Instead he ordered a pasta dish with tomato sauce that did nothing to telegraph the truth. It wasn’t long before I offered to make him dinner and that’s when he dropped the news on me. My friends, all of whom were familiar with my passion for cooking [meat], were concerned. “How can you date a vegetarian,” they asked? It didn’t seem like a deal breaker to me. In fact, I married him. Those first married months were challenging. I was totally bridal, planning elaborate meals, setting the table with all the new pretty things, and fussing about every night. Planning meals took a long time. It wasn’t that I didn’t eat vegetables; I loved all vegetables (except green peppers, and that bias persists). But vegetables had never been the focus of my meal planning.


Now, all these years later, when dinner is served the freshest vegetables of the season are the star. I may have pushed Dennis’ eating a little further, introducing him to okra and brussel sprouts, showing him that fresh pesto is a world away from the green stuff from the grocery store, and introducing roasting as a method of cooking. As my repetoire expanded, so did his palate. This has made for a happy marriage of omnivore and (as he now calls himself) a meat reducer. My fried chicken turned his head.

But I will admit to some recipe fatigue. The same old same old. Thank goodness for Joe Yonan’s wonderful new cookbook, Eat Your Vegetables. The perfect antidote to my ennui. Joe’s recipes are riffs on the tried and true – like his Cold Spicy Ramen Noodles with Tofu and Kimchee and Sweet Potato Galette with Mushrooms and Kale. There are others that blow my mind. Chicken-Fried Cauliflower with Miso-Onion Gravy? Joe’s Texas roots are showing! How about Potato and Bean Tostadas with Avocado Green Onion Salsa? This book has inspired a whole world of new ideas for making my vegetarian husband smile, and waking up my kitchen-creativity.


An abundance of poblano peppers in the garden led me to this fantastic, unexpected Poblano Tapenade. It’s salty, smoky, spicy, and goes with everything. It was all I could do not to eat the entire jar in one sitting, but with Joe’s encouragement, I held on to just enough to slather on a cheese sandwich the next day. Heaven. The last little tidbit was perfect next to a softly scrambled egg. I’m patiently waiting for more poblanos to ripen because this is a condiment I want in my refrigerator all the time.

Full disclosure – Joe is the Food and Travel editor for the Washington Post, so I work with him from time to time. He was kind enough to send me a copy of his cookbook, and to offer an additional copy to give away to one of my readers. Leave a comment below – tell me what dish you cook up for the vegetarians in your life before a random drawing on Friday, August 23.

Poblano Tapenade
reprinted with permission
Makes about 11/2 cups

8 ounces poblano chiles (2 to 
3 medium chiles)
1 tablespoon capers, preferably salt-packed
1/2 cup pitted green olives
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 anchovy fillet (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
3 tablespoons extra-virgin 
olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
Sea salt (optional)

Turn the oven broiler on high. Place the poblanos on a shallow rimmed baking pan and put it on one of the racks set so that the poblanos are as close to the broiler as possible without touching. Broil the poblanos until the skin has blistered and slightly charred all over, turning them as they brown. Transfer them to a bowl, cover it with a plate, and let them steam.

Soak the capers in a small cup of cold water for a few minutes, then rinse and squeeze them dry.

When the poblanos are cool enough to handle, slip off the charred skin and discard it. Remove and discard the stems and seeds and drop the poblanos into the bowl of a food processor. Add the capers, olives, garlic, anchovy, ancho chile powder, olive oil, and lime juice. Pulse until you have a chunky paste; it might seem too loose, but it will firm up in the refrigerator. Taste and add salt if needed. (If you used the anchovy, you probably won’t need any salt.)

Use what you want immediately, then transfer the rest 
to a small glass jar, screw on the lid, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

69 Responses to “eat your vegetables giveaway and poblano tapenade”

  1. Donna

    What a delicious idea! My go-to dish is a kale salad with brown rice and feta – and lots of garlic and whatever else is fresh!

  2. MD Smith

    Oh, ANYTHING poblano! I’ve been a fan since my days of cooking my way through Diana Kennedy’s Cuisines of Mexico! I must make this on Sunday after the Greenbelt Farmers Market!

  3. Cook In / Dine Out

    That tapenade looks really good! I’m not vegetarian, but more and more we eat vegetarian meals in our house to be healthy. Plus, this time of year, vegetables and fruits are so abundant (and amazing) that it’s hard not to fashion meals around them, since they’re so delicious. When we entertain vegetarian friends and family, I work to make the meal feel no less special than if it was meat-based. When my husband’s mom visited recently, for example, I made caramelized celery crostini, a salad of all green ingredients (arugula, grapes, cucumber, pistachios, herbs), beet gnocchi with walnuts and sage and a lemon-pepper strawberry shortcake for dessert. The vegetarian loved it and the carnivores didn’t miss the meat.

  4. Debby

    I love Joe and the food section staff at the Post! They are the best.
    My boyfriend likes meat, and is in no way a vegetarian, however, when I make caramelized onion and swiss chard enchilladas with homemade salsa verde he loves it, and doesn’t even miss the meat!

  5. bunkie

    Looks like a great book! Love your story!

    Eggplant parmigiana is my go to veg meal!

  6. Dre Horton

    Oh yum, how I do love poblanos! In the rare moment I do cook vegetarian, I make a pretty mean zucchini lasagna. I use zucchini as the noodles, and lots of goat cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs for the filling. Makes everyone happy!

  7. Lara

    That looks delicious! I’ll comment with something that my brother makes to accommodate the vegetarians in the family. He is an avid smoker (ie competition barbecue). For the veggie-only crowd, he shapes tofu into the shape of fish and makes a killer “meatless loaf” (chickpeas & assorted veggies and spices that gets smoked). Sometimes he even carves a slab of ribs into a block of extra firm tofu, then gives it some BBQ rub and throws it into the smoker. Every is part of the party!

  8. Arlene

    We cook mostly vegetarian at home and have many favorites but nothing beats chipotle sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with a spicy red gravy.

  9. Amy P.

    This looks amazing! I’d make black beans and rice. It’s filled with veggies and heavy on the spices. We don’t even miss the meat.

  10. Erika

    We love to serve sweet potato tacos–or a mezze of middle eastern dishes. Would love some new veggie centric inspiration!

  11. Deborah Tout

    This sounds heavenly. We grow poblanos in our garden, and I will have to try this. With most of our poblanos, we let them turn red and then make pepper jelly with half poblanos and half red jalapenos. It’s heavenly. My go-to vegetarian dish is stir fry with homemade tempeh and whatever we harvest out of the garden. We eat this almost once a week, and it’s different every time.

  12. Leslie D

    We love David Lebovitz’s eggplant jam. Once you get the eggplants, you’ll have everything else in your pantry! It’s yummy as a spread or with rice, pasta, or other grains.

  13. Karen

    Everything I cook is vegetarian because I am a vegetarian! I try to incorporate a variety of vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts into my diet as much as possible.

  14. Carey

    My spouse and I have been vegetarians for years. Along with the nutritional benefits, as a foodie, you become heightened to seasons and the variety and goodness of them.
    Some of our seasonal favorites:
    Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Feta, Olives and Pine nuts.
    Acorn Squash Fritters with Avocado and Cotija Cheese Chalupas
    Irish Root Soup
    Pub Style Vegetarian Chili

  15. Robin R.

    Joe is inspiring! We make vegetable lasagna with lots of mushrooms for the vegetarians at the family holiday party, and the omnivores love it too.

  16. Elyse

    I’m a mostly Vegan, my family meat eaters. It’s a challenge. My favorite sandwich, and theirs, is a roasted portobello mushroom with caramalized onions on a toasted ciabbatta roll spread with pesto( with no cheese). Its dripping and chewy and wonderful. I bet this poblano tapenade would make a great sub for the pesto. I can’t wait to try it!

  17. Zora Margolis

    Masa casserole with poblanos and pinto beans.

    Cook masa on the stove top like polenta, with salt, until very thick. In another pan, saute onion, bloom some ground cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano, add a chopped clove of garlic and chopped, peeled poblanos or canned green chile, cook until onion is completely soft. Stir the vegetables into the masa pot. Add cooked or canned, drained pintos. Pour into an oiled casserole. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Allow the dish to cool until it has firmed up. Cut into squares and serve warm, with chopped fresh cilantro and salsa verde or pico de gallo.

    • Zora Margolis

      The above is a vegan version. I actually forgot about the shredded jack or cheddar cheese I stir in and sprinkle on top.

  18. Helen

    I make lots of vegetarian meals, not because I have to, but because I just love vegetables. I recently made a chickpea, spinach & rosemary soup based on Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe from World Vegetarian. It is fantastic… but then so is everything in the book!

  19. Amy S

    Farro cooked in vegetable broth with a base of caramelized shallots & garlic, mushrooms, deglazed with white wine . Finished with a chiffonade of greens & a little chopped ricotta salata. Endlessly adaptable.
    Love reading these comments!

  20. Barbara sacks singer

    I make a Thai curry with coconut milk, pineapple, red peppers, mushrooms and use tofu puffs instead of chicken. It is delish and non-vegetarians love it too.

  21. Kiki

    I made dinner for a friend who just became vegan — I took my shrimp scampi recipe and substituted mushrooms for the shrimp and it was delicious. Also the best veggie recipe right now is gazpacho. Fresh, easy and DELISH!

  22. diana

    roasting vegetables is our favorite way to use what we get from the farmers market. cooking farro in the pressure cooker (to make ‘risotto’) is a new-to-me dish that has become a dinner staple.

  23. Melanie

    I’ve recently learned to make stuffed grape leaves–and our vegetarian friends grow grapes, so I have a ready supply of leaves. They have cheerfully made their way through my messy earliest efforts to the tight, classy looking rolls I can now create.

  24. Michelle

    Since I am the vegetarian and my husband isn’t my meals are usually pretty adaptable! My fav is always in the summer straight form the garden! Sautéed kale (or any mixed greens) cherry toms, onions, beans, garlic and lots of herbs in olive oil. MMMM! I add meat for my husband and share the veggie sauté with my best friend…my dog! Sans the onions -of course!

  25. Lisa

    My husband and I both became vegetarians several years ago and I’m so happy that the Washington Post food section has been including more vegetarian recipes (thanks – Joe Yonan!). It’s given me several recipes that have become staples for us.

  26. Kelly L.

    Black bean breakfast burritos with carmelized onions, yukon gold potatoes roasted and a fried egg with runny yolk.

  27. Kelly L.

    Black bean breakfast burritos with caramelized onions, yukon gold potatoes roasted and a fried egg with runny yolk.

  28. Lonnie Sussman

    I love veggies, raw, roasted, baked, sauteed and steamed. Roasting the beets, carrots and onion makes such a beautiful platter with great heaps of color. The markets are now carrying all kinds of rice with colors I never saw before. Color, color, color…tha’ts what helps make a vegetarian feast. Add the rice or pasta (maybe the coconut rice with dried coconut and coconut milk) or pasta with vodka sauce (tomatoes and a splash of vodka….pink color!) and fresh fruit and sorbets for dessert. Easy, pretty, healthy.

  29. Joan

    I go for udon with a spicy peanut sauce, topped with whatever veggies I have on hand sliced and minimally steamed. Usually accompanied by a seaweed cucumber salad from the Angelica Kitchen cookbook.

  30. Sue

    I’ll usually make a veggie lasagna. It varies according to the veggies I have in the fridge and what’s at the market.

  31. Sheli

    During the summer months I leave my grill pan sitting on top of my stove. I love grilling squash and zucchini and peppers and onions and anything else that looked irresistable at the farmer’s market (just a little olive oil, salt and pepper). Containers of grilled veggies are always in the frig, ready to be added to pasta (hot or cold), salads, sides or (my favorite!) grilled veggie sandwiches and paninis with maybe a little fresh pesto and cheese. Yummmmm….
    And for dessert, grilled fresh peaches.

  32. Marilyn

    Here in Colorado, we’re finally getting a good supply and variety of local vegetables and fruits and I’m lucky to live close to an organic farm stand. Yesterday I picked up corn, costata romanesco zucchini, onion, garlic and a gorgeous tomato. The vegetable ragout I made had great flavor and texture just from the vegetables seasoned with salt and pepper. I topped it with pecorino cheese and ran it under the broiler and served over grits. My favorite vegetarian dish is pretty much whatever’s locally in season, or freshest from the market!

  33. Sharlyne Berger

    I’m older, live alone and like making simple veggie meals. My favorite is a grilled eggplant, hummus, hard cooked egg and tapenade grilled sandwich.

  34. Shirley B.

    usually something pasta…grilled veggies or fresh marinara…olive bread…Cheese if they’re not vegan.

  35. Dorothea

    I often serve Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole with Melted Brie and Caramelized Onions, or Great Greens Pasta – they’re dishes that everyone loves!

  36. Linda

    Poblano tapenade sounds super! My veggie go to (in the summer when I have too much zucchini) is zucchini stacks – grilled or fried zucchini slices, layered with fresh mozzarella, with tomato sauce, with basil leaves tucked around or chopped and sprinkled over. Yum!

  37. keapdx

    I already have Joe’s Serve Yourself and would love to add the Vegetable cookbook. Roasted asparagus is a spring celebration and probably my favorite (unless I’m eating a different vegetable at the moment…)

  38. Allison

    We’re a vegetarian household and one of our favorite things to cook and eat are stuffed veggies. It’s so easy to saute some veggies and spices, mix in a grain, and stick the mix in a vegetable “dish” (we especially like squash in the summer) to bake.

  39. Juliette

    This looks so yummy, I bet you could even ferment it for added nutrition. I am not a vegetarian however love veggies, does that count? I do make a mixture of green and yellow zucchini with coconut oil and onion and saute till tender. Sometime even add some mushrooms to it too, it’s really yummy and my carnivore husband loves it too, win, win…hee hee. But, I would love to definitely incorporate more vegetarian dishes in our house, veggies are so good for you! And our meat these day’s unless grass fed is sub-par!

  40. NB

    We were vegetarian for many years and remain virtually so — exception when neighbor brings over fresh-caught salmon — so pretty much everything I cook is. (I make spouse cook the salmon). Some things we like to eat include pizza with sauteed kale & garlic as a topping (goes beautifully with the tomato sauce); eggplant parmesan, fried zucchini (dredged in flour and bread crumbs — good for breakfast or supper).

  41. Lisa Daniels

    I am the vegetarian in my life and in the past 8 months of eating this way have found that the key for me is not having go-to food but taking the time to prepare lots of different recipes. Some of my favorites this summer have been a middle-eastern lentil and rice dish from NYTimes, a watermelon-cucumber gazpacho, a polenta torta with chard and kale and chickpeas w/saffron.

  42. Savannagal

    There are no vegetarians in my family. But we do eat a lot of veggies. My favorite veggie meal is always a salad, full of a variety of leaf lettuces and mini greens, and all the goodies like carrots, red onion, radishes, nuts, dried berries and some shredded cheese. I could eat salad for every meal.

  43. john hutchens

    I love making quinoa and black bean chilli is my vegetarian significant others favorite dish

  44. Starla Pointer

    I love to combine equal amounts of rice and lentils with a sauted onion, chopped green pepper and/or hot peppers, shredded carrot and water or vegetable broth. It’s filling casserole-like dish that can also be used in stuffed peppers or squash. I add other vegetables sometimes and usually sprinkle some paprika on top to relieve the gray-brown appearance.

  45. Katie C.

    We try to eat at least one meatless dinner a week. One of my favorites is stuffed shells with spinach and riccotta cheese.

  46. Beth (OMG! Yummy)

    My hubby went veg on me for a while – I struggled and the kids were frustrated (I make fantastic braised meats) but he’s back on the omnivore train with us. But it did expand my repertoire a bit. Melissa Clark’s white bean stew is a winner, Indian Dal in the slow cooker is very soul satisfying, and my personal favorite – pasta with roasted tomato sauce and roasted veggies! That poblano tapenade looks fantastic. Happy 15 Cathy!

  47. theresea Q

    With cooking for teens I find it easy to keep it simple. Usually it’s five to six teens around in a time and stir fry or straight off the grill do seem to work the best for this group. I do like to try new recipes it changes things up. So,, this weekend guys you are gonna try poblano tapenade!

  48. Sarah

    This looks wonderful and I love just about everything Joe Yonan does. Pasta is the most reliable thing that you can serve to meat eaters without them feeling like they’re missing something. My favorite right now is orecchiette with corn, tomatoes, basil and feta cheese. It doesn’t hurt to put some bacon in there too but I guess that is missing the point!

  49. Mj Connelly

    I just discovered your website. I have been printing out your recipes and can not wait to try them. Off to the farmers market to by some POBLANOS, I will be making room in my garden for them next year!!!!!!!!!!

  50. kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

    I’m so glad to learn of a cooking omnivore happily with a vegetarian. My spouse has become vegetarian-while-deployed, and I’m not sure if he’s going to resume eating meat after he returns or what. I’m the cook, and while I frequently serve meat on the side, and I’m glad to switch to vegetable broth instead of chicken stock in my soups, I’m just a bit worried about how I’m going to plan meals for the whole family. But I’ve got plenty of time to figure it out.

    Meantime, I’ve got freshly roasted Hatch chiles–and I love anchovies–so I’m going to make this with a Hatch for Poblano substitution. Thanks a bunch!

  51. Carolsue

    I maked grilled vegetables, carmelized garlic mushrooms, and Chile Relleno Casseroles using the poblano peppers

  52. Whitney Lindeman

    I was a vegetarian for quite some time, and still eat what we call “meat on the side.” I like the term “meat reducer,” too! 🙂 Tonight, we made pizza quinoa stuffed mushrooms – so delicious!

  53. Lori S

    We eat a lot of vegetables, too. Currently, we are stuffing tomatoes with rice and other vegetables, breadcrumbs and topped with a little cheese!

  54. cookinginvictoria

    We are not vegetarians, but eat vegetable based meals about two-thirds of the time at our house. My favorite vegetarian meals at the moment are mujaddara (rice and lentils topped with caramelized onions and a herby yogurt sauce — see this awesome recipe on food52: and Deb Perelman’s mushroom bourguignon from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I also love roasting vegetables — my favorite vegetable to roast in the summer and fall is radicchio, which I top with an anchovy-balsamic vinaigrette. And in the summer I also love pasta with a homemade marinara sauce made with vine ripened tomatoes from my garden or greenmarket served with a shower of fresh basil. We also love grilled corn, topped with basil butter. I could go on and on . . . .

  55. Sandy G

    I like to sautee sliced beet in butter, then add kale, onion and a little lemon juice! Let cook until all is tender. Very yummy!

  56. Rebecca

    For the vegetarians I think I would make a delicious minestrone filled wtih beans, greens, peppers, onions, and some pasta. I would just have to remember not to use the homemade CHICKEN stock that I always have on hand….

  57. Megan

    Made this and loved it. Then as it lingered in the fridge, I added equal parts plain Greek yogurt for a delicious dip with tortilla chips. Thanks for sharing.

  58. Eileen

    What a wonderful recipe. We live in Mexico where there is an endless supply of beautiful organically grown poblanos. I made this recipe the first day it came on the website. We had guests for dinner and it was the hit of the evening! I made everyone guess what they thought the ingredients were……not even close, but all requested the recipe!
    Thank you Cathy for your garden and sharing this wonderful recipe from Joe’s cookbook.


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