Vegging Out

(except on weekends)

Welcome to issue #28 of Susanality, a free weekly newsletter. Thanks for being here! If you’re loving this newsletter, please consider a paid subscription. Having your support would mean a lot to me, as I continue to work hard to bring you fresh content on a weekly basis with additional posts and recipes going out to paid subscribers at least twice a month. Thanks again!

This week I’m sharing a recipe from my friend Jenny Rosenstrach’s new book, The Weekday Vegetarians. She also writes a newsletter on Substack called Dinner: A Love Story, and if you don’t already subscribe, you can sign up or just read it here.  Jenny and I first met almost ten years ago when my book What’s a Hostess to Do? came out, and she interviewed me for her website. I also crossed paths a few times with her up at the Bon Appétit test kitchen when we were both freelancing there. 

Jenny has always written about feeding her family of four, which used to include plenty of meat. In fact, one of her most popular recipes has hardly met a vegetable— her Pork Shoulder Ragu, aka “Instant Dinner Party”. Jenny and her husband mused about what it would be like to become vegetarians, for their own health and the health of our fragile planet. By now, we all know that eating less meat can help in both of those areas.  Michael Pollan put it so succinctly when he advised us to “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. I always have this thought in the back of my mind. Best “diet” advice ever, and so simple.

A few years ago, Jenny and Andy decided to tiptoe down the road of vegetarianism, but without giving up meat completely. They vowed to eat meat (which includes fish and chicken) only on weekends, or when they’re guests at someone’s home. This vow became their new way of eating, with some modifications for their teenagers. This new way of eating became fodder for Jenny’s next book, which I think you will really like!

Reprinted from The Weekday Vegetarians. Copyright © 2021 by Jenny Rosenstrach. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Christine Han. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House

Clearly there is a lot of interest in the subject, since Jenny’s book landed at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list the week it came out, and I’m so happy for her, and for the interest this subject is generating!

I’m especially interested in Jenny’s new book since I’m working on a book with a similar subject. My book is about what to DO with all those amazing veggies from your farmer’s market, your CSA or that backyard garden you may have planted during the pandemic. I’m not becoming a vegetarian just yet (though I do have my days) but I let vegetables lead the way, and we try to reduce our portions of animal protein when we do have it. Every little bit helps! I find vegetables exciting and delicious, and I can't wait to share my ideas with you.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe from Jenny!

Jenny and I recorded a fun conversation on Zoom last week which will be in Sunday’s post for paid subscribers. Sign up here to if you want to watch it!.

PS - I wanted to remind you that all of the recipes in my newsletters live permanently here. You can also scroll through public recipes on my site or keep up with me on Instagram. Or better yet, you can support me by ordering my book, Open Kitchen.

Wheat Berries with Crispy Tofu, Grapes, and Arugula & Feta

Click here for a printable version

Serves 4

Twice a week I brave the hour-and-a-half commute from the suburbs of New York to Brooklyn to work at Cup of Jo, the lifestyle website run by enthusiast extraordinaire Joanna Goddard. I look forward to these days for the camaraderie and creative collaboration, etc., etc., but also because her office is in Boerum Hill, with access to the kind of coffee and take-out food that just doesn’t exist where I live. Even the chains are better: When plant-based Honeygrow (a Northeast DIY salad chain) opened up a few blocks away, I became obsessed with a magical combination of firm-buttender wheat berries, sweet grapes, salty feta, and spicy nuts. I ate the salad so often my office mates started ordering it, too, calling it “The Jenny Salad.” I talked about it so much that I ended up creating a—dare I say—even better version for my family back in the burbs. I always make extra so I have leftovers for lunch.

— Jenny Rosenstrach, The Weekday Vegetarians

Honey-Ginger Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger, or 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup uncooked wheat berries
Kosher salt
1 (14- to 15-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into ½-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 cups arugula
1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup halved red seedless grapes
1 medium carrot, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, minced (about ²⁄³ cup)
¼ cup whole shelled pistachios (I often throw in store-bought cayenne-spiked pistachios; look for the Wonderful brand)

  1. Make the dressing: In a small jar or measuring cup, combine the honey, vinegar, ginger, salt, and pepper. (Note: If you don’t have white balsamic, use white wine vinegar with a splash of regular balsamic. But don’t fully swap in regular balsamic, which will be too overwhelming.) Cover the jar and shake vigorously to combine, or whisk the ingredients together thoroughly in the bowl. Add the olive oil and shake (or whisk) again until it is creamy and emulsified. Set aside until ready to use. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  3. Add the wheat berries to a medium pot, covering them with water by 2 inches. Add some salt and simmer, stirring every 6 to 8 minutes, until the grains are tender, not tough. The cook time varies and can take up to 1 hour for the grains to become tender; I always start checking after 30 minutes. Drain the wheat berries in a colander and rinse under cold water, then drain again. Transfer them to a large bowl.

  4. While the wheat berries are cooking, toss the tofu with the olive oil, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Place the tofu on the prepared sheet pan and bake until golden and crispy around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

  5. Add the cooled tofu to the wheat berries, then toss in the arugula, feta, grapes, carrot, scallions, pistachios, and vinaigrette and serve.

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