Russian Vinaigrette

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I can’t count anymore how often we made this dish! It is a Russian type of vegetable-salad and an absolute staple in our house. When we make vinaigrette, usually the whole family helps in preparation. A big bowl of vinaigrette is a nice family effort! The boys are helping to cut (and sample!) the vegetables, while the best husband and I do the peeling. Most of the time we eat vinaigrette just like that with a piece of bread. It is also nice as a side dish to grilled sausages, vegetables, cheese, etc., as part of a party buffet, or as a contribution to a potluck dinner.

One more comment about the relative amounts of the ingredients. There is not one correct way of preparing vinaigrette. In fact every family has its own recipe for preparing it. Even we vary our own recipe depending on the ingredients we have at hand or the mood of the day. We often use more beets, because he happen to have them, or less potatoes, because our little boy doesn’t fancy them, or we leave out the onion because small children are visiting. This is a very flexible and forgiving recipe! The picture above, for example, is our “baby-version”: no onions and greens, and the vegetables are cut into uneven chunks by little hands – but nevertheless, it was utterly delicious!

You need:

  • 4 red beets
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 small can peas
  • 4-6 pickled cucumbers (*)
  • small cup of sauerkraut – optional (**)
  • 1 small onion
  • bunch of parsley and dill
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • olive oil

How to make it:

  1. Boil beets, carrots and potatoes in their skin until tender. They can all be cooked in one big pot. Because the beets cook much longer than the other vegetables, we usually start taking out the carrots and potatoes earlier.
  2. Peel the vegetables and cut them into small cubes. The peeling of the carrots takes a bit of training and is, I admit, not my favorite task.
  3. Cut the pickles, onion and sauerkraut into small pieces.
  4. Combine everything in a large bowl and add drained peas, olive oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley and dill. Combine well but carefully!
  5. Serve with fresh bread or as a side dish.

(*) Russian cucumbers are typically marinated in salt water. They taste similar to the pickles used in the US. In Germany it is more common to marinade cucumbers in a mixture of spices and vinegar. Depending which kind of cucumber you can get (or prefer), I suggest that you compensate with the addition of vinegar or salt respectively.

(**) It is sometimes not easy to find good sauerkraut.  We usually add sauerkraut in the fall and winter when it is in season. Most of the time, especially in the summer, we prepare vinaigrette without sauerkraut.

Priyatnogo appetita!

This is my contribution to Veggie-Thursday, and siebenhundertsachen’s recipe collection.

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Borscht!

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I love soups, thick hearty soups. A good soup is easy and quick to make and gives a delicious and healthy meal. I guess it goes without saying that pretty often we have soup on our table. One of our favorite soups is the Russian borscht. It always contains red beet, but otherwise it is very versatile. It can be made as warm or cold soup, with meat or as vegetarian dish. Here is how we make it as warm hearty soup.

For a big pot of soup you need (of course, you can freely vary the amount of all ingredients!):

  • 2 big red beets
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 celery root
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • ca. 3 carrots
  • 2 liters beef stock with meat
  • parsley, dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • oil
  • sour cream
  1. Prepare beef stock by boiling meat with bone for several hours. We use a slice of beef shank with bone, which is a relatively inexpensive meat, even when purchased in organic quality. Alternatively you can use ready made stock or vegetable broth.
  2. Skin and shred red beets and sauté in oil with sugar and vinegar for ca. 30-40 min or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile skin and cut into cubes celery root, parsnip and potatoes, and add to beef stock.
  4. Add sautéed red beet to beef stock.
  5. Sauté onions and shredded carrots in oil until tender. Add to beef stock when potatoes and celery are almost tender.
  6. At the end, when  all vegetables are tender, turn off the heat and add finely chopped parsley, dill and garlic. Let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Poor into plates, add a spoon full of sour cream, sprinkle some chopped greens and serve with bread.

Priyatnogo appetita!