When you eat something from childhood, it becomes nostalgic and you love it all your life. That’s what this Vinegret – Винегрет – Russian Beet Salad is to most Russians. We love this salad. Period.
A few days ago my phone was stolen. Yes. It finally happened to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything stolen except my brother, who would eat my piece of pie or something silly like that. There’s also those random times things are taken, like a seat at DMV if I get up to take a brochure to help keep me busy while waiting. But that doesn’t count. So here I am, without my phone. Of course, it’s somewhere out there in a stranger’s hand without password protection. I’m grieving about my collection of music and the last food photos I haven’t shared yet. How can I live without telling somebody what I ate and what I cooked! What a challenge.
To be honest, I didn’t realize how much we’ve become attached to our phones. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. My friend sees it as a perfect match of robots and humans, that it is only natural for us to become more and more “mechanical”. After all, it’s useful and can make us more productive. I was missing my navigation for sure, and my photos. I’m one of those people who take pictures all the time. I can’t get enough of the beauty of everyday life and love to capture my favorite moments. And there’s a lot. Losing this opportunity sort of woke me up. It has made me appreciate it even more.
Well, the last pictures on my phone were pictures of taking pictures of this recipe. When my friend asked me what am I doing, I sent her photos of taking photos. Not a big deal! Geez. Does it sound ridiculous? To me, it does when I talk about it.
Винегрет – Russian Beet Salad aka vinegret is a very traditional Russian dish.
While the name can lead you to believe it uses a vinaigrette dressing, it doesn’t. Because vinegar has nothing to do with it unless it is referring to the brined ingredients in the salad, the sauerkraut (try our raw kraut recipe here) and the pickles. Vinegret is the name of the salad, not its dressing.
Russian Beet Salad is made mainly of autumn vegetables. Fresh vegetables were often scarce and our ancestors used to make foods from what they had, unlike today where you can go to the market and get authentic ingredients from all over the world at any time of the year. People used to harvest fruits and veggies over the summer and pickle and can it for the winter, while root vegetables kept for a pretty long time in a cold basement. This recipe requires those simple ingredients they had.
It is served during any celebration whether it’s a birthday, New Year’s Eve, a wedding or a social gathering. They say it is served as an appetizer, but to be honest, I have never witnessed a Russian eat just a little bit of it. Usually, they eat a full bowl. Personally, I don’t require or want anything else with this salad. Well, maybe a slice of cheese, LOL.
With its bright color Russian Beet Salad has a unique flavor and makes a beautiful presentation. It rarely misses a party or a celebration!
- 3 medium potatoes
- 3 medium beets
- 3 carrots
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can peas
- 2 large dill pickles
- 1 small onion
- 1 cup raw sauerkraut (see our raw kraut recipe here)
- 1/4 cup each of your favorite greens such as parsley, dill, and scallions
- Sea salt and fresh, coarse ground, black pepper to taste
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Wash vegetables thoroughly. Do not peel them.
- In a large pot cover vegetables with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a gently simmer and cook through, but not too soft. About 20-30 minutes. Some vegetables will cook faster than others. Check them with a knife by piercing gently. It should go through, but do not overcook the vegetables.
- Remove the cooked vegetables as they are done – carrots, potatoes, then beets. Set aside to cool.
- Once they have cooled, peel the skin and cut into small cubes. Try to make them the same size.
- Chop pickles and onion.
- Add the remaining ingredients.
- Add salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Gently combine the ingredients and serve.
- Do not peel the vegetables. This ensures the flavor stays in the vegetable rather than going into the water.
- This salad tastes even better the next day when all the ingredients have cooled and melded together.
- Please note, this is a large batch!