When I think about foods that I grew up on, I automatically associate food with our 4 seasons: seasonal, local and fresh. That's how God created it and I believe this to be true. Traditional foods are the real, whole, unprocessed ingredients of our ancestor's kitchens. These simple foods nourished us for centuries, before modern food processing turned our health upside down.
Today, I desire to share with you a piece of my childhood, the salad I grew up eating during cooler months, and during Lent.
Ingredients for this salad is what we always had on hand so there was no need to do grocery shopping in order to prepare this salad. It was pretty much the produce we had available during the winter months. I still remember, how I had to go down into the dark cellar and find all the ingredients. As a child, it was quite an adventure but scary for sure.
Every person from one of the Slavic countries loves this vibrant root vegetable salad. I'm a big lover of beets and have already shared a few recipes for you to enjoy this earthy unique and good for your healthy vegetable. Remember food is medicine.
Vinegret or as the Russian people called Vinaigrette is a beautiful and delicious salad, and a popular comfort food in post-Soviet countries. Traditionally made with root vegetables, preserved (fermented) vegetables, and lightly dressed with extra virgin sunflower oil. It can be served year-round. Think about swapping out classic American potato salad with this recipe for your next BBQ party.
What do I need to make this salad?
Beets, red beets only for this recipe. When you are buying beets look for fresh roots: the freshest are the heaviest.
Potatoes, you can use red potatoes. Red potatoes are good for salads, but I recommend yellow/gold potatoes, they are my favorite, but either one will work. However, the exception is russet potatoes, because they just won't be able to hold their shape, for they contain too much starch.
Carrots, regular carrots.
Onions, red or yellow onions.
Beans or peas, when it's comes to legumes, you can choose whatever you have on hand. I like to use white beans. The size of beans and the size of chopping your veggies does matter: If you prefer to dice all your veggies into small size pieces then go with the smallest legumes. On the other hand, if you like a chunkier your salad, then go with larger selections such as lima or butter beans.
Pickles or sauerkraut, I like pickles, but either choice will be delicious. For the best health benefit, I recommend that you use fermented pickles. Look in the refrigerator section of your supermarket for these fermented foods and read the ingredients to make certain that no vinegar is listed.
Fresh dill (for garnish) is totally optional, but what kind of Ukrainian food is not garnished with dill. Right? Beside dill is available these days in every supermarket and is a lovely herb that is under-appreciated in the Western World. It is good for you and will make your salad look more authentic.
What do I like about this salad?
Complexity of flavors and simplicity of preparation is what I like.
This salad is a complete meal for it contains protein, starch and little bit of fat.
Tanginess from the fermented pickles to the sweetness from carrots and beets: It's delicious on its own, or as side dish for your BBQ.
Vinaigrette is definitely a make ahead salad. In fact, it will be better the next day or even up to the third day. With the allowance of additional time, the flavors harmonize and the raw onions, as they marinade, become less pungent.
This salad is incredible healthy
Along with probiotics and ton of flavor that comes from the fermented pickles your gut is receiving a generous supply of good bacteria in the form of prebiotics supplied from all the veggies. If you know me by now, I'm constantly researching about the benefits of good bacteria. Through my reading, I have learned that it is essential to feed your good tiny microbes in order to keep you healthy and thriving. I love fermented food, and I'm serving many types of ferments at family meals to assist in keeping them healthy. It's exciting to see my own body keep pace with what I've learned and how thankful I am that it responds so quickly. So, as I pass this on to you, my heartfelt desire is that it will help you too.
For those folks who claim that potatoes are not so good for you, think again for they are truly good carbs in the case of this particular salad. Here is why:
When potatoes are cooked with their skins and then consumed in cold form, the glycemic index is 35% less than in freshly cooked potatoes that are still warm. Once potatoes are cooled their sugars become resistant to human digestion, as the resistant starch travels into the gut be converted into short-chain fatty acids it feeds the good guy bacteria within your gut. Yes, resistant starch is a great prebiotic and is the type of fiber that plays a major role in digestive health.
How to cook veggies for this salad?
To save time, I recommend that you stagger your time by cooking your veggies a day ahead. The method of cooking is up to you, boiled is the most traditional way, but I found steamed veggies gives the best result. Not only is it better for you, but also the vegetables have a most vibrant appearance, because all colors along with all the vitamins are preserved. Another option is to bake your veggies, please see this post, how to bake and peel beets.
How long will last Vinaigrette Salad?
Refrigerator: Fermented pickles that we used in salad will help to preserve and keep salad fresh for up to 7 days. Store the beet salad in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator. The flavors will continue to develop as the salad marinates in itself.
Freezer: I do not recommend. Cooked potatoes, beets and carrots do not freeze nor defrost well. They will turn to mush.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Yield: About 12 portions
3 potatoes (cooked and peeled)
5 small beets (cooked and peeled)
3 carrots (cooked and peeled)
5 fermented pickles
1 small red onion
2 cups white beans (cooked or use 2 cans)
1/4 cup extra virgin sunflower oil
1/4 cup chopped dill for garnish (optional)
juice of 1 lemon or a few tablespoons of pickle juice
salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Start with chopping up your veggies, I begin with chopping either the potatoes or carrots. Cut your veggies the same size as your beans.
2. Use kitchen plastic gloves to chop the beets.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Mix all together. Give it a try and then if you prefer, squeeze on some lemon or pickle juice. Give your salad a final stir. Pour onto a nice serving platter, garnish with chopped dill and drizzle with some sunflower oil.
For ultimate flavor, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for few hours.