Getting Back to My Roots: Vinegret
Before I get to today’s recipe, I just wanted to say “thank you” for your kind comments, emails and tweets about the new Simply Gluten Free Magazine! I’m thrilled to be an Associate Editor handling vegan recipes for the magazine. If you haven’t heard about it yet, head over to the website to learn more! I’m really looking forward to the inaugural issue in November.
And now, on to today’s food! This is the dish that prompted me to want to explore my cultural heritage. I mean, my dad was born in Poland (I don’t speak Polish; never been there) and my mom’s family was originally from Russia (I don’t speak Russian; never been there), and it feels like high time I learned more about the different peoples from whom I am descended.
In fact, the closest ties I have with either of those countries is (a) the knowledge of a few corny (and decidely non-PC) jokes; and (b) a taste for Stolichnaya and a decades-old crush on Mikhail Baryshnikov, respectively. This salad seemed the perfect vehicle to get in touch with my roots–both literally and figuratively–in a more direct way.
Then, a few weeks ago, I came across a similar recipe (this time called venegret) on Stephanie’s blog. Stephanie pointed out that the salad hails from both the Ukraine and Russia, where it is pretty much a staple throughout the year. At that point, I could practically hear my ancestors’ voices imploring me: “Dahlink, just make it already!” (not sure how Zsa Zsa Gabor insinuated herself among my Russian ancestors, but whatever). Besides, who can deny
Zsa Zsa’s their ancestors’ wishes?
Although it’s not a typical summer dish, the vinegret certainly fulfils my intention to consume more salads this summer, and it would be a perfect dish to replace the standard potato salad at a BBQ. The original version features boiled root veggies (sometimes in the same pot, sometimes not), chopped, and tossed with a few accompaniments, including chopped dill pickles with their juices (other recipes include sauerkraut, which I added as well). Note that the entire thing is rendered a brilliant fuschia fairly quickly after mixing; I snapped the photos here before allowing the vinegret to sit and the colors to meld.
I knew from the ingredient list alone that I’d love the vinegret (was it pre-programmed into my Polish/Russian genes?). The combination of starchy potatoes, sweet beet and carrot with the pungency of the pickle brine (used here instead of vinegar in the dressing), the aromatic dill and sweetness of the peas was a perfect flavor medley for my palate.
I served this up to the HH without offering any genealogical background, merely stating that it was a “new kind of potato salad.” After some initial hesitation, the familiarity and allure of the green peas convinced him to give it a try. And that’s when I discovered the cross-cultural appeal of the vinegret as well: even with his own Scottish-English heritage, the HH was more than happy to polish off his plateful.
Of course, there’s still loads more for me to learn, but this dish was a good start. All I can say is, Spasibo,
Zsa Zsa Grandma.
Vinegret (Russian Vegetable Salad)
I was a bit skeptical when I first dug into this salad, but after the first bite, I understood what the fuss was all about. With naturally fermented pickles (and juice), this salad provides a great hit of probiotics as well as a tangy, unusual flavor blend.
1 large beet, peeled and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 med carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup (240 ml) cooked peas
1 large or 2 med dill pickles, chopped fine
2 Tbsp-1/4 cup (30-60 ml) pickle juice, to your taste
1/3 cup (80 ml) sauerkraut, with a bit of juice (ie, don’t drain too well)
10 drops plain liquid stevia
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh chopped dill
2-3 green onions, sliced
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
fine sea salt, to taste
Peel the potato, carrot and beet, and cook separately (to retain colors) in boiling water until just tender, 10-20 minutes each (the beet will likely take the longest). Drain and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss lightly to combine. Add the cooled root vegetables and stir to coat with the dressing, until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve at room temperature or cold. Makse 4-6 servings. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 2 days.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan.
“Mum, you know we can help you get in touch with those roots, too. . . we’re very good at digging in the garden.”
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Four Years Ago: (gluten free; ACD all stages)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs