Friday, July 16, 2010

Russian Beet Salad…or something like it

Serves 4-6


I’m starting to be up to my ears in beets. This is a good thing. I would probably eat beet roesti everyday, but lately it’s just been too freaking hot to want to turn on the stovetop or the oven. Slow cookers, of course, are a good solution, as are toaster ovens—they don’t let off too much heat, and they’re more energy efficient that using a full-size oven. Long story short, a Russian Beet Salad appeared in my mind a few days ago and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But the question was: which Russian Beet Salad? I looked online and found about a thousand different versions, so I went to the source, my Ukranian friend Olga. Well, I guess I shouldn’t have bothered because I completely ignored her instructions, mostly out of lack of ingredients, but also the constant need to adapt foods to my husband’s “needs”—ie., his desire for substantive heartiness in all foodstuffs. Here are her instructions, if you want to be more authentic than I: “I put cooked beets, potatoes (cooked), carrots (cooked), pickles (lots), salt (to taste), sunflower oil (or similar oil but not olive).” Try as I might I just couldn’t get over the idea of using yogurt instead of oil (blame the internet for planting the seed in my mind). So without further ado, my bastardized version, which has maybe existed somewhere on the Asian continent in the past 400 years:

4 beets

1 medium russet potato

1/2 red onion, minced and soaked in water 5 minutes

1 hardboiled egg, chopped

2 Tbs minced fresh dill

1 dill pickle, minced

1/2-3/4 C plain yogurt

1 Tbs white vinegar

Salt, pepper to taste

Preheat toaster oven to 425 degrees. Wrap beets and potato in foil and pierce all over with a fork. Bake under tender—about 45 minutes for the beets and 60 for the potato. Let cool completely, then peel and dice. I’m totally enamored of how cooked beets literally do SLIP out of their skins. It’s a culinary cliché, but in this case it’s really true. Mix all ingredients and chill until serving time. I actually ate some of the leftovers today over a spinach and butter lettuce salad, with an improvised lemon vinaigrette, and it was really excellent.

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