Vinegret is a truly wonderful combination of vibrant colors, soft and crunchy textures, and sweet and sour taste. It uses vegetables that are readily available in the winter to provide a vitamin boost. The word vinegret originated from the French “vinaigrette”, a well-known salad dressing. There is no vinegar in vinegret salad, despite what its name suggests. The main ingredients are beets, carrots, potatoes, sauerkraut, pickles, and green peas. Sometimes white beans are used instead of peas. Vinegret is a staple dish in many Russian homes; it is inexpensive to make and looks great on a holiday table!
A word of caution: sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) needs to be of best quality available, preferably bought at a Russian grocery store, or homemade (even better). I am yet to master the art of making sauerkraut at home, although I will definitely try it in the near future.
- 2 medium beets
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 pickles
- 1/2 cup (150 g or 1/4 lb) sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- 1/2 can (~200 g or 7 oz) canned green peas
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 tbsp sunflower or canola oil (may use unrefined sunflower oil to add a unique taste)
Place the beets into one pot, and potatoes and carrots into another. Add enough cold water to both pots to completely cover the vegetables. Bring to boil, and simmer until vegetables are tender. Check for desired tenderness periodically by piercing with a fork. Carrots will be done first, in about 30 minutes, then potatoes in about 40 minutes. Beets will take about an hour or longer, depending on size. Take each vegetable out of the pot when done and let cool.
Peel the skin off beets, carrots, and potatoes.
Chop beets, carrots, potatoes, and pickles into small cubes. Mince the onion.
Store-bought canned sauerkraut often has too much vinegar in it and tastes very sour. To remove the excessive sour taste, briefly rinse it in a strainer under cold running water, then let it sit in the strainer until water drips off. A better alternative is to buy sauerkraut at a Russian grocery store, or use homemade sauerkraut (recipe to come soon).
In a large serving bowl, mix beets with 1 tbsp sunflower oil. Stir to coat well. Then add carrots, potatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, green peas, and onion. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and mix well.
TIP: this salad will keep in the fridge for up to a week. If all of the salad will not be eaten right away, don’t add the onions. Instead, add some freshly chopped onions at the time the salad is being served.