Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Beet Salad: Unbeatable for Russian Orthodox Christmas

Beets are so good for you any day of the year. But January 7th is Christmas here in Russia, honest to Father Frost it is, according to the Orthodox calendar. Sounds like a good time for traditional Russian beet salad.

Not that this is a balanced meal ~ not by any means. But it is pretty, is it not?

So here's the tippy-top secret recipe. First we get ourselves some beets. They don't grow in cans, as I learned here in Russia. They grow from trees or maybe under ground somewhere. Regardless, beets are messy to cook and such, bleeding pink all over the kitchen. So do what I do. . .

On the street corners or near markets, find yourself a dear Russian babyshka who is selling cooked beets. Sometimes they're still warm. The beets, that is.

This nice lady, I need to get her name. She's my favorite supplier of beets.

Back at home, welcome to the laboratory. It takes my oatmeal 15 minutes to cook each morning and that's the perfect time to make big progress on something culinary, today it's beet salad.

My favorite breakfast: oatmeal with raisins. Later add a spoonful of peanut butter. Good 4 U! And for me, a favorite comfort food from childhood. That and frozen chocolate chip cookies, another story entirely.

Presenting: The beets. We're going to be grating these rascals. Not fun. Sometimes I grate several kilograms of beets and freeze most. Today we're doing beets for one little recipe.

Some walnuts, yes really. Chop them up, finely.

Garlic, either fresh or in jar there. One or two cloves of garlic. Probably two because why be the only person in town who smells faintly of garlic. Join on in with the rest of the gang! Oh, and by the way, in Russian a clove of garlic is called a tooth - actually a toothie, if I'm not mistaken. So get a hold of those little toothies and do the usual.

Mayonnaise. If you don't happen to have Rostov Mayonnaise such as we have here, not to worry. Just go with whatever you have locally. It'll probably work. ;)

Oh my, the oatmeal is always trying to boil over. Caught 'er just in the nick of time. . .

Back to the beets. Oh, here's a brand new riddle for you: What do you call Santa who spends his Christmas grating beets? Answer: A Beet-Nick.

Oy, oy, oy!

So now we have our grated beats, toss the minced-smashed-chopped garlic in there and the diced walnuts. Sorry the picture's not so super, but trust me, the salad will be grate. I mean great. In goes some mayo until it looks right, a tablespoon or two. Mix 'er up and. . .

Here we go, ready to taste. I'd say a little kick of flavor would be nice - a bit of orange juice in there. Would be interesting to add some diced up oranges, mandarins, citrus something, whatever's handy. Now of course we can't serve anything unadorned like this. This is Russia, after all. . .

And that means that greenery is a must - most often with a dollop of mayo or sour cream. Let's see, in the garnish department it looks as though a celery sprig will have to do. And that'll work for me.

Fortunately we've got some tangerines who volunteer to pose and add their own natural beauty. Orange you glad? ;) Enjoy your Beet Salad - it really is tasty and has such a nice texture.

Besides that, it's good for you. There's some good nutrition in them there beets. Thanks to Google, a quick search shows beets are a good source of folate and potassium. Well, I just barely scraped by in nutrition class, how would I know what that means? Well, Google to the rescue once again and now we know that those nutrients are good for the heart and veins, bones and muscles. That pretty well covers it.

Just keeping things real here . . .

I'm so glad I have a dishwasher. Mine is the two-legged variety and she'll be along here shortly to tend to all this.

Enjoy your Russian Beet Salad! And. . . Merry Christmas!


Christine said...

Hello Eileen!
I am always so happy when you share recipes! I will have to try the Beet Salad for our Ukrainian son (and the rest of the family too)!!! When I was little my mother and her family always made a beet salad with raw grated/ground beets, mayo,and garlic powder. Maybe we'll have the raw beets as a "summer salad" and Russian beet salad for "winter".
By the way, the "beat-nick" riddle was a good one... :)
Merry Christmas and Happy Happy New Year to you!

Tammy said...

I love this salad, Eileen! A personal favorite, actually! And you can micro the beets yourself & not so messy. Just "fork" them & put on for 15-20 minutes & it's pretty painless!
Monday I go back to try the RU visa think. Keep it in prayer. And I'll update you! Tammy

Anonymous said...


I've enjoyed looking around your blog these past few days. Your stories and photos have been a great way to learn about life in Russia. The cooking posts are great fun -- and remind me of The Pioneer Woman. Have you visited her site?

In Christ,
Lisa (North Carolina)

sophigirl said...


I was looking for this recipe and came across you blog - I can't tell you how much I am enjoying it! I will be a frequent guest from now on.
And here's a suggestion - where I am originally from (Bashkortostan) they put cut-up "chernosliv" (prunes) in this salad - maybe it'll provide that additional flavor that you were looking for?

Happy New Year to you!

Natashas Kitchen said...

You are funny, I am looking forward to checking out more of your blog. I just started a Russian/Ukrainian (mostly) food blog too. Thanks for posting this salad recipe!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this recipe! my grandma used to make this when I was a little girl and I haven't had it in years. I am so excited to have it tonight!

Anonymous said...

Even yummier with fresh dill incorporated in the salad. Sour cream over mayo gives a much fresher taste too!

Anonymous said...

This is delicious! I brought this to a cookout today because I had a bunch of beets to use up and everyone liked it. I think I even made a few new beet fans. I added raisins as well, but the salad was yummy even without them. Thanks for the recipe!