Yes, I am serious! I am going to be doing a cookery demonstration at a Russian event at my local library tomorrow. Oh, I do love a challenge!
I will be making Russian winter salads and one of them is vegetarian.
East European cooking is not famous for its veggie dishes. If you are a vegetarian or God forbid vegan, travelling to Ukraine, you are basically stuffed. It's all meat, meat, meat! That is until it comes to Lent. Russian Orthodox Lent is no joke. No meat, fish or dairy is allowed. So - heaven for the vegie-vegans! Every restaurant will have a Lent menu, though at not-so-religious people's houses your only option may still be a bowl of boiled potatoes.
The salad I would like to share with you is called Vinegret and it is a real favourite back home. Ask anyone from the former Soviet Union and they would have eaten this salad at least once this winter.
It is deliciously sweet and salty with some crunch from raw onions.
I am also submitting it to the No Croutons Required competition run by another favourite veggie blog of mine Tinned Tomatoes. This month's challenge is a potato salad.
Vinegret (Beetroot and potato salad)
(makes about 2 main course portions or 4 starters/sides)
2-3 medium waxy potatoes - boiled, cooled, peeled and diced
3-4 medium beetroots - boiled, cooled, peeled and diced (you can buy already cooked and peeled beetroots, make sure they are not picked in vinegar)
2 medium-largish carrots - boiled, cooled, peeled and diced.
1 medium onion - finely diced
5-6 medium cucumbers in brine - diced - do not bother with picked cucumbers - they are not the same.*
About 150-200g East European sauerkraut - again it needs to be salted NOT pickled in vinegar.*
One 400g tin of white beans in water - drained and rinsed.
A few good glugs of unrefined sunflower oil - very important - do not use the usual refined one. You can get unrefined oil in health and whole food shops.
Salt and pepper
Parsley leaves (optional) for garnishing
* I use cucumbers and sauerkraut made by a Polish maker Krakus. It's available in all Polish shops and at Sainsbury's and Tesco's too. The larger ones and certainly online.
It's all pretty easy - mix it all together in a large bowl. Garnish with parsley. You can eat it straight away, but it's even better after spending a night in the fridge.
Will let you know how it goes tomorrow.