Every once in awhile, I get a big craving for beets. The craving doesn’t hit me often, but when it does, I typically turn to my Vinegret (винегрет) recipe from The Ancestral Table. So without further ado, here is the text from the book:
Vinegret is the name of a Russian salad that is likely not of Russian origin, but rather borrowed from German or Scandinavian cuisine. In traditional Russian cuisine, salads were pretty rare. Vinegret is often cited as the first Russian salad, first mentioned in the 19th century.
Another Russian favorite is Olivier salad, which has a much more interesting history. It was invented by Lucien Olivier, a Belgian chef working in Moscow in the 1860s. The original recipe was a closely held secret and was never truly duplicated. Documents reveal that the salad likely included caviar, crawfish tails, aspic, and veal tongue. Over the years, these rare ingredients were replaced by common ones. Instructions for making Olivier Salad are also found below, as the method is similar.
Beet Salad – Vinegret (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Whole30, Vegetarian, Vegan)
1. Bring two pots of water to a boil. In one pot, gently boil the beets until they can be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes; in the other, gently boil the potatoes until you can pierce with a knife with little resistance, about 10 minutes. Separately, steam the carrots until softened, about 8 minutes. Strain and rinse the vegetables and allow to cool. Once cool, peel and dice the beets into 1/2″ chunks, using rubber gloves if you have them. Dice the potatoes and carrots into 1/2″ chunks.
2. Combine the vegetables with the sauerkraut, dill pickles, oil, apple, and vinegar in a large stain-resistant bowl, and mix together with your hands or a large spoon until everything is bright red. Season with salt and olive oil to taste. This salad will keep for up to a week and tastes better the following day.
*** For Olivier salad, omit the beets, olive oil, apple, and vinegar; replace with 1/2 cup diced ham, 1/2 cup hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 cup cooked peas, 1/4 cup cooked crawfish tails, and 1/4 cup mayonnaise.