Getting Back to My Roots: Vinegret

Before I get to today’s recipe, I just wanted to say “thank you” for your kind comments, emails and tweets about the new Simply Gluten Free Magazine! I’m thrilled to be an Associate Editor handling vegan recipes for the magazine.Β  If you haven’t heard about it yet, head over to the website to learn more! I’m really looking forward to the inaugural issue in November. πŸ˜€

And now, on to today’s food!Β  This is the dish that prompted me to want to explore my cultural heritage. I mean, my dad was born in Poland (I don’t speak Polish; never been there) and my mom’s family was originally from Russia (I don’t speak Russian; never been there), and it feels like high time I learned more about the different peoples from whom I am descended.

In fact, the closest ties I have with either of those countries is (a) the knowledge of a few corny (and decidely non-PC) jokes; and (b) a taste for Stolichnaya and a decades-old crush on Mikhail Baryshnikov, respectively.Β  This salad seemed the perfect vehicle to get in touch with my roots–both literally and figuratively–in a more direct way.

I first learned about Vinegret from one of the salad submissions in an old SOS Kitchen Challenge (the grandmammy of Wellness Weekend) on beets. Shame on me for not already knowing about it!.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came across a similar recipe (this time called venegret) on Stephanie’s blog. Stephanie pointed out that the salad hails from both the Ukraine and Russia, where it is pretty much a staple throughout the year. At that point, I could practically hear my ancestors’ voices imploring me: “Dahlink, just make it already!” (not sure how Zsa Zsa Gabor insinuated herself among my Russian ancestors, but whatever).Β  Besides, who can deny Zsa Zsa’s their ancestors’ wishes?

Although it’s not a typical summer dish, the vinegret certainly fulfils my intention to consume more salads this summer, and it would be a perfect dish to replace the standard potato salad at a BBQ. The original version features boiled root veggies (sometimes in the same pot, sometimes not), chopped, and tossed with a few accompaniments, including chopped dill pickles with their juices (other recipes include sauerkraut, which I added as well). Note that the entire thing is rendered a brilliant fuschia fairly quickly after mixing; I snapped the photos hereΒ  before allowing the vinegret to sit and the colors to meld.

I knew from the ingredient list alone that I’d love the vinegret (was it pre-programmed into my Polish/Russian genes?).Β  The combination of starchy potatoes, sweet beet and carrot with the pungency of the pickle brine (used here instead of vinegar in the dressing), the aromatic dill and sweetness of the peas was a perfect flavor medley for my palate.

I served this up to the HH without offering any genealogical background, merely stating that it was a “new kind of potato salad.” After some initial hesitation, the familiarity and allure of the green peas convinced him to give it a try. And that’s when I discovered the cross-cultural appeal of the vinegret as well: even with his own Scottish-English heritage, the HH was more than happy to polish off his plateful.

Of course, there’s still loads more for me to learn, but this dish was a good start.Β  All I can say is,Β  Spasibo, Zsa Zsa Grandma. πŸ™‚

I’m sharing this recipe at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Wellness Weekend this week.

Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (β€œWe love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)

“Mum, you know we can help you get in touch with those roots, too. . . we’re very good at digging in the garden.”

Last Year at this Time:Β  Chinese Scallion Pancakes, The Remake (gluten free; ACD Stage 3 and beyond)

Two Years Ago: Sweet Freedom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF version) (gluten free; ACD maintenance)

Three Years Ago: Crunchy Stalks and Branches (my version of “sticks and twigs”) (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)

Four Years Ago: Β (gluten free; ACD all stages)

Β© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. Maybe this salad will help me get over my fear (and general dislike of beets) with all the other goodies in the recipe. It’s an intriguing mix for sure!

    • Thanks, Karen–and thanks so much for your comment! πŸ™‚ If you’re not a huge beet lover, I’d actually suggest trying a raw salad first, or maybe this one, unless you already love pickles and sauerkraut (which I do!). πŸ˜€

  2. that looks so wonderful! i totally need to start cooking with beets. To be honest, i’m a little intimidated by the tough outer skin and having stained clothes, hands, and countertops. haha…this recipe may be just the encouragement i need to put on some old clothes, and have a beet party! πŸ™‚

    • Caralyn, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t stain my fingers making this! But I find the crimson fingerprints to be rather fetching, don’t you? πŸ˜‰

  3. Lovely recipe! I absolutely love potatoes, beets, carrots, sauerkraut and pickles, how could I not love this?

  4. This looks fabulous Ricki! I am a sucker for colorful dishes. Congratulations on the magazine. I have an enormous magazine addiction so I will certainly be reading.

    • Wendy, thank you so much! I’m the same way with magazines (and it doesn’t really matter what kind–trashy, pop culture, food, whatever!). Glad you like the look of the salad. As i said int he post, it does tend to turn all-pink after a while, but still a nice color! πŸ™‚

  5. love this!seems all tangy and delicious.

    what a great picture of the pups too.

  6. Such a colourful and healthy dish this is Ricki! A great way to use up Summer’s beets! But what I like most about this post is the picture of the girls. Gorgeous shot! xo

    • Thanks, Maggie! It was very colorful and tasted uber healthy (and delicious). πŸ™‚ Funny, the HH and I thought Chaser looked a bit wolf-like in this photo (while Elsie just keeps smiling. . . )! πŸ˜‰

  7. Oh Ricki, congratulations!!! I’m sorry, I’m struggling to keep up with reading everything in a timely manner whilst travelling, but rest assured in a few months I’ll be giving you a MEGABIG hug in person to add to these congratulations! xo

  8. I’m excited about your new editorial position, Ricki. It sounds like a great opportunity for both you and the magazine’s readers!

    The vinegret sounds like it was custom made for my husband as it contains many of his favorite things β€” pickles, sauerkraut, beets, potatoes. I’m going to send him a link to the recipe and see what happens. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, Andrea! I’m pretty excited about it myself. πŸ˜‰ And I’m so happy to be able to bring vegan, allergy-friendly foods to the magazine! And I’m intrigued by your last line. . . so, is that the way you “encourage” hubby to cook? πŸ˜€

  9. Ooo this is perfect – I love sauerkraut and I love veg-dense salads! Perfect πŸ™‚

  10. Hmm, but do you speak French?

  11. This salad look delicious especially for a warm summer day. You have such a cosmopolitan herigage. I made an Eastern European potato salad quite similar to this – but with a creamy dressing, capers and no sauerkraut – in my early days of blogging so I had to have a look and it was inspired by Mollie Katzen who I think has some eastern european heritage

    • Johanna, I certainly never thought of my heritage as cosmopolitan! Farmers and townspeople, mostly. πŸ˜‰ Your salad sounds great, too. I must go check it out! And I do think Katzen hails from Eastern European ancestors, too. . . .

  12. Ricki, I’m so thrilled to have helped to inspire you in your heritage exploration! I have never used sauerkraut in vinegret, but it’s a staple in my diet now so I’m super excited to add some next time. I’m impressed with your multi-colored salad photos, too – mine is always fuschia from the get-go. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much! Well, I mixed the salad components VERY gently in order to take the photo–it became fuschia-infused pretty quickly! πŸ˜‰

  13. I hadn’t heard of vinegret, but this recipe is right up my alley!!

  14. Sauerkraut is totally out of my comfort zone, but I need to jump out of that box and try this! It looks and sounds amazing! I have been juicing beets daily and love their taste! Excited for this salad!
    Cindy

    • I should point out that the sauerkraut is “optional” (but I did love it in there). πŸ˜‰ I think most traditional recipes don’t actually use it, in fact. In any case, thrilled that you love the beets juiced–one of my favorite ways to use them! πŸ™‚

  15. This salad looks ah-mazing! I love all of the ingredients in it. The steamed veg, the pickled veg, the herbs – everything in here looks so appealing. The combo makes perfect sense to me, too, is that weird? πŸ™‚

    And the mag looks like it’s going to be incredible!

    • Thanks, Sondi! I agree–the combo just sounded “right” to me. So, not sure if that means you are not weird–or we are both weird!!! πŸ˜‰

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