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Vinegret - Jazzy Holiday Salad

Monday, December 6, 2010

Without vinegret, a winter vegetable salad, Russian traditional table is missing one of its important  components. As far as I remember my precious self, vinegret (please do not confuse it with vinaigrette - a dressing made of oil and vinegar)was always in my mama's festive winter menu, especially on New Year's eve. Colorful, refreshing and tasty (at least to Russian palate :), vinegret was a focal point among many other viands. Let's get started...

What you need:
Oops - forgot to put cucumbers in the picture... :)
3 packed cups of good quality sauerkraut
4  medium (or 6 small) beets, boiled in skins,
peeled, cut in 1/2" cubes
2 medium carrots, boiled in skins, peeled,
also cut in 1/2" cubes
3 medium pickled cucumbers, diced
2/3 green apple, peeled, and cut in 1/2" cubes
1/4 big red onion, finely diced
2 medium potatoes, boiled in skins, peeled,
and cut  in 1/2" cubes
4-5 tbsp sunflower oil (better not refined)
Salt to taste

Fold cubed beets in 3 tbsps oil and set aside. This will prevent beets to bleed a lot in your salad. 
If sauerkraut looks too coarsely cut, shred it a little more with a sharp knife to make finer pieces.

Mix sauerkraut, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, apple, and onions, taste for salt. The very last to go are beets in oil. Gently mix beets into your salad. See how it looks - there should be a little oily shine to it. So add just a little more oil if you think it is necessary. Arrange a  beautiful mound of vinegret in a festive salad bowl, chill a little in the fridge, and serve. Enjoy the most jazzy salad on the planet!

Some people add sweet canned peas to vinegret, but I prefer to follow mostly  the reds palette, with increments of green cucumber pieces.
This salad can be stored in your fridge for 2-3 days, but it will get redder; the beets will eventually color all vegetables, but the taste will not worsen.
Please do not boil your vegetables to death: they should be soft to the fork, but not falling apart. 
Proportions for this salad are very approximate. Some people like more beets, some like more sauerkraut, and so on. The only thing that should be present is a certain amount of sharpness/sourness, and good quality well fermented sauerkraut defines the end product.
Vinegret is not only beautiful, but also a very healthful food. It gives you a lot of fiber, good bacteria, and micro elements. 

When I eat vinegret at a holiday table, I feel a boost of energy and an irresistible urge to dance, dance, dance...

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