There are several ways to vary Russian Beet Salad, which is also called “Vinegret,” though the constant ingredients are beets (obviously) and potatoes. Deliciously marinated, it’s a classic salad or side dish that’s traditionally served at holidays and special occasion, though it’s easy enough to make for everyday meals.
The sweetness of beets and the tang of pickles and/or sauerkraut complement another’s flavors, and potatoes add mellowness and heft. If you’d like a bit more background on this dish (and another version), you can find it here.
Serve as a substantial side salad with vegan burgers and grain dishes. In the cooler months, pair Russian Beet Salad with Lemony Bulgur Pilaf with Green Beans and Mushrooms. In the summer, serve as a side-by-side salad with Pasta Salad with Quinoa and Corn.
A few ways to cook beets
There are several ways to cook beets, some messier than others (but all a bit messy!):
- Microwave: Microwaving is the easiest and quickest way to cook beets. Rinse the beets and place beets in a deep microwave-safe container with a little water at the bottom — not more than a half inch or so deep.Cover and microwave for 2 to 4 minutes per beet (2 minutes for small beets, 3 for medium, 4 for large). This is a general guideline; best to start with less time and check for doneness, then add a minute or so.They’re done when you can just pierce them—and when cooking beets, try not to overcook.
- Stovetop: It’s best to use beets that aren’t too large if you want to cook them on the stovetop — otherwise, it takes quite a long time. Rinse beets and cut away all but an inch of the stalks. Place in a large deep saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until just tender. How long this will take depends on the size of the beets. Check after 15 minutes, but don’t poke too many test holes into them, or they’ll bleed too much! Drain and let cool when done.
- Oven roasting: Wrap beets (best to use medium or smaller beets for this process) snugly in foil. Place in a casserole dish with about 1/2 inch of water. Bake in a 400ºF oven for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the beets can be pierced through easily with a knife. Unwrap carefully, allow to cool, then peel and use as directed in recipes.
Finishing up the process: Whether you’ve microwaved, cooked, or roasted the beets, wait until cool enough to handle. Peel them over the trash or compost container, then and dice or slice as needed. To prevent discoloration of your cutting board, you can cover it with a piece of wax paper or parchment.
Using beets raw: If you prefer the vegetable raw, have a good knife and don’t mind having your hands dyed bright pink for a while, simply peel beets and dice (or grate) for adding to salads. Or, cut into chunks for juicing or to spiralize.
- 4 medium beets (red, or a combination of red and golden)
- 3 medium or 2 large golden or red-skinned potatoes
- 1/2 cup carrot or baby carrot, cut into approximately 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas
- 1/2 cup well-drained sauerkraut and/or dill pickle, cut into approximately 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup well-flavored vinaigrette dressing, bottled or homemade (see link in notes)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cook, roast or microwave the beets with your preferred method until they can be pierced through but are still firm. See the various methods above the recipe box. When done and cool enough to handle, peel and cut into small dice between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.
- If the potatoes are organic, scrub well and leave the peel on. If not, peel. either way, cut into small dice between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.
- Place the diced potatoes in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a rapid simmer, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to cook until the potato is tender but still firm, about 5 minutes longer.
- Plunge the peas into the water with the potatoes and carrots, then drain the vegetables in a colander. Rinse under cool running water until they stop steaming, then drain well.
- Transfer the potato mixture to a serving bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir together gently and thoroughly. Add the diced beets and stir gently again. See if a bit more vinaigrette is needed.
- Let stand at least an hour before serving to allow time to marinate before serving. If your kitchen is cool, you can leave the salad to marinate at room temperature; otherwise, best to refrigerate.
Here’s a recipe for Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, if you prefer to DIY.
Use fresh dill in place of parsley, but use a lot less — a tablespoon or two, chopped, will do!
Use about 2 tablespoons of chopped shallot or 1/4 up finely chopped red onion in place of the scallions.
Photos: Myviewpoint / Bigstock
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