A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine


No, this is not a dressing, this is a full salad. This popular Ukrainian dish can be served at all times throughout the year (a big deal, because it’s hard to get fresh fruit and some veggies during the winter). Nine times out of ten if you are invited as a guest in a Ukrainian home, a vinaigrette will be served. It’s delicious, very filling, and easy to make (although time consuming to dice all the vegetables). Here is the recipe I recommend (the recipe I followed is in parentheses). Both versions are modified slightly from the official recipe I looked up.

You will need:

  • 5 beets (I used 4)
  • 3 carrots
  • 5 potatoes (I used 6)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 dill pickles
  • 1 lemon
  • roughly 1/3 cup of oil
  • about 1 tablespoon salt
  • some pepper or spice

The first task is to scrub the bejeezus out of your veggies. Unlike in America where your produce is washed and sparkling, vegetables here look like they were just plucked right out of the ground and put on display (in fact, this is probably exactly what happened, as produce is all grown fairly locally and quite organically). For example, this is what a beet looks like in the store:

Versus after I cleaned it:

Now boil the beets, carrots, and potatoes together. After 15 minutes, take the carrots and potatoes out, and after another 20 minutes, remove the beets. Peel and dice. Also dice onion and pickles and mix all vegetables together in a large bowl.

The vegetable stock can be used again later for sauce or broth, by the way. (And yes, orange juice is sold in bottles here, although I prefer to buy it in cardboard containers.)

Here I must interrupt to point out that beets are just so wonderful to cook with! They are silky smooth all the time and taste delicious. Watch out, though, because they stain everything, like hands, clothes, and cutting boards.

Continuing with the vinaigrette: squeeze as much juice out of the lemon as you can and combine with the oil (there should be roughly the same amounts of both). Add salt and whatever pepper you have (Joy, the previous tenant, left me this strange pepper mix with sesame seeds, oregano, and other spices I can’t identify in it, so needless to say, I didn’t use too much of it, but it worked ok). Mix all together. The whole thing should turn a reddish purple because of the beets. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

This recipe makes a HUGE amount of food– enough to easily serve 10-12 people. Here’s a picture next to my JDC mug, to give you perspective.

Приятного апетита! Priatnovo apetita!

As a side note, shout out to Heidi and Ben for buying me a Russian cookbook!!


1 Comment»

  Lara Hershbein wrote @

Look at you Miss. Culinary Queen!

It looks like you’re having a cultured, in-depth experience and I must commend you for your vivid descriptions. 🙂

Miss you!

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