Vinaigrette – a Russian Winter Salad

He is called Father Frost or General Frost. He lives in Russia, and he could be very cruel, especially to those who do not show proper respect to him. He has defeated many invaders, from the khans, to Napoleon, to Nazi Germany. He likes to decorate fields and forests, covering them in pristine snow and sparkling ice. And he is not gentle to those who have no means to keep warm and eat well.

Marc Chagal’s painting Over Vitebsk depicts just such a person, a wondering Jew, poorly equipped to travel on foot through towns and villages covered in snow. He is disproportionally huge, symbolizing the entire Jewish population of 19th century Russia, persecuted and destitute, with no place to call their own. Yet, in the middle of merciless Russian winter, the warmth of Chanukkah lights gave them a glimmer of hope.

tumblr_lwmhmitqwg1qiyrilo1_1280

(Hanukkah, by Arthur Szyk 1948, collection of Yeshiva University Museum)

They did their best to dress up and rejoice on a holiday commemorating a great miracle of Chanukkah, but to prepare a festive meal, most of them needed yet another miracle – finding food. Latkes were made, of course, and mostly potato latkes, as potatoes were cheap and plentiful, but a seuda (a festive meal) should not consist of latkes alone!

vin 1.jpg

With typical ingenuity, they would gather the most easily obtainable root vegetables and beans, add either pickles or sauerkraut stored in cellars since summer, chop them up and dress them with some vinegar and maybe a little bit of vegetable oil, if they were lucky. In 19th century Russia, this nourishing and colorful winter salad became very popular not only among the poor, but also in the higher, even aristocratic circles. French was the language of the Russian nobility (the classic Russian poet Pushkin didn’t know Russian and spoke only French until the age of five), thus the salad acquired a name, Vinaigrette, from the French vinaigre (vinegar).

vin 2.jpg

What I start with, though, is mixing some olive oil with diced onion. My grandmother did it, and when I asked her for a reason, she explained that “it turns onions from angry to sweet.” Angry onions? But of course! They make you cry, don’t they? While your onions are improving their disposition, you can boil potatoes (unpeeled), carrots, and beets. There are many different variations of Vinaigrette, with red beans or green peas, with pickles or sauerkraut, and, most importantly, with or without vinegar that has given it the name. I prefer to include both red beans and green peas as they create a more complex combination of flavors and, at the same time, lend a color accent. I always use pickles (homemade, for recipe please click here), but sauerkraut is optional. This time, I just didn’t have it ready yet, and I find store bought variety overdone. And I do not use vinegar at all as I consider the taste of pickle quite sufficient to produce the same effect.

vin-3

Dice your veggies up, add your “not angry, but sweet” onion and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and don’t forget fresh parsley. Mix and let it grace your festive table for a happy and joyful holiday meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium or 1 large potato
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 medium or 1 large beetroot
  • 1 cup cooked red beans
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 3 -4 medium pickles
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • Optional: 1 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
  • A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Mixed diced onion with olive oil, put aside.
  • Boil unpeeled potatoes, together with peeled carrot and beets. Let cool.
  • Peel and dice potatoes, dice carrot and beets. Dice pickles. Add red beans and green peas. Add onions and olive oil. Add sauerkraut, if desired. Add parsley.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Serve garnished with parsley sprigs or salad greens.

Happy Chanukkah – enjoy!

40 Comments Add yours

  1. sebby holmes says:

    A real jewel of a salad and I love your angry onions tale 🙏

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, dear Sebby; I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Quite interesting – beautiful on the table – nice and nourishing for winter : ) ! amitiés

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much; I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brigittas says:

    А мне во всех словарях он попадался только как “русский салат”)Фото очень красивое.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Все, что я пишу, либо проверено-перепроверено из надежных источников, либо я так и предупреждаю: легенда, мол, и не берите всерьез. А фото – спасибо за комплимент, дорогая! Снято, как и все мои фото, телефоном, с помощью кота, который толчется рядышком и подталкивает под локоть.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Brigittas says:

        Я как разочень рада была найти как же записать название) Спасибо Вам большое за ваши рассказы и рецепты.. И за фото.Коту за помощь в фотографировани)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Всегда рада, и самому главному коту передам. Он у нас начальник.

        Like

  4. Until now, i’d never thought of onions as angry, but i see your grandmother’s point. This sounds like a great way to dress up a table with a salad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, my grandmother had a way of turning a phrase, and in Yiddish it sounded so much better, too. Thank you for a lovely comment, dear Mimi!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. spearfruit says:

    Nice healthy-looking salad Dolly

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, K! I had no idea you speak Russian ;))) privet . This is a staple of my household on weekly basis , but I never knew the can add beans to it👍🏻💐👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ну конечно, дорогая Людочка, и очень приятно получить от тебя комментарий. А в винегрет, в дополнение к картошке, морковке, свекле, и кислым огурцам или капусте, можно совать все, что под руку попалось. Всего наилучшего,
      Долли

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! So cool to see this in Russian. Thank you, Dolly! I will try your bean way next time for sure

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Why not in Russian? My English came into my head later, than Russian, chronologically speaking.

        Like

      3. I have it in reverse now 😉 and don’t have a Russian keyboard 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I don’t have a Russian keyboard either. I use Translit.ru that has equivalent of Russian to English letters. Don’t worry, be happy, darling!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh cool ❤️☀️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear Edward!

      Like

  7. Reblogged this on sketchuniverse and commented:
    😜🍲HELLO BEAUTIES! DO NOT STOP ADMIRING THE WORK BY MARC CHAGALL. I HAVE A FRIEND OF BELARUS AND SHE ALWAYS REMIND ME THAT THIS GREAT ARTIST WAS BORN IN HIS COUNTRY

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, darling! Unfortunately, when Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Belarus was not a country, but a part of the Russian Empire. I am sure your friend is proud of the fact that her country has finally achieved independence.

      Like

      1. You’re welcome. Congrats for the Art & Cooking Mix of your post

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I truly appreciate your lovely comment – thank you!

        Like

  8. oldpoet56 says:

    As always, I really enjoy your History lessons. By no means am I a Chief yet I think that even I can make this salad with these directions, thank you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear friend; I hope you enjoy the salad and think of me while you are sharing it with your lovely bride!

      Like

  9. oldpoet56 says:

    Forgot to mention it a moment ago, I am going to reblog this article for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging.

      Like

  10. Art and food…what a gorgeous combination. I love Chagall and Pushkin but didn’t know these details.
    We make Russian salad too in Serbia but it’s made differently there.
    Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Bojana. I’ve seen this salad made many different ways, but it’s always tasty, colorful, and nourishing.
      Have a happy holiday season!

      Like

      1. You too, dear. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. We still make a cabbage salad this time of year my grandmother used to make. Wishing you a Happy New Year, Dolly! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cabbage salad is always great, especially when it brings memories of a grandmother.
      Happy New Year to you as well, dear Anna!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for the recipe, I will soon try this very appetizing salad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Kerin; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s