Food is an oh-so-important part of Russian life and culture. And I’ve eaten LOTS of it in the past 17 years. Each time I’m invited to someone’s home for a meal, she goes overboard to please (and, perhaps impress) me with her cooking skills. One happy result is a growing collection of authentic Russian recipes that I have successfully prepared here at home. Thanks to Susan Gaddis for encouraging me to publish these recipes here. Check back often for updates.
RUSSIAN SALAD RECIPES
The secret to the tasty freshness of a Russian salad is chopping everything up in small pieces…around the size of a green pea. And don’t put the dressing on until you are ready to serve it. When I make these Russian recipes, my guests always clean their plates.
Red Bean and Beet Salad
Combine the following:
1 can red beans/ 1 green apple, diced/2 cooked beets, diced
Toss with olive oil, a little sugar, and salt to taste
(I know it sounds weird, but really – it’s good!)
Summer chicken salad
Combine the following:
1 hard cooked egg, diced/ 1 cup cooked chicken (or turkey) diced/ one-half peeled cucumber, diced/ one-half cup diced prunes/ one-fourth cup chopped nuts (your choice)
Just before serving, toss lightly with plain yogurt and salt to taste.
Nina Vasilievna’s Summer Salad
For the dressing: equal amounts of mayo and plain yogurt and lots of fresh dill (snipped into small pieces, of course). As with all Russian salads, the amount of dressing should be light – just enough to hold the ingredients together. Garnish with more fresh dill, a sprig of Italian parsley and some cherry tomatoes.
* the original recipe calls for “slighted salted salmon” (lox?). I liked the smoky flavor of the smoked salmon. Poached salmon would also work. Not sure about canned salmon. Maybe if it’s the “pink” variety. The flavor should be mild so as not to overpower the salad.
Olga Orlova’s Chicken Salad
1 lb of smoked chicken / 2 med fresh tomatoes/ 1 med green pepper / 1/2 lb grated guyere cheese / 1 sweet onion / mayo / seasonings: poppy seed, pepper, and fresh dill. salt? (you decide)
Chop everything into pea-sized pieces. Blend in mayo just enough to lightly coat. The ingredients alone are moist, so you don’t need much mayo. Season with dill and poppy seed, salt and pepper to taste.
Egg “Salad” or…Deviled Eggs Russian Style
Place a dozen large eggs in a pan of water. Bring water to boil and let boil for 10 -12 minutes. Remove from heat, cool eggs under running water and peel. Put eggs in refrigerator to get cold.
Blend the following into a dressing and chill:
1/2 cup mayo; 1/4 cup sour cream; 2 small cloves of garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp hot mustard; 1/4 tsp salt
Just prior to serving:
Slice the eggs lengthwise (like deviled eggs) but don’t remove the yolk
Put the dressing in a baggie, then snip a tiny hole in one corner so you can squeeze out strip of dressing (like toothpaste) along the length of the cut egg.
Garnish each egg half with chopped scallion tops and a little bit of grated carrot. (Yes, the presentation is important!) These are beautiful and oh so tasty.
Tanya’s “Hawaiian” Salad
Combine equal parts of: Cooked chicken breast/Grated cheese (your choice. I used cheddar & jack)/Chopped Krab (yes, the fake crab)/Canned pineapple – the small tidbits, well drained.
Toss with mayonnaise. Serve immediately
Everyone’s “No Meal is Served Without It” Salad
Combine: fresh diced tomatoes, fresh peeled and diced cucumber, a couple chopped green onions, fresh dill.
Toss with sour cream. Some people like olive oil instead (not me).
Salt to taste.
Nina Alexandrovna’s White Bean Salad
Combine: 2 cans garbanzo beans, well drained/about a cup of cheese in 1/4- inch cubes/2-3 cloves of minced garlic/parsley/ fresh dill
Toss with mayonnaise. Then at the very last minute – Add about 3/4 cup of rye bread croutons. This is the secret ingredient. Let me know if you can find rye bread croutons. You might have to make them yourself. Be sure to use the dark (black) rye bread.
Galina’s Crab Salad
Combine the following ingredients:
4 – hard boiled eggs, chopped /1 pkg krab or better, a pack or two of real crab meat, chopped/4 cups of cold cooked white rice, well rinsed and separated/1 small can of corn, well drained or equiv. amt of frozen corn/1/2 red onion finely minced/”a lot of green things” such as dill and parsley/1 T of lemon juice
Just before serving, toss very gently with ranch dressing or mayo that has been thinned with a little milk, using 2 wooden forks. Remember, to be authentic, you must chop all the ingredients to be about the same size as the corn kernels. And don’t let the dressing overpower the ingredients like we tend to do in America. Just use enough to hold the mixture together lightly. This is a GREAT summer salad — hearty enough for a meal.
This salad was the first thing ever served to me in a Russian home–and I even got to participate in the preparation (an unusual occurrence to allow a guest into the kitchen while cooking.) It does require some planning as you have to boil some of the ingredients and let them cool. But believe me, it’s worth it. This recipe works for vegans.
Combine the following ingredients: 5-6 small Yukon gold potatoes, cooked , peeled and chopped into 1/4″ cubes/ 3 carrots, boiled, scraped and chopped / 1 or 2 beets, boiled, peeled and chopped/1 small onion, minced/1 large or 2 small dill pickles, minced/1 large tomato, chopped/some fresh sauerkraut, rinsed, drained and chopped up.
Season with salt, pepper and fresh parsley. Toss with olive oil just before serving.
Tanya’s Winter Salad
This is called winter salad because you use pickles instead of fresh cucumbers–but don’t wait until winter to try it! It’s pretty much the Russian version of our potato salad, but better (I think) and more of a meal. Tanya and I made it together when she visited us in October of 2007. Come back, Tanya!
2 cups of cooked ham, diced into 1/4″ cubes (I use the “Cooks” brand ham slices–just the right thickness and good quality ham)/4-5 boiled Yukon gold potatoes. Let cool and cut into small cubes/2 large carrots, boiled, scraped, cooled and chopped/dill pickles, minced/ 2-3 hard boiled eggs, minced/about 1/2 cup minced onion or chopped green onion/1 small can of green peas, rinsed and drained.
Just before serving, toss with a combination of mayo and sour cream. Salt to taste.
Eaten with gusto all year round. Even for breakfast. A good Russian woman would never dream of serving soup from a can or a box. These Russian recipes will warm your tummy and your heart!
Natasha Ivanovna’s Mushroom Soup (Opyata)
Saute 1 lb of sliced mushrooms in butter for about 10 minutes. I use the darker mushrooms as they have more flavor. Add 1/2 cup of shredded carrots and 1/2 cup diced onion and cook for 10 more minutes. Pour in COLD water to just cover and bring back to a boil. Add about a cup of peeled, cubed potatoes and cook until tender. Just before serving, add fresh parsley and salt to taste. Total cooking time is about 30 minutes. It’s easy and so delicious. You can add a dollop of sour cream to the bowl if you like. The main thing (says Natalia Ivanovna): put your heart into it.
Jeanette’s Borsch – Moscow style
Put about 2-3 lbs of beef w/ bone (chuck roast, beef shank, or back ribs if you are desperate) into a pan with 9 cups of water. Bring to boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, clean and peel 3 medium beets. Cut in half and add to pot along with 1 to 1 -1/2 T of salt after the 30 minutes is up. Simmer for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the rest of the vegetables:
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced into cubes; 1 carrot peeled and grated or chopped; 1/2 head white cabbage, rinsed and shredded; 1 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped.
When the beets have simmered for 10 minutes, remove them from the pot and add all the other vegetables. Chop or grate the beets and add them back in.
Stir in 6 T of tomato paste, 4 black peppercorns, 2 T of white vinegar, and ground pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes.
After 90 minutes, remove from heat, add a bay leaf, and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the meat bone(s) and any connective tissue, etc. Put the soup in a container and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim the hardened fat from the top, reheat and serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill. You will cry it tastes so good.
Okroshka (Cold Kvass soup)
This soup is fabulous in summer.
Combine: 2-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped/ two Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, peeled, and chopped/ a few green onion tops/about 1 cup of julienne ham or smoked sausage meet that isn’t fatty (like Hillshire Farms)/ 2 T fresh dill, snipped. Chill for an hour or more.
Just before serving, pour chilled kvass into the serving bowls. Add the vegetables and meat and top with a dollop of mayonnaise. Some people prefer to use kefir instead of kvass.
Kvass is a refreshing drink that is made from fermented rye bread. It is non-alcoholic, and somewhat resembles kombucha (fermented black tea) in taste and carbonation level. You will be able to buy it bottled in any shop that sells Eastern European food. But it’s easy to make at home. Here’s how:
Bring to boil 3 quarts of water.
Add 1/2 cup of sugar and 4 slices of darkly toasted, dark rye bread to the water. You might have to toast it twice. It needs to be nearly burned. You can also use a dark, sweeter wheat (like squaw bread, or a combo of the two. )
Let the sugar water/toast cool. Then add 1/4 tsp of yeast and a few raisins.
Put it in a large glass jar, cover with cheesecloth, and let it sit 48 hours in a warm spot.
You will see bubbles begin to rise – that’s good!
After 48 hours, strain out the liquid and put it in the refrigerator to get cold. Now your kvass is ready and you can make okroshka!
Save the bread to use instead of the yeast for the next batch.
Nina Alexandrovna’s Sorrel Soup (also called Green Borshch)
Prepare 4 cups of chicken broth by boiling a couple of skinless chicken thighs (or use prepared broth and some pre-cooked chicken meat), add 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced and cook under just tender. Add 15-20 washed sorrel leaves, cut crosswise across the leaf into small pieces along with some snipped fresh dill and parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Then scramble 2 eggs and pour into the simmering soup slowly while stirring the soup with a fork (like you do for egg-drop soup). Cook for about 10 minutes and the soup is ready!
Sorrel is a leafy herb that is seasonal in the spring in Russia. It has a very distinctive lemony flavor. I’ve also been served a sorrel pie.
Nina Vasilevna’s Solyanka soup (I won’t put this recipe up until I’ve made it myself)
MAIN (SECOND) COURSES
The following Russian recipes are dishes you will make over and over again. They are simple, but delicious. Try to always use the freshest ingredients possible. Most Russians get their food from the farmers markets.
NEW – Chicken breast a’la Olga
Tanya’s best friend, Olga, makes the most tender chicken breast I’ve ever eaten…
Pound chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer “hammer” (a lost art in the USA)
Coat with mayo and spices (your choice)/ Put in the fridge for an hour or so
Remove from fridge/ Dip in beaten egg, then in flour and fry in olive oil until both sides are golden brown. Don’t overcook!
Let stand a few minutes, then serve over rice with a sprinkle of fresh dill and parsley. YUMMMM!
Marina’s picnic chicken legs
These are easy and yummy and can be eaten cold.
Prepare a mixture of curry powder and some kind of mixed herbs–whatever you like. Coat a dozen chicken legs with mayo in roll in the curry mixture. Put legs in a baking pan, cover, and bake at 350 for an hour.
Natasha’s Meat with Prunes – her exact directions!
Grate carrots, chop onion, put them on any frying pan [she uses cast iron]. Cut up a piece of beef or pork into chunks and put them on the pad of carrots and onion. Add prunes or dried apricots (7-9) and pour as much hot water into the skillet so to cover the meat. I never brown meat in oil. I stew pork for 2-3 hours, beef for 3-4 hours, first over high then low heat. Add herbs (spices) and little salt at the end of stewing. You need enough hot water in the skillet so not to have to add more of it during stewing.
Serve over cooked rice. It is really delicious. Don’t let the prunes scare you off. They create a fabulous flavor!
Irochka’s Plov – (Uzbek style…really great!)
1/2 pound of pork (like a shoulder roast) cut into small cubes. Brown in oil and set aside.
1 cup each of: chopped carrots and onions/ 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic/ (saute in olive oil). Add in 3 cups of cooked and rinsed white rice. (not overcooked).
Stir in 1/2 can of tomato soup and about 1/2 can of water. Bring back to boil and cook until most of liquid is absorbed. (The idea is for the rice to get really saturated and puffy). Then add the meat and season with salt and pepper and chili powder if you like a bit of heat.
Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.
I’m only going to tempt you with some photos for now. Stay tuned for recipes.
Tanya’s Cheesecake – This delightful young accountant brought me this fabulous “pie”
when she came for her English lesson one day. Here’s how it’s made:
Crust: combine a cold stick of butter with 2 cups of flour until crumbly and then press into a square pan (8×8).
Filling: Combine 3-4 eggs, 600 grams of Ricotta cheese, about 1/4 cup of sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Beat with a mixer until smooth.
Pour filling into crust and bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Let stand until cool. Top with sour cream to serve.