|To match a Russian Feast...
quintessential russian, a have-to-have on the appetizer table
- I n g r e d i e n t s -
Beets - 3 to 4 pounds, about 3 big bunches or 4 small bunches
Garlic - 9 to 10 large cloves, minced
Walnuts - 3/4 cup or more, roasted and chopped
Prunes - 3/4 cup or more to taste, moist, not stewed, chopped
Mayonnaise - 3 Tbs of fat-reduced, Best Foods
Sour Cream - 6 Tbs Non-Fat Sour Cream
- T o o l s -
Vegetable Brush, Knife, Cutting Board, Rubber Spatula
Large and Small Mixing Bowls, Baking Tray, Large Aluminum Foil
A beautiful Serving Bowl and Serving Spoon
- T h e B i g P i c t u r e -
For some weird reason, some people don't like beets, pity them.
Beets have a come-hither about them that suggest depth and mystery like no other vegetable has.
The moist prunes is an interesting twist to a salad that the Russians have perfected.
Roasting the beets, rather than boiling, gives another dimension of caramelization and
there isn't the loss of flavor to the boiling water. Plus, this dish can go from the appetizer table
to the entree course. This will be enough appetizer for 20+ people.
- T h e B e e t B a k e -
This can easily be made the night before, and it is a little better if you do.
So take the beets, cut off the green tops and the stem area as well as the root.
Scrub them well with the vegetable brush. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
Put a big sheet of aluminum foil on a baking tray, and put all of the beets on top of the foil.
Gather the foil into a tightly sealed envelope with
no holes so they will get a good steaming as well as a good roasting.
Roast in the conventional or convection oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until they are tender
when you press on them through the foil. Remove from the oven and let cool in the foil
if you are unsure about the doneness. When they are cool enough to handle, open the foil
and the skins should slip off easily. Chop them coarsely and put them in the large mixing bowl.
- P r e p p i n g t h e O t h e r P a r t s -
Walnuts taste so much better when they are roasted, so it is worth the extra step.
Using raw walnut pieces, put about a cup of them in a medium, curved-bottom, stainless steel
skillet. Without any oil, put the unchopped nut over low heat. You can use medium heat,
but you have to watch them very closely so they won't burn. With the curved bottomed pan,
you can easily flip them (just watch the lead nut coming up, catch that one and you will catch
all the rest). Let them continue heating until the have some browning on them. At that point,
if you wish, you can add a little bit of butter to the pan to finish them off. Let them cool
and chop them coarsely. Once cool, add them to the mixing bowl with the beets.
The other thing that might need a little prepping are the prunes. If your dried prunes,
now called dried plums, are a little too dry, put them in a pan or pot with a tight fitting lid, on
low heat. Add just a couple spoonfuls of water to the pot, add the 1 cup of prunes and
let them steam a little bit to moisten. Check them frequently and add more water if needed.
When moist, give them a medium chopping and add to the large mixing bowl.
Measure out into a small bowl the 3 Tablespoons of Fat Reduced Mayonnaise,
and the 6 Tablespoons of Non-Fat Sour Cream. To start with, add a couple teaspoons of Salt
to the small bowl. Also peel and mince up the 9 to 10 cloves
of garlic and add that to the small bowl and blend well. Add the small bowl to the big one
and blend everything well using a rubber spatula. Taste as you mix and adjust the salt.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
- T o T h e A p p e t i z e r T a b l e -
In the morning, taste and make any adjustments. If in doubt, ask for a second opinion.
Transfer the salad to your serving bowl. A bowl of white or a solid blue color make a nice
compliment to the vibrant color. If you think you need garnish, then use few sprigs of parsley
or a few discs of orange tucked into the side of the bowl. Clean up all the stains and you are
going to be ready for the party.
We would like to thank Darra Goldstein
The author of At the Dacha, Russian Home Cooking
This book is out of print, and it must be loved because it's hard to find used ones,
but she has others. Go to Amazon.com and type in Darra Goldstein in the search box.
We have adapted her recipes here and there, but done under the watchful eye of Andy Zaharoff.