Vinaigrette is the oil-and-vinegar dressing so popular across the world for livening up salad leaves, right? Wrong, at least as far as the vast Russia is concerned. And Estonia, for that matter. Most deli counters in supermarkets here would sell something called 'vinegrett' (that's vinaigrette in the local lingua), and it's not the dressing they're selling, but this bright Russian vegetable salad. My version is possibly a bit beetier (khm? is that a word?) than others, but I simply couldn't resist the colour.
Note the Russian vinaigrette salad is lactose free/gluten free/vegetarian/vegan, so should suite a wide array of diets- in addition of being really bright and beautiful to look at. I served it on crisp dark rye bread triangles, but usually it is eaten just as a side salad.
Russian Vinaigrette Salad
Serves 10 as a side dish
300 g boiled potatoes
200 g boiled beets
100 g boiled carrots
300 g sauerkraut
200 g pickled or salted cucumbers
150 g red or yellow onions or spring onions
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp strong mustard
a generous squeeze of lemon juice*
coarsely ground black pepper
fresh herbs (e.g. dill, parsley, chives)
NB! All cooked/boiled vegetables must be cool before starting to prepare the salad.
Peel the potatoes, beets and carrots and cut into thin julienne sticks or grate coarsely. Cut the cucumbers into thin slices lengthwise, then cut into stick crosswise. Mince onion finely.
Mix gently all the vegetables (sauerkraut, beets, carrots, cucumbers, onions) in a large bowl, until well combined.
Season the vegetables with salt, then dress with oil, mustard and lemon juice. Check for seasoning - and add salt, sugar and/or pepper, if necessary. The vinaigrette salad should have a slightly sweet-and-sour flavour.
Put into the fridge for about an hour, so the flavours and colours could mingle.
Sprinkle generously with fresh herbs and serve.
* It is traditional to use vinegar, but we prefer the much milder lemon juice.
VARIATIONS TO THE THEME:
You may add any of the following ingredients:
* fresh or preserved green peas
* salted Baltic herring slices (place on top of the salad)
* chopped salted wild mushrooms (add about 25 g per person)
* chopped hot-smoked fish
* chopped fresh or pickled apples
* chopped bell peppers (add about 100 g to the above recipe)