In our family, there is clearly a blip in the genetic code. Somewhere on a DNA strand, there’s a G that should have been a C… or something. As a result, my sisters and I have always eaten *one food at a time* off our plates.
Anyone else, or is this weird?
My strategy was always to save the best for last… which meant veggies first when I was growing up. And if, god forbid, my mother served peas, I wanted to die. I used to take them like pills, swigging them down with milk and praying for it to end.
When I became more weight conscious, I realized that this strategy probably meant I was eating more than I needed to, because I might have been full already by the time I reached the main event… but I had earned it by then, and I was going to eat it NO MATTER WHAT.
It’s been a hard habit to break, even though I could see the draw-backs… until now, that is! For dinner tonight, I started with the protein. Truly odd for me: the pan-seared (sounds better than “fried”), soy-sauce-and-sesame-oil tofu (also LOVE!) came first… and *then* the main event was the veg.
And how this came to pass is this:
Two nights ago, I made BORSCHT! You might have heard me bleet about beet-hating before, and I sincerely do. But we were invited to her neighbours’ for dinner, our hostess, is Russian. She made Borscht, and she made me a believer.
I have never been this excited in my kitchen when I wasn’t baking… but there’s just something about preparing food that makes it look like you’ve done an autopsy in your kitchen! Not that I’m thrilled with autopsies, but I love cooking with extreme colours… beets + tomato base? Yeah, that was red with red and red.
I’ll share the recipe below, but know that Natasha was translating it from Russian off the back of a scrap of paper (this woman is a KINDRED SPIRIT!), and sometimes there was a 50% variance in ingredients (if it’s 1-2 beets, that’s going to make it a different beast if you choose just 1, or all 2, right?). So mine wasn’t exactly like hers in the end, I think her genetic code guided her a bit 😉 , but it’s still pretty darn tasty…
Tonight, I ate the red one last. It was veggie, it was VEGAN (until I threw a dollop of yogurt on top), and it was DIVINE. If yesterday was chili for those who hate chili, tonight is Borscht for beet-haters. Oh. Yeah.
I wonder if Natasha didn’t blend hers… I didn’t. You might want to. Or, just be sure you slice your veg VERY thinly and chop VERY finely. More than I did… It just tastes better that way. 🙂
• 1 onion, FINELY chopped
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, FINELY chopped
• 1-2 carrots, shredded
• 1-2 sweet peppers (red), THINLY sliced
• 1-2 beets, shredded (including the young leaves on the tops, which should be cut into 1/2 inch slices)
• 4-5 stalks celery, VERY THINLY sliced (Natasha’s note: “don’t overdo it“)
• 2 tbsp flour
• 1 x 1.36 L can tomato juice (or a can of tomato paste diluted in about 1.2 L water)
• 2 potatoes, in 1 cm³ squares
• “handful” of chopped cabbage
• 1/2 to 1 lemon
• 1 tbsp sugar
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 full clove garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• fresh herbs to taste (I used fresh dill and then dried stuff—Natasha used a whack of stuff from her garden…)
• in a Dutch oven (which I clearly don’t own), heat oil and add onions, sautéeing until soft; add garlic, carrots, sweet peppers and celery, and cook for 2 minutes.
• add beets with their greens, and keep cooking. THIS WHOLE SAUTÉEING PHASE SHOULD TAKE ABOUT 10 MINUTES.
• when the beets are just about ready (which I took to mean “softened”), add the flour, stir it in, and then pour the tomato juice or diluted tomato paste / water mixture over the veg. If it’s not covered, add water until it is.
• add the potatoes and cabbage, and the juice of the lemon. DON’T DISCARD THE PEEL: throw that in, too, while it simmers.
• giggle maniacally at the macabre, autopsy-like look of what you’re cooking… aaaaaaaaand stop, because it will taste DELICIOUS.
• while adding the lemon, also stir in the sugar, salt and pepper to taste, the clove of garlic (intact) and the bay leaf.
• boil for 25 minutes, not too rapidly.
• at this point you can purée all or part of it if you want (I didn’t, but wish I’d done maybe 1/3 and returned it to the pot)
• simmer for another hour, and five minutes from the end, throw in a handful of whatever chopped fresh herbs you have on hand (fresh dill feels like a priority, though), and augment with dried if you want
Obviously, fish out the bay leaf, whole garlic clove (or not) and lemon peels before serving. This is vegan and spectacular as, is, but it’s also pretty rocking when served with a spoon of sour cream or plain yogurt…
I am *so* reformed.