beets, beans, and buckwheat

while i only have one cookbook (written by peace corps ukraine volunteers and adapted for cooking in ukraine), a very limited amount of kitchen and food photography supplies, i thought i’d turn my love writing, food, and food photography into mini cultural lessons on cuisine in ukraine. and that way maybe you can bring a little piece of ukraine to your table. smachnoho! (bon appetite)

buckwheat goes with everything

‘salat vinaigrette’

this lisa frank colored ‘salat’ is a traditional ukrainian salad served on holidays such as christmas and new years. it’s vitamin packed, delicious, and pretty easy to make.


1 medium beet, whole and unpeeled
1 medium carrot, whole and unpeeled
1 medium potato, whole and unpeeled
1 large dill pickle
1 medium onion
1 small can green peas or white beans (northern), rinsed, and drained
1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil (canola oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

in the evening, in a large pot of water boil beet (for 20 minutes), carrot and potato (for 10 minutes). turn off heat, cover the pot, and leave vegetables to soak till morning (or for a few hours).

in the morning, peel and cube beet*, carrot and potato into fairly small pieces. chop pickle and onion, and combine with the root vegetables in a large bowl. add peas/beans, oil, salt and pepper. mix thoroughly.

*be sure to wear an apron when cooking with beets!

yields: 4 servings

mmm pretty salad

beet rosti with rosemary

while this next recipe is not ukrainian, i was first introduced to it in ukraine by my fellow pcv catherine, and it’s so delicious that i had to include it. the slowly cooked beet pancake turns into an unexpected somewhat crunchy sweet and savory delight. this recipe is for anyone out there who doesn’t think they like beets and tells the beets on their plate to ‘just beat it!’. trust me, it will have them asking for seconds.

my cooking companion chucha


2 pounds beets (3 very large or 4 to 6 medium)
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary (i didn’t have any so it’s fine without too)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
minced parsley for garnish (yea i didn’t do that)

1.) trim beets, and peel them as you would potatoes; grate them in a food processor or by hand. begin preheating a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.

2.) toss grated beets in bowl with rosemary, salt and pepper. add about half the flour; toss well, add rest of flour, and toss again.

3.) put butter in skillet; heat until it begins to turn nut-brown. keep heat moderate, cooking too quickly will burn the sugary outside of the pancake while leaving the inside raw. scrape beet mixture into skillet, and press with spatula to form a round. with medium to medium-high heat — the pancake should gently sizzle –cook, shaking pan occasionally, until bottom of cake is nicely crisp, 8-10 minutes. slide cake onto a plate, top with another plate, invert the two plates, and return cake to pan (or you can mcgiver this two forks). keep cooking, adjusting heat if necessary, until other side is browned, another 10 minutes or so. garnish (or not) and serve hot or at room temperature.

serve with a salad, grilled veggies, or buckwheat.

beet rosti isn’t as photographable as it is delicious

One thought on “beets, beans, and buckwheat

  1. Kristen, I have been making a sweet pickled cabbage recipe lately, it is really good. I found it on FoodTV, it is the same cabbage you get when you go to a chinese restaurant, can you get cabbage?

    Sweet Pickled Cabbage Recipe

    8 cups Green cabbage (about 1 large head cabbage), cut into 1 inch pieces and separated
    2 tablespoons Coarse salt
    1/2 cup Rice wine vinegar (use any white wine vinegar)
    3 tablespoons Light brown sugar (packed)
    3 Dried red chilies (crushed and discard the seeds)

    1. In a large bowl, toss cabbage with salt.
    2. Let it sit for an hour; toss twice.
    3. Rinse the cabbage in colander using cold water; drain well.
    4. Put the cabbage back in the bowl.

    While the cabbage is salting,
    5. In a small saucepan, blend sugar in vinegar.
    6. Add the Crush chilies to the pan
    7. Cook over low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved.
    8. Let the solution cool down to room temperature.

    9. The add the vinegar mixture and toss to combine.
    10. Let it sit for another 1 hour and then drain.
    11. Serve immediately or refrigerate in closed container. We like eating it the next day best.

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