Russian Friday – Vegetarian Borscht

This beet soup would probably be one of the first items that pops up if you google “Russian cuisine”. However, being more of a pastry person while growing up, I skipped all the borscht hype.  Eight months ago our family was invited to a Russian dinner that completely changed my attitude.  A few… quite a few.. disastrous attempts later I am finally proud to present my vegetarian version of this famous Russian dish.

Traditionally borscht is made with beef broth and beets (of course), and there are a million different ways to prepare it.  I found my favorite recipe on another US blog written by a Russian mom.  Here it’s modified to fit our tastes.  Though, if you are looking for the original meaty version, I cannot recommend a better place than Sofya’s blog!

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VEGETARIAN BORSCHT

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7 medium beets, leaves removed
  • 5 liters vegetable broth
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and grated
  • 1,5 yellow onion, shelled, and finely cubed
  • 1 8-oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • ½ head of garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 small cabbage, finely shredded
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • Juice from 2 small lemons
  • 2 dry chili peppers
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400⁰F/200⁰C.  Wrap the beets in foil, punching a few holes in each bundle.  Bake the beets for about 1-1.5 hours.

Pour vegetable broth into a large soup pot, and let it come to a boil. While the broth is warming up, preheat a frying pan, melt the butter on it, and sauté carrots, turnip, and onion in it until the vegetables are very soft and juicy (for about 10 minutes).  Add tomato paste, and steer, letting it to melt and incorporate.

Once the beets are baked, remove them from the foil, peel, and shred.

Dump the sautéed vegetables, beets, cabbage, potatoes, chili peppers, bay leaves, cloves, and peppercorns into the broth, and let boil for another 10 minutes.  When the potatoes are cooked, add lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Your goal is to find the perfect balance between sweet and sour when putting together the final ingredients.  My babushka actually adds sugar, if the beets are not sweet enough.  It’s all about pleasing your taste buds!

Make ahead: the vegetarian borscht will keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months.  Cool it, pour it in freezer-safe zip lock bags, and let lay flat in the freezer.  The meat version should be ok for up to 3 months.

To serve: garnish the soup with sour cream and dill.

 

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Seeded Crepes

I may sound like someone who just found out about Windex, washed the room with it, and was surprised to discover that one of the walls was actually made of a see-through glass!  I’m ready to scream like the OxiClean Man!

What can I say? I am not into infomercials, and I didn’t grow up in this country.  In Russia my dad and I were the cleaning supplies of the household.   When moved to the States, I didn’t bother testing every product available out there… 

In true spring spirits, my mom and I have been into detailed cleaning.  Well, she has been playing with the kids, while I was muscling through dirt…  Dreading stove scrubbing, I went to Google, hoping for some magic solution (like tooth paste or nail polish remover) and was shocked to discover I’ve been missing on some serious chemicals! Eureka –after simple spraying and wiping I cannot recognize my kitchen! 

Life is good!  Life is even better when French-style vegan crepes are cooked on a sparkling clean stove!

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SEEDED CREPES WITH TOMATO-MUSHROOM FILLING (adopted from Vegetarian Times magazine)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tbs ground flax seeds
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup almond milk, divided
  • 3 tbs raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs flaxseeds
  • 3 tsp poppy seeds

FILLING

  • 3 stalks fresh parsley
  • 3 large springs fresh oregano
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tbs olive oil divided
  • 2 lbs button mushrooms, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 6 tsp goat cheese (optional – skip for a vegan version)
  • Handful of sprouts of alfalfa sprouts
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Make crepe batter: mix ground flaxseeds with warm water and let rest for about 15 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt, add olive oil, flaxseed mixture, and 1 cup of almond milk.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, mix in the seeds, cover the bowl, and let rest in the fridge for 30 min-24 hours.

Make filling: tie parsley, oregano, and bay leaf with kitchen twine to make bouquet garni.  Grease frying pan with 1 tbs of olive oil, and sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic for about 10 minutes. Set aside.  Grease a pan with the rest of the olive oil, and sauté tomatoes with the bouquet garni in them uncovered, so that most liquid evaporates (for about 10 minutes).  Discard bouquet garni, and mix the tomatoes with mushrooms.

Make crepes: Preheat the oven to 200⁰F/90⁰C.  Preheat a crepe pan, remove batter from the fridge, and thin it with remaining almond milk.  Whisk well.  Pour about ¾ cup of batter on the pan, and bake for about 2 minutes on each side. Once the crepe is done, place it on a baking sheet, and leave in the oven until ready to serve.

 

To serve: lay a crepe on a plate, place filling in the middle, sprinkle with goat cheese and add sprouts.  Fold the crepe, and sprinkle it with fresh chopped parsley.

Bon appetite! 

 

 

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