Thursday, March 06, 2008

Marinated Mixed Vegetable Salad, Take Two

I was planning to write off this marinated vegetable salad as another one of Anya von Bremzen's inspiring but not quite thought-out recipes. The instruction say the salad is ready to eat the day after you make it—well, no. I think Anya forgot about the “marinated” part. I sampled the salad at 24 and 48 hours, and it tasted like cabbage sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Then life got in the way and I shoved the salad to the back of the fridge and forgot about it. A week later, eureka! It finally tasted the way Russian homemade, pickled vegetables are supposed to: briny, sweet and sour, with a tingly zing. (The recipe still required some tweaking--see my instructions below. For one thing, the amount of brine Anya has you make was not nearly enough to cover all the vegetables.)


-Finely chop 1 medium head of cabbage; mix with 1 tbs. kosher salt in a large bowl and let stand for 1 hour.

-In the meantime, make the brine. Combine 3/4 c. water, 3/4 c. white vinegar, 12 whole black peppercorns, and 1.5 tbs. sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil, then turn off the heat. Let cool. (I had to make another 1/2 recipe of brine to cover the vegetables.) When the liquid is cool, add 2 tbs. sunflower oil to marinade.

-Squeeze the cabbage with your hands so it releases water; drain as much water as possible. Combine with a thinly sliced: carrot, 3 red peppers, 2 white onions, and 2 green tomatoes (I left these out). Toss with 3 peeled garlic cloves and 2 dried, hot chili peppers.

-Toss the vegetables well with the marinade. Let stand 1 hour, then put into clean 2-quart jars. I didn't have extra jars, so I put the vegetables in a big soup pot and simply covered it with a lid.

-The vegetables will need to marinate in the fridge for a few days; start tasting around day four. Eat with chopped dill or parsley. This salad is great with roasted chicken, pork or beef, and it’s also good on its own as an appetizer.


Anonymous said...

I find that a lot of Anya's recipes need some serious tweaking. I recently tried to make her Ukranian cheesecake which in retrospect could never, ever have succeeded. Mostly, I enjoy reading her cookbook for the history, stories and menus. As for the recipes, they are slightly flawed at best, wildly impractical at worst from my experience.

Ann said...

That really sounds wonderful and I am so glad you did the legwork to figure out the adjustments for us!

radish said...

Do you find that Anya is a bit of a let-down when it comes to Russian cooking? The salad you made sounds delicious - and great that you figured out a way to make it work.

Yulinka said...

Anon & Radish--Agreed. Anya gathered a wonderful variety of recipes (her book is the only one out there that notes Georgian/Armenian/Uzbek/Azebaijani food--which is frankly more interesting than Slavic cooking, especially to Americans), but her recipes often don't work.

Ann--I end up tweaking nearly all recipes I encounter, even those that work. :)

adele said...

I'm always pleasantly surprised when things that are forgotten at the back of the fridge emerge in better shape than when they went in. (It doesn't happen very often.) I'll have to add this to my to-do list, which is never, ever going to stop growing.

Victoria said...

I love this salad. I did not drain the cabbage after chopping it. After all, the delicious juice boosts the brine and cuts down the vinegar acid. It tasted very good the next day, but after a week, it was perfect. My non-Russian boyfriend polished off a jar by himself and keeps suggesting that we should make it again.

Yulinka said...

Adele--I just made this salad again, and it took less than a week to marinate! Of course, I tweaked the recipe again. Speaking of which...

Victoria: This time, I left the salad at room temperature and weighed it down with a plate and a couple of heavy cans for two days (like making sauerkraut). 48 hours later, it was perfect.

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