Pink and Purple Borscht

I love the Olympics.  Whenever they are on I am about 50% less productive.  It is so hard to take my eyes away from all the amazing athletes and performances!  I also love learning about new people and places.  My knowledge of Russia before this Olympics was limited, and it is really cool discovering Russian culture, most importantly food!  Russian borscht stew caught my eye as something that I really wanted to try.  Having a base of beetroot and tomato, it is a vibrant red color, which is perfect for Valentine’s day!  Ok, it’s amazing for any time of the year, but because Valentine’s day happens to be this Friday, it is pretty perfect.

Because I have never tried borscht before, I researched recipes in order to get a general idea for what flavors are in it.  I also knew that I wanted a plant based stew, so pork was out and beans were in!  This recipe from My New Roots wound up catching my eye and was I used it as my base.  If you haven’t been to My New Roots, please check it out.  It is one of the most beautiful food blogs, with inspiring recipes and the most amazing photography!

The flavor of this borscht is truly unique.  It is sweet, with an underlying caraway seed flavor, a slight spice, and plenty of heartiness.  Comforting is the best way I can describe this stew.  The grated carrots and beets thicken the stew as well as provide a meaty texture and purple cabbage adds a crunch as well as a nice color accent.  The lentils are almost undetectable, however they complete the dish by adding protein.  This is a veggie-powered meal that is super nutrient dense.  It’s the perfect mid-winter meal to ward off any sickness and keep your hunger at bay.

I served this with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and some good, crusty, homemade, spelt bread.  I have been working hard to make a crusty loaf of spelt bread that isn’t heavy as lead, and I am happy to say I am pretty close to perfection!  These are exciting times.  Anyway, you can’t beat the vibrant color of this tantalizing borscht.  Make a big pot of this and settle down for some Olympic action, or serve it to your Valentine for a festive lunch or an appetizer.  There are so many great reasons to get your borscht on today!

Pink and Purple Borscht
vegan, gluten-free

adapted from My New Roots

1 Tbsp coconut oil, or olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups grated beets
2 cups grated carrots
1 medium purple cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsps spicy mustard
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp dried thyme
8 cups vegetable broth
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed*
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

*If you can, soak your lentils overnight or for at least 6 hours.  If you forget it’s ok, just soak the lentils while you prep the rest of the borscht, then rinse and cook them.

Directions:
1.  Heat oil on medium-low heat and add diced onions.  Saute for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

2.  Add the caraway seeds, thyme, mustard, tomato paste, and one teaspoon of salt.  Stir until combined then add the beets and carrots.  Add the vegetable broth and turn the heat up to high.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

3.  Add the cabbage and apple cider vinegar and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.  Add black pepper and more salt (if necessary), to taste.  Serve warm with crusty bread.

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