For this recipe we travel back in time to the Soviet era and my homeland Ukraine where it originated. It might have been Russia but nobody really knows where it really came from – as when the republics united the cuisine lines blurred over time. What I know is that when winter came and fresh vegetables became scarce, this root vegetable salad often made an appearance on our table, especially on special occasions accompanied with herring, rye bread and ice-cold vodka. I think it was so popular because the colours and flavours reminded everyone of summer and because it used cheap, accessible ingredients.
I wouldn’t call my recipe ‘an adaptation’ or ‘slightly modified’ because it’s as close to the real thing as I remember in my mind. I don’t know who invented it so I am going to credit my grandmother because she made the best Vinegret salad of them all. Enjoy it in winter and in summer because it’s delicious and easy to make!
Now, I can hear you saying ‘But white potato is not paleo’. Or is it? Let’s see. White potato is real food. It’s a vegetable that is actually quite nutritious. However, it’s a nightshade and contains some compounds that can cause an inflammatory response, especially in those with an autoimmune condition. But did you know that most of those compounds are located in the skin of the potato? So, if you peel the potatoes before cooking, that amount is drastically reduced. Yes, the potato has a high glycemic index and is high in carbs, however, it’s also one of the best sources of resistance starch, especially when cooled after cooking. It’s a type of fibre highly beneficial to our gut health. One of the ways to decrease the GI (quite dramatically) is to serve white potato with some healthy fat and fibrous veggies, and with something acidic, like a dressing. This slows down the glucose absorption in the blood. If you serve the potatoes cooked and cold, or reheated, that’s even healthier. So, this salad is really the best way to enjoy the humble white potato.White potato is even allowed in the Whole30 program. More on white potatoes and paleo here.
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Cold potato salad is one of the healthiest ways to enjoy white potatoes. Once the potato is cooled, its content of resistance starch increases making it even more beneficial for our gut health.
- 2 large raw beetroots/beets, peeled
- 2 large white potatoes, peeled
- 2 medium carrots, washed, not need to peel
- 3 large dill pickled gherkins, finely diced
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 medium Spanish onion, finely diced
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (also totally fine in moderation)
For the dressing
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and cook the beets, potatoes, and carrot for 20-30 minutes, remove carrots at a 20 minute mark as it takes less time to cook. Rinse all under cold water and leave to cool for at least an hour (this can be done ahead of time).
- Combine the gherkins, dill and onion in a large salad bowl with the dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to boil and cook the peas for 30 seconds to a minute. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Once cooled down, dice the potatoes, beetroot and carrot into small cubes. Combine with the rest of ingredients and the dressing in the bowl. Serve on its own or as side dish with meat, chicken or fish.