Healthy Russian Diet
It used to be fashionable to buy high performance cars – now we are swapping them for a «greener» version. We were brought up in Russia with the notion of cheering high calorie food – now it is frowned upon and most of the recipes have a calorie count staring back at you in a silent reproach. In a way it was liberating not to worry about exhausting diets, counting calories, reading food labels and looking up in the dictionary what in earth’s name is GI – Glycaemic Index.
Today I am proudly hailing the most authentic Russian ingredients – Buckwheat and Cabbage as a part of a healthy diet!
Spiced Up Buckwheat with Tomatoes and Basil
I am well aware that buckwheat still needs a little more persuasion for British people to like it. And I am on a never-ending quest to find new ways to present it. When I was a child I was convinced that by eating buckwheat I would grow up to be healthy and wise. Indeed, it is a fact that buckwheat is a healthier alternative to couscous and white rice (especially quick-cook varieties). This dish is bursting with earthy goodness and might do the trick to convert some of you to like buckwheat a little more.
Hands on time: 10 minutes + cooking buckwheat
200g uncooked buckwheat grains = approximately 400g cooked buckwheat
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
½tsp hot chili spice blend paste
15g basil leaves, torn up
Cook the buckwheat according to the recipe you will find on page xx. Melt half the butter in a deep frying pan. Stir in the chili paste. Add the tomatoes and stir fry them for about 3 minutes. Put in the buckwheat and cook for about 3-4 minutes to heat it through. Serve hot.
Comment: I use «Gourmet Garden» Hot Chili Spice Blend which I always have handy in my fridge – it has quite a long fridge life – you don’t always have fresh chili peppers.
Cabbage Gratin with Siberian Pine Nuts
Cabbage is yet another traditional Russian vegetable which is unfairly under-rated. I perked this cabbage dish up with tomatoes for some color and pine nuts for some texture. Pine nuts, as I recall them back in my day, were slightly smaller than the ones you can get in the UK. Their origin was vast pine tree forests in Siberia. Pine nuts were usually sold unshelled so it was hard work shelling them! A collective task – again!
Hands on time: 20 minutes
Serves 6 as a side dish/4 as a vegetarian meal
1 green pointed cabbage or sweetheart cabbage, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
1 onion, halved and sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly slices
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
200g white sauce (such as Dolmio)
30g Cheddar type cheese, grated
50g roasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the cabbage in a pan of boiling water for about 5-7 minutes until just tender.
Drain. Transfer the cabbage into a heatproof dish. SautÃ© onion and garlic until tender, add halved tomatoes and cook them for about 2 minutes. Scatter on the top of the cabbage.
Pour the white sauce, sprinkle grated cheese and put dish under pre-heated grill on a medium setting/setting 2 for about 5 minutes.
Before serving scatter roasted pine nuts over the prepared dish.ShareThis