In summer Russians just love to head out to the dacha or country cottage for a barbeque. If you follow our video blog, then you’re probably already skilled in the art of making Russian-style shashlyk. But what do Russians eat on the side, I hear you ask?
That’s the topic of today’s post.
There are many possibilities, of course, but more often than not shashlyk is served with baked jacket potatoes and vegetable salad.
The potato ain’t a problem: just stick some whole jackets on smoldering coals and leave for an hour.
The salad’s a bit more complicated. Salads in Russia and Europe, for instance, differ quite a bit. For Russians, salad is not about elegantly laid out cherry tomatoes and chunks of chicken on a bed of rucola and lettuce leaves (like Caesar salad, which, incidentally, is very popular in Russia and found on more diner menus than any other “Russian” salad).
For Russians, salad is a finely chopped jumble of different vegetables, mainly root crops instead of lettuce. If you've ever eaten Olivier salad, you can imagine the consistency of Russian salad — in fact, Olivier is sometimes called “Russian salad.” The closest equivalents abroad are perhaps Shopska salad, common in south-east Europe, and Greek salad, common in... well, you can guess.
The Russian winter is not great for fresh vegetables, so in summer everyone tries to fill up on vitamins, and veg is a must. Salads are typically based around tomatoes and cucumbers. Radish and bell pepper are often added. The rest is up to the chef. Many add herbs, such as parsley, coriander, spring onion, and, of course, dill.
Dill is second only to mayonnaise when it comes to foreigners poking fun at Russian food. Yes, some dress salad with mayonnaise, but sour cream and sunflower oil are also widely used.
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