Soviet-style Lenten lunch: Salad, borscht, mushroom dumplings, with cookies for dessert

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How to cook delicious meals without meat and eggs

This year, Orthodox Lent runs from March 11 to April 27—a period of strict fasting for the faithful in the runup to Easter. For many, the dietary restrictions imposed on the body are not less arduous than the spiritual demands on the soul. Weakened after the long winter, the human organism needs variety, which is where Lenten versions of Soviet dishes come to the rescue. 

Kidney bean salad

The recipe for this salad is found in the famous Soviet-era Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, published in 1964. Pre-soaked kidney beans (1 cup) are boiled and cooled. Boil carrots (2-3 pcs) at the same time and dice. Celery is washed and cut into strips. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and add washed and chopped green salad, plus salt, sugar, and mustard to taste. Pour in 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and a couple of drops of vinegar, and mix. 

Lenten borscht

This is a lean version of traditional borscht. First, prepare the vegetables: dice potatoes (4 pcs) and carrots (1 pc); finely shred cabbage (200 g) and medium-sized beet (1 pc); chop onion (1 pc); remove seeds from pepper (1 pc) and dice; peel and grate tomatoes (3-4 pcs).

In a heated frying pan with vegetable oil, fry the beet for 5 minutes, add the onions and carrots for another 5 minutes, then add the Bulgarian pepper and tomato mixture. Mix everything together and cook for another 5 minutes. Next, pour in 1 cup of hot water and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Simultaneously boil salted water in a saucepan, and pour in the chopped potatoes. After 10 minutes, add the cabbage, followed by the steamed vegetables from the pan, and stew for another 3-5 minutes. Add finely chopped greens and a chopped garlic clove, plus salt and pepper to taste.

When ready, let the soup stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Read more: Borscht, the most well-known beetroot soup  

Dumplings with mushrooms and potatoes

Dumplings are a year-round favorite in Russia, but especially during Lent when they brighten up even the most ascetic menu. The main thing is not to add eggs and butter to the dough.

For the filling, mash potatoes (3-4 pcs) and finely chop onions and mushrooms before frying in vegetable oil. Combine the two mixtures, and add salt and pepper to taste.

For the dough, 1.5 cups of warm boiled water, 1 tsp of salt, and 2-3 tsp of sunflower oil are added to 4 cups of wheat flour. Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out the cooled dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 2-3 mm, and use a glass to cut circles 7-8 mm in diameter. In the middle of each circle, lay out the filling (about 1 tsp) and join the edges.

The dumplings can be cooked immediately. Just place them in salted boiling water, and when they rise to the surface, cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with fried onions or finely chopped greens. 

Read more: Dumplings: A blessing for vegetarians 

Oat cookies

Another recipe for a well-known dish, again without butter and eggs.

Two cups of oats are run through the blender. Throw in sugar (90 g), baking powder (1 tsp), and spices (e.g. cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, or nutmeg). Stirring slowly, add water (4 tbsp) and vegetable oil (4 tbsp) to the mix, followed by 100 g of flour.

The resulting dough should be malleable. All that remains is to cut it into pieces, roll them out, flatten, and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 C.

Read more: 6 fantastically delicious Russian vegetarian dishes 

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