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Russian food recipe that does not contain flour or meat - and is not too difficult

dynastar May 29, 2012 05:55 AM

My step-daughter's HS track team is having an end of year party. Each kid is bringing a food from their background/culture - one of the benefits of living in NYC. One of the kids can't have flour or meat, all of the recipes I know contain one or the other. I was thinking latkes, but they will not transport well. So i guess that is another requirement. Thanks for your help.

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    LauraGrace RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 06:31 AM

    This potato salad from Deb's Russian mother-in-law looks like a winner, though you'd have to use ice packs to keep it cold because of the mayo: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/07/why...

    Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: LauraGrace
      cleopatra999 RE: LauraGrace May 29, 2012 07:40 AM

      will you be able to heat stuff up? How about cabbage rolls with out the meat, just rice ones?

      1. re: LauraGrace
        CindyJ RE: LauraGrace May 29, 2012 07:59 PM

        Kasha Varnishkes (kasha with bow tie pasta) meets all of your requirements. It's delicious, highly transportable and easy to cook for a crowd. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/din...

        1. re: CindyJ
          happybaker RE: CindyJ May 29, 2012 08:06 PM

          Love Kasha Varnichkes and they do transport well. But most bow tie pastas are wheat based. Maybe if they can get a gluten free pasta and sub that?

      2. mamachef RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 07:48 AM

        Any marinated vegetable salad would work well, as a version of zakuski, the h'ors d'ouvre platter served at virtually every Russian table before every meal.

        1. ipsedixit RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 07:54 AM


          1. l
            ludmilasdaughter RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 11:31 AM

            I agree on vegetarian borsch. As a matter of fact, vegetarian borscht is often eaten cold in the summer time. There's another good soup that can be made vegetarian called Schi. Also, there are many Russian mushroom dishes out there as well.

            1. jmcarthur8 RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 01:07 PM

              A simple cucumber salad would do it. Sliced cukes, sour cream, dill and salt. That's it. Keep it chilled. I add torn crunchy lettuce to mine, the way my (Slovak) mother always made it.


              16 Replies
              1. re: jmcarthur8
                happybaker RE: jmcarthur8 May 29, 2012 08:08 PM

                This reminds me of my dad's favorite breakfast - sliced bananas, topped with sour cream and brown sugar. The only folks I know of that eat this are Lithovanians (sp?) and Russians, so you've got a 50% chance : )

                And it is awfully tasty : )

                1. re: happybaker
                  mamachef RE: happybaker May 30, 2012 08:03 AM

                  I eat this all the time!! Also w/ pineapple chunks, but that's definitely not old-country.
                  I think you mean, "Lithuanians?"

                  1. re: mamachef
                    happybaker RE: mamachef May 30, 2012 09:33 AM

                    Mamachef - that's indeed what I meant!

                    Typing with very tired fingers and eyes at the time... Sorry!

                  2. re: happybaker
                    AmyH RE: happybaker May 30, 2012 09:20 AM

                    I grew up eating that and still do! I learned it from my grandfather, who was Lithuanian. He also liked sour cream with boiled potatoes.

                    1. re: AmyH
                      happybaker RE: AmyH May 30, 2012 09:34 AM

                      You know, I've never had that - but it sounds awesome!

                      1. re: AmyH
                        jmcarthur8 RE: AmyH May 30, 2012 12:00 PM

                        I always have sour cream on my boiled potatoes. And butter and dill. Can't think of a better way to eat potatoes.

                        1. re: jmcarthur8
                          AmyH RE: jmcarthur8 May 31, 2012 05:25 AM

                          Are you of Lithuanian or Russian extraction (the name McArthur notwithstanding)?

                          1. re: AmyH
                            jmcarthur8 RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 10:48 AM

                            My grandmother was Slovak, and my grandfather was Polish. They came over in the 1910's. Their surnames were Nagy and Wesolowski.
                            Grandma was quite a cook, and unfortunately took her best recipes to the grave with her. She never wrote anything down, nor did she measure. When she described recipes, it was a handful of this and a little bit of that, which none of her children could translate!

                        2. re: AmyH
                          ludmilasdaughter RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 08:50 AM

                          We always had leftover pasta with sour cream and feta cheese. So simple yet so delicious.

                        3. re: happybaker
                          PattiCakes RE: happybaker May 30, 2012 11:15 AM

                          We love green grapes done the same way. Actually, a good (and pretty) light app is a mix of green& red seedless grapes, tossed with sour cream & sprinkled with a mix of brown sugar and ground walnuts. Spread them out on a long, thin serving platter and serve with toothpicks.

                          1. re: PattiCakes
                            AmyH RE: PattiCakes May 30, 2012 11:40 AM

                            That sounds really good, PattiCakes. We also like strawberries dipped in sour cream and rolled in brown sugar.

                            1. re: PattiCakes
                              jmcarthur8 RE: PattiCakes May 30, 2012 12:02 PM

                              I had that grape salad at a pot luck here in Georgia recently. I'd never seen it before, and thought it was a Southern thing. I loved it, and made some as soon as I got home.

                            2. re: happybaker
                              goodhealthgourmet RE: happybaker May 30, 2012 11:59 AM

                              learned that one from my Polish grandfather. also done with strawberries!

                              1. re: happybaker
                                CindyJ RE: happybaker May 31, 2012 08:03 AM

                                "Bananas and (sour) cream" was one of my dad's favorite side dishes. No sugar topping for him. My mom would give him an unpeeled banana and a half-pint container of sour cream. He'd scoop the sour cream into a bowl, peel the banana, slice it with a spoon directly into the bowl, and give the end slice to me.

                                These days, it's hard to imagine anyone devouring an entire half-pint of sour cream in one sitting -- or even wanting to. But that was in a whole different era, when our diets were totally different than they are today.

                                1. re: happybaker
                                  CindyJ RE: happybaker May 31, 2012 08:05 AM

                                  ...or maybe you meant "Litvaks" -- Lithuanian Jews.

                                2. re: jmcarthur8
                                  jmcarthur8 RE: jmcarthur8 May 31, 2012 10:50 AM

                                  Oh, and onions! Lots of sliced sweet onions in the cucumber salad.

                                3. d
                                  dynastar RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 02:14 PM

                                  We thought the potato salad would be perfect, but my daughter does not like it. The cucumbers may be a good idea. Easy & she likes those.

                                  1. w
                                    weem RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 04:22 PM

                                    Is a side dish okay? I've always liked kutya. I suggested it once on another thread and somebody retorted that it's Christmas food or funeral food, but I don't think it matters. Traditionally you would use wheat berries, but it can be done with bulgar wheat or barley (or, in a pinch, rice). Basically you cook some of the grain, stir in a lot of poppy seeds, chopped walnuts and raisins, and add just enough honey to wet everything and make it a bit sticky without being soupy. You can google recipes for exact proportions. It's an unusual but tasty flavor, sweet but healthy. And it can be served warm, cold, or room temperature, so it would transport easily.

                                    1. t
                                      Tatania RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 04:47 PM


                                      1. t
                                        tardigrade RE: dynastar May 29, 2012 07:53 PM

                                        Not Russian, but a lot Polish cuisine has a lot of the same dishes. Some suggestions:
                                        -cucumber salad: cucumbers sliced thin, tossed with sour cream and dill
                                        -cabbage rolls, substituting mushrooms for the meat
                                        -pickled beets, or a simple beet salad
                                        -cold vegetarian borscht
                                        -Salade Olivier, a potato salad with mayonnaise, capers and olives

                                        Of course, if cost is no object you can serve cavier!

                                        1. d
                                          daphnar RE: dynastar May 30, 2012 07:59 AM

                                          I would recommend something with beets! It isn't a celebration without beets (and lots of garlic) in my Russian in-laws house.

                                          Here's a recipe from Temptations Cookbook:
                                          3 medium beets
                                          1/2-1 clove of fresh garlic (although to make it authentic, use even more)
                                          1/4 cup mayo
                                          salt, to taste

                                          Place whole raw beets in saucepan. Cover with H2O and cook over medium heat until tender. Cool and remove skin from beets. Grate beets into a medium bowl, using the large holes of a grater. Grate garlic using the small holes of a grater. miz all ingredients together, Add salt to taste.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: daphnar
                                            ludmilasdaughter RE: daphnar May 31, 2012 08:53 AM

                                            My mother makes a similar salad, except that her beets are raw. And yes, lots and lots of garlic.

                                          2. mamachef RE: dynastar May 30, 2012 08:05 AM

                                            Something I just thought of is a takeoff on Cotelettes Podjarhski - ground-chicken patties, spiced, breaded and sauteed in clarified butter. You could do little chicken meatballs, seasoned with dill, onion, and a little salt and pepper, and serve in a chafing dish; even make a sour-cream/broth-based sauce to serve them in. Delicious.
                                            Which I suppose might be super-helpful IF your OP hadn't specified "no meat." Dang but it's early here. Oh well. It might've been really good. :)

                                            1. AmyH RE: dynastar May 30, 2012 09:26 AM

                                              I have to respectfully disagree with those who have said borscht. I love the stuff myself, and agree that it's very Russian, but the teenagers/young adults in my house would sooner die than eat borscht or pretty much anything made with beets. I'd be very scared that you'd put a lot of work into it and the kids on the track team would say "yeccchhh!!!" and your step-daughter would be humiliated. I think the cucumber salad or other marinated vegetable salad might be a safer choice.

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: AmyH
                                                PattiCakes RE: AmyH May 30, 2012 11:18 AM

                                                Beets can also have a somewhat surprising next-day consequence that could freak teens out if they were not prepared for it.

                                                1. re: PattiCakes
                                                  kubasd RE: PattiCakes May 30, 2012 11:27 AM

                                                  really? never noticed anything....

                                                  1. re: kubasd
                                                    PattiCakes RE: kubasd May 30, 2012 11:42 AM

                                                    lotta iron, not unlike spinach.

                                                    1. re: PattiCakes
                                                      AmyH RE: PattiCakes May 31, 2012 05:24 AM

                                                      We were referring more to the purple tint that, um, carries through.

                                                      1. re: AmyH
                                                        kubasd RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 08:20 AM

                                                        ahhhhh... yeah that would be scary if you weren't expecting it

                                                  2. re: PattiCakes
                                                    AmyH RE: PattiCakes May 30, 2012 11:39 AM

                                                    Oh yeah! I hadn't even thought about that! Might drum up business for the local gastroenterologists.

                                                  3. re: AmyH
                                                    Berheenia RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 07:18 AM

                                                    I agree and am married to a non- beet eater but I always wonder when I see yellow beets if I could pull off a fast one and nobody would know they were eating 'beets'.

                                                    1. re: Berheenia
                                                      AmyH RE: Berheenia May 31, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                      I once hid grated purple beets in a chocolate cake (many recipes on the internet) and nobody was the wiser. But yeah, I wonder if you could call the yellow beets something different and get a non-beet eater to eat them.

                                                    2. re: AmyH
                                                      ludmilasdaughter RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 08:59 AM

                                                      Actually, I've used Russian borscht as an introduction to beets for many supposed beet haters. Russian borscht, unlike Jewish borscht has so many other ingredients that it's more like a vegetable soup that just happens to contain beets. Mine also happens to contain onion, celery, garlic, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, dill and parsley. So many of my friends are really surprised that when they happen upon a beet in the soup they discover that they actually like it!

                                                      1. re: ludmilasdaughter
                                                        AmyH RE: ludmilasdaughter May 31, 2012 09:21 AM

                                                        Very true. I've eaten Jewish borscht my whole life but made Russian borscht for the first time last year for a visitor from Russia. So completely different! Also, a friend who is Jewish and from Moldova told me that she considers the jars of Jewish borscht to just be the starter for real borscht. She adds meat and all the other ingredients you listed to it. I guess it saves the messy grating.

                                                        1. re: AmyH
                                                          ludmilasdaughter RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 10:40 AM

                                                          Huh. Pretty good idea, actually!

                                                      2. re: AmyH
                                                        southernitalian RE: AmyH May 31, 2012 09:44 AM

                                                        I was thinking the same thing Amy. How about schav?

                                                        1. re: southernitalian
                                                          AmyH RE: southernitalian May 31, 2012 12:40 PM

                                                          I can ask her. Personally I can't stand schav, although I haven't tried it since I was very young. But just the thought of it gives me shudders.

                                                      3. goodhealthgourmet RE: dynastar May 30, 2012 12:13 PM

                                                        i agree that a cucumber salad would be nice, and kasha was another great suggestion.

                                                        a couple of other things that come to mind:
                                                        - buckwheat blini served with sour cream & smoked salmon or preserves (you can make the blini ahead & store in the fridge but you would need to reheat them on site)
                                                        - tvorog - a soft fresh Russian curd cheese (you can also use farmer's cheese or quark) served with honey & fresh berries or jam...or you can make a tvorog cheesecake.

                                                        1. e
                                                          EllenMM RE: dynastar May 30, 2012 08:01 PM

                                                          Cucumber, sliced very thin, salted and wilted, wash off salt. Thinly slice onion (4 parts cuc: 1 part onion). Combine equal amounts of water and white vinegar, add sugar to taste, making a light sweet/sour dressing, add snipped dill. Keeps indefinitely.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: EllenMM
                                                            CindyJ RE: EllenMM May 31, 2012 08:10 AM

                                                            That dressing is almost identical to the one we use in family recipe we call "health salad." We also add shredded carrots and cabbage.

                                                          2. m
                                                            MRS RE: dynastar May 31, 2012 01:04 PM

                                                            What about Ikra/ Eekra? Russian Eggplant Caviar. That's easy to transport.

                                                            1. Kajikit RE: dynastar May 31, 2012 01:05 PM

                                                              One kid can't have meat, so the whole party has to be vegetarian? That's carrying accommodation into the overkill zone.

                                                              I guess you could make borscht, but I don't think they'd like it very much.

                                                              1. foodperestroika RE: dynastar May 31, 2012 05:16 PM

                                                                I'd recommend to check out my blog :) Here are a few ideas:
                                                                - some modified version of the salad Olivier, as already mentioned
                                                                - kippered salmon
                                                                - fromage blanc dessert (paskha)
                                                                - latkes are actually not all that hard to transport, I think
                                                                Good luck!

                                                                1. h
                                                                  happybaker RE: dynastar May 31, 2012 05:35 PM

                                                                  Kasha Varniskas - without the noodles.

                                                                  It does transport and reheat well.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: happybaker
                                                                    The Professor RE: happybaker May 31, 2012 06:04 PM

                                                                    I've seen bowtie pasta made from rice and corn in the supermarket. Use that for the Kasha Varniskas.

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