What to serve with hot borscht and rye bread
March 19, 2019 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm making hot borscht and rye bread for dinner tonight. What third thing should I serve with it?

We're having friends over for dinner tonight and I've got some rye bread proofing and plan on making the borscht (meat free, with shredded short ribs on the side) later this morning, but I'm stuck on a third thing to serve. The complicating factors include:

- I'm working (from home) today so likely can't devote a ton of in-person time to the dish (otherwise I would make potato pierogies).
- One guest is vegan, and my wife is vegetarian, so this dish will need to accommodate that.
- Our two kids and their two kids are all under the age of seven so occasionally obnoxiously picky (but that can be worked around by just making them eat butter noodles or something).

Given those constraints, what would you serve?
posted by saladin to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely a slaw of some sort. There are zillions, pick your favorite.
posted by juniperesque at 6:45 AM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A salad of chunked or diced tomato, cucumber, radish and scallion in sour cream (or Greek yogurt), with salt to taste and parsley to garnish.
posted by griphus at 6:46 AM on March 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

If I were in a polish restaurant I would order cucumber salad on the side, the kind made with sour cream.
posted by Morpeth at 6:59 AM on March 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Vegan, green, and tasty: quick green bean casserole.

Or maybe green peas.
posted by mareli at 7:03 AM on March 19, 2019

Why do you need a third thing? The borscht has tons of veggies (including cabbage, which feels like that'd negate slaw or anything like that) in it so you're covering meat/veg, and you've got bread for starch. I'd be happy with that if it were me.

(That said, if you really want something cold, maybe a fruit salad instead of a veggie salad? My grandma's standard fruit salad is apple, pear, pineapple and mandarin oranges--the latter two canned, but fresh is good too--and I use that for a simple side with soup or quiche often.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:23 AM on March 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

A la Rousse salad, though I prefer the version without vegetarian sausages, described here. Apparently, the salad is also known as 'Olivier Salad', after the Belgian who invented it while working as head chef in Tsarist Russia in 1860. Since that version is not English, here it is:

3 potatoes
3 eggs
5-6 sour gurkins
2 pieces pickled bell pepper (or another pickle/ extra sour gurkin instead)
3 carrots
300 g peas
150 g green beans
2 teaspoons mustard
100 ml olive oil
juice from half a lemon
2-3 spoonfuls mayonnaise
salt, pepper to taste

Chop the pickles into small cubes, drain. Chop boiled vegetables into small cubes (obvioulsy, don't chop the peas). FInely chop the egg white. Mix everything in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mince the egg yolks with a fork, add the mustard & oil little by little (as for home-made mayonnaise), until you get a smooth paste. Add salt and lemon juice to thin the sauce. if you want, add a spoonful of vegetarian mayonnaise.

Pour the sauce on top of the vegetables; mix well. Let it stand. Decorate with left over vegetarian mayonnaise.

VEGAN VERSION: eliminate the eggs, use only vegetarian mayonnaise for dressing/ sauce.

If you want to be more fancy, you can use the salad to fill tomatoes or peppers.


Much simpler - tabouleh. Lots of recipes online.


Another simpler thing (we also call it Russian Salad, though not Salad a la Rousse, since it's not fancy enough for the French treatment):

1 kg potatoes
3-4 red onions
4 hard-boiled eggs (you can do without for the vegan guest, but then it's probably a rather boring dish)
5-6 gurkins
pitted olives to taste
100 ml olive oil
half a lemon
one teaspoon mustard
salt, pepper to taste
a drizzle of honey

Optional: one of sliced red peppers, radishes, lettuce, etc.

Boil the potatoes and let them cool. Once they are cold, peel and slice them. Peel, slice the eggs (or you might want to quarter them, for a look more like this). Slice olives and the optional ingredient if you decide for it. Mix everythig in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, honey (just a cuple of drops), grated lemon rind (if your lemon is organic), the mustard and 50 ml of water. pour over salad. Done!

For your vegan guest, leave out the egg.
posted by doggod at 7:32 AM on March 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

If you live near anywhere with a Russian/East European deli or market you can probably get Olivier by the pound. Just ask them when they made it to make sure it’s not yesterday’s and ask specifically for Olivier (pronounced “Olive-yeah”).
posted by griphus at 7:47 AM on March 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Came to say shredded cabbage salad, but upon review of comments, agree Olivier is the way to go. I've never had green beans in it... it's pretty adaptable. Honestly even a more basic potato salad with sour cream and dill would be good, and a lot less chopping.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:18 AM on March 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Frozen pierogies are perfectly acceptable.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:27 AM on March 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Boiled potatoes and the best butter you can find.
posted by twoplussix at 8:34 AM on March 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

But there are potatoes in my borsch, you may protest. No, no, side potatoes are totally different when covered in butter rather than beet broth.
posted by twoplussix at 8:36 AM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pierogies of course.. Costco brand "Kasia" is perfectly good.

Also put sour cream in that soup!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:04 AM on March 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'd just want something with a fresh note. I'd do a cucumber salad without the sour cream: just cucumbers sliced very thin and tossed in a sweet-ish vinegar like white balsamic, with chopped or dried dill, salt and pepper. No oil.
posted by nantucket at 9:09 AM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I always like something crunchy and fresh on the side of borscht--even though it's not too heavy, it's nice to have the texture change. Either the previously mentioned cucumber salad (I do mine with a tiny bit of yogurt or sour cream, thinned with white vinegar, and a little bit of dill), or Russian carrot salad.

If you can't decide what to do, feel free to just send it all to me.
posted by assenav at 9:53 AM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you make a run out to get ingredients, consider picking up a nice chunk of Russian, Hungarian or Polish sausage. Yes, the vegetarians can't eat it, but a good paprika sausage would add a new texture, and a different colour and piquancy to the whole spread. I personally like the cucumber salad idea a lot. And you could also consider Russian style baked apples with nuts for a sweet.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:22 PM on March 19, 2019

Make grenki by frying your rye bread and adding raw garlic and salt.
posted by Ian Scuffling at 1:26 PM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A lot of really great answers here, thanks folks. Ended up going extremely simple: sliced English cucumbers, salted, with chopped fresh dill and minced shallots. It ruled.
posted by saladin at 3:46 PM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

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