The turnip was the most popular vegetable in Russia. It was steamed, boiled, stuffed, mashed, dried, caramelized and its pot liquor was used for medicinal purposes. After the tradition of making salads emerged, they started to add it to salads. Before the arrival of the potato the turnip was among the most popular vegetables on the menu of Russian people. Nowadays, it is not the most popular product on the table, and this is a loss! It contains a lot of healthy nutrients and is very tasty.Steamed turnips are tasty and incredibly easy to cook. There is a reason that in Russia they always say “easier than a steamed turnip”, to characterize work that doesn’t require much effort.
A turnip, cut in pieces (or whole), is put inside a clay pot, some water and salt is added. The turnip is kept in the oven for about 2 hours, then it can be served. Nowadays, housewives use clay vessels or cooking bags, and they usually prepare turnips in modern ovens, although in distant villages wood-fired ovens are used. It’s a pity that this healthy vegetable is farmed less and less often.
Besides turnips, there were other popular vegetables like cucumbers, cabbages, radishes, beets, carrots, rutabagas and pumpkins. Nowadays, radishes and rutabagas are not very common guests at the table, but other vegetables are routinely used. In the late 18th century the potato was added to the list. As soon as it was tasted, it started its triumphal march across the tables of the nobility and ordinary folks alike.
There are a great number of dishes from potatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, and beetroots known in Russia. These are the most common vegetables used for cooking today.
Baked, fried or mashed potatoes; cabbage soups (including shchi and borsch); fermented, pickled and stewed cabbage; cucumbers as a separate dish and in salads, salted and pickled cucumbers and even a soup with salted cucumbers – it’s impossible to name all of them