Joan’s Healthy Recipes
How you doin’? Ukraine has been in the news lately, and I thought Ukraine might be of interest to our readers because of its importance to agriculture and food in general.
Ukraine is the second-largest country in Eastern Europe, after Russia, which it borders to the east and northeast. Ukraine also shares borders with Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the south; and has a coastline along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
Ukraine is often referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe” because of how much the Ukrainian people value wheat and grain, a staple in Ukrainian cuisine due to their historical relationship with it.
Most original Ukrainian dishes are popular in Russia and other Eastern European countries (with some changes in ingredients from country-to-county). Many of these Ukrainian foods are even enjoyed in English-speaking countries, as well.
Traditional Ukrainian dishes are derived from ancient peasant meals that made use of plentiful grain resources such as rye, as well as essential vegetables such as potatoes, cabbages, mushrooms, and beetroot. The cuisine is also heavily influenced by the rich dark fertile soil in which many ingredients are grown. Because of the changes to borders, many of these dishes incorporate both Slavic and Eastern European influences as a result of years of foreign occupation, enslavement and jurisdiction.
Ukrainian Holubtsi, or stuffed cabbage leaves, are the perfect warm comfort food for a chilly day. Traditional stuffed cabbage mixes pork and beef with barberries, giving the dish a complex sour note. If barberries are hard to find, you can substitute cranberries, currants or raisins soaked in lemon juice.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Calories: 321 kcal
12 to 14 large savoy cabbage leaves (from 1 large Savoy cabbage; use the inner smaller leaves for coleslaw)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced yellow onion, divided
3/4 cup peeled and finely grated carrot
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 can chopped tomatoes (14-1/2-ounce can, undrained)
1-2/3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
1/4 cup barberries (optional)
1/4 cup parboiled white long-grain rice (cooked for only about 5 minutes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Sour cream, for topping
Sliced grilled sourdough bread, for serving
ChefSecret: European barberries have a tart flavor, like cranberries, while barberries from North America are sweeter. Barberries contain several beneficial compounds, most notably berberine, which acts as an antioxidant and may help to manage conditions like diabetes, fight dental infections, and treat acne. Barberries can be purchased at Whole Foods or Amazon online.
Quip of the Day: “A Ukrainian proverb: A stupid Russian gives straw to his dog and bones to his horse.”
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