Šaltibarščiai: Pink, It's My New Obsession
Listen, there's just something about the color pink. I'll take it as a dusty, rosy beige, the coral and magenta hues of azaleas, the light pink of Texas's evening primroses... okay, maybe I just really like flowers. So it's probably no surprise to absolutely any of you that I was incredibly drawn to Lithuania for its famous pink beetroot soup, šaltibarščiai.
Alright, let's pronounce it together: shult-ay-bursh-chay.
Before moving here, the only soup I really knew from the general area was borscht - and I don't really like borscht. (Uh oh.)
When The Scientist and I began to consider Lithuania as a possibility, we decided to make our own šaltibarščiai to see if we'd like the cuisine here. (Helllllo, potatoes and sour cream!) And while it was definitely an, um, experiment, it tasted really good and refreshing - so as food often does, I opened myself more to the idea of Lithuania. Latvia and Poland have their own versions because: beets, but we wanted to laser in on the Lithuanian version.
Now that it's starting to get warmer here (hallelujah!), I wanted to do something different and share a recipe for šaltibarščiai that you can make at home in 45 minutes. (But I'll also say this: we let ours sit for a few hours in the fridge before eating and I think that made it even better!) I'm sure there are plenty of variations, but I'm going to use the variation from the Vilnius Tourist Information Center, right near Gediminas Tower and Pilies gatvė. Big thanks to Taste Atlas!
Ingredients 2 Servings
500g kefir (or kefyras, as it's called here in Lithuania!)
100g beets, boiled or marinated
100g fresh cucumbers
10 green onions, chopped
a pinch of fresh dill
1 egg, boiled
salt, to taste
400g potatoes, boiled
dill, chopped to taste
1. Finely chop the vegetables: cucumbers, beets (feel free to grate!), green onions, and dill. Mix them all in a large bowl. 2. Pour the kefir over the vegetables, flavor with salt according to taste, mix and let stand for at least 15 minutes. 3. Pour the soup into bowls, cut the boiled egg in pieces into the bowls. Šaltibarščiai is typically served with hot boiled potatoes seasoned with dill.
Two small notes:
After you add the egg pieces into the bowl, you can let the soup chill in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld even more. But it's still super tasty without that additional step.
If you don't have access to kefir, you can use buttermilk and yogurt with a small amount of lemon, but I'd really recommend using kefir! This yogurt relative is a superstar and brings the recipe to life, in my opinion.
The Scientist and I used canned beets when we made it last year, but I think they're really good boiled, too. Šaltibarščiai is so popular here that it's (hilariously) served at IKEA, so that should tell you something... I haven't had it for months and months because it's not exactly winter appropriate, but I'm gonna use this recipe as inspiration for an upcoming meal plan.
And you may have noticed this post is a day late! That's because I was just on holiday with friends (I'm trying out British English!). We traveled out to a new area - towards Utena in northeastern Lithuania. The reason? We just wanted an opportunity to spend time together on a lake. And even though I have a bad cold with an incredibly persistent cough (not the plague, thank goodness!), I had the best time. I haven't laughed that hard in ages!
And then we went to a petting zoo called Rabbit Valley - I mean, it can really only be classified as a petting zoo - that had so. many. rabbits, llamas, alpacas, A CAMEL, a super historic Lithuanian horse, ... it was pretty awesome, y'all.
Okay, I strongly recommend you make šaltibarščiai, especially if you're in Texas and it's nearing 100 degrees. ;) (Having been in this climate for almost a year, I'd probably go into a brief shock if I went back to Texas right now!)
Let me know if you end up making it in the comments, or if you already make it in your home and have your own variation! (Actually, please especially comment if that's the case!)
Until next time - viso gero!