There may be nothing Russian about this salad other than the name and the use of cucumbers and beets with a vinegar dressing. However, one true thing is that it is perfect for Autumn and completely delicious.
One caution: though gorgeous, these red beets will make you look like a red handed bandit if you don’t wear gloves when you are preparing them. If that does not bother you, proceed with abandon but if you like to avoid looking like a serial killer, gloves are a cheap investment.
a mandoline makes slicing a heck of a lot simpler
1 bunch red beets (should come about 3 bulbs to a bunch–pick the largest ones because they are sold in bundles, not by weight, mostly)
1 bunch gold beets
1 medium red onion
1 fennel bulb
2 T fresh dill
2 small garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T agave nectar (or honey, I use them interchangeably)
salt and pepper- to taste
Clean your beets to remove all sand and grit. Separate the bulbs from the leaves (you can reserve the leaves for a later culinary feat). Place your cleaned beets in separate roasting pans, one for red and one for gold, then add enough water to create steam-about a cup per pan. Cover your pans with aluminum foil and place them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a paring knife slides easily out, once tested. Cook your beets whole unless you have varying sizes and then slice the larger ones in half to get a uniform baking size.
Wash/clean your fennel bulb, red onion, and cucumber and either finely slice them or cut them on a mandoline.
For the dressing: mix the cider vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic, dill, and agave nectar together. Set aside.
Once your beets are finished roasting, cool them, peel them (again using gloves) and slice them on the mandoline.
Toss your fennel and red onion with enough dressing to coat and set aside. Repeat with your cucumber, gold beets, and red beets but place each in a separate bowl.
Plating: I began by mounding my fennel and red onion in the center and ringing it with my cucumber slices. Next, I fanned out with alternating red and gold beets until the plate was full. I finished by dropping a few fennel slices atop the beets and adding a pinch more of salt and pepper across the entire plate.
One of the best things about this salad…it gets better over time. The next day, as the flavors have fully infused it is even more delicious. Enjoy!