Introduction to Russian Food
February 24, 2014
Introduction to Russian Food

By Cheryl Tallman

Old World Russian meals traditionally consisted of three dishes; a soup, a hearty protein with a grain or potato and a drink.  And of course, bread - lots and lots of bread.  Though this may sound delicious, this type of diet has contributed to an obesity problem in Russia.  Like in many cold weather countries, meals were meant to keep you warm.  But like the United States, many Russians are eating more and moving less.  Modern Russian cuisine is changing to include more fresh fruits and vegetables and less salt and fats.

Though traditional flavor is still preferred, health-conscious Russian families are eating these meals in lesser quantities and working to create a more balanced diet. This doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the flavors of the 2014 Olympic host country's cuisine, just keep portion sizes in mind.

Preparing a Russian-themed meal for your family is a great way to teach your children about meal traditions in other countries. Russian families typically all sit down together to share meals. Saying a word of thanks before the meal is standard practice for many families. In the old days, guests were welcome at meals. Carry on this tradition by asking a neighbor or friend to join in on your Russian-inspired meal.

Popular Russian Dishes

Oliver - Potatoes and other hearty vegetables that store well during long winters are staples in the Russian diet because they are locally available. The Oliver, named after the chef who created it, is a salad made with potatoes, peas, carrots, cucumbers, slat and mayonnaise. The Oliver is one of the most popular dishes in Russian.

Borscht - This popular soup originated in the Ukraine and is enjoyed in various forms throughout Eastern and Central European countries. Beets are the main ingredients in Borscht, which is also spelled as Borsch.  The Russian recipe for Borscht includes beets, potatoes, cabbage and beef or pork.

Blini - A blini is a pancake make with buckwheat flour. They may be served with a variety of toppings. Smoked salmon, chopped eggs, sour cream and caviar are the popular toppings. If you want to try this topping but do not have caviar in your budget, capers are a good substitute. Fruit toppings are also a great way to go with blini.

Pirohzki - A pirohzki just may have been the original idea behind a "Hot Pocket." They are made using dough of flour and eggs that is stuffed with meat, onion, mushrooms and cabbage. Sweet versions are stuffed with fruit and cottage cheese.

Rye Bread - Also known as Black Bread, dark rye bread is found on the table at almost every Russian meal. Rye bread is higher in fiber than white bread. It also has a lower glycemic index, which makes it a good choice for people managing diabetes.

Baby Borscht Puree


  • 3 beets, peeled
  • 1 apple, peeled
  • 1 potato, peeled
  • 11/2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth

Chop beets, apple and potato into 1-inch cubes and place in medium sauce pan.  Add water or chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minute, until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree to a smooth texture. Pour the Baby Borscht into So Easy Baby Food Trays or ice cube trays, cover and freeze until ready to use.

Defrosted Borscht cubes, stir in a little plain yogurt for a creamier texture.  Serve warm or cool.

Beef Stroganoff


  • 1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin steak, sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp. each, salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) Low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 cups hot cooked egg noodles (cooked according to package directions)

Slice beef across grain into about 1 1/2x1/2-inch strips. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.

Cook mushrooms and onions in butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender; remove from skillet.

Cook beef in the same skillet until brown. Stir in 1 cup of the beef broth and the Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining beef broth into flour; and pour into the beef mixture. Add onion and mushroom mixture; heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in sour cream; heat until hot (do not boil). Serve over noodles.

Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.  Permission granted for use on

Posted by Staff at 7:04 AM