Vegan Saltibarsciai - an Ultimate Super Food Bomb
This dish is a special dish. It brings me home. It tastes like home. And let me tell you - it also gives the summer feels! Saltibarsciai. That's what we call this soup from where I come from. It basically means "Cold Borsch" just because one of the main ingredients here are red beets. I would love to say it's a traditional Lithuanian dish, but several other countries in Eastern Europe claims it too… so let's not get into the ownership details. The fact remains - it's good & super refreshing!
Surprisingly, it is a pretty healthy dish we have in Lithuania. Of course, if you assume that dairy is good for you. Which, you know, I don't.
Some people eat it only in summer, I, on the other hand, was eating it throughout the year. I do admit, I forgot all about it once I went vegan. My first vegan year I was too busy experimenting and finding new things to eat. But suddenly it just hit me! How could I forget it?? And then the veganizing mission started. I was super excited to see if there is a way to make a vegan version of Saltibarsciai as awesome as the original! Since you are reading this now – mission was completed successfully!
The most difficult part here is to replicate the taste and the consistency of sour milk (kefir). It's the base.
There were already few vegan Saltibarsciai recipes out there. Some people go for soya yoghurt, some mix it with plant-based milk. However, I didn’t really feel this is going to be anywhere near the original when it comes to the taste. And then I saw somewhere a recipe where sunflower seeds were used to make “kefir” and I got intrigued to try it.
First of all, sunflower seeds are super healthy. So, this soup is basically a one ultimate super food bomb! Secondly, when soaked and mixed with water sunflower seeds has this smooth and somewhat blend taste with a tiny little pinch of nuttiness. This makes it a perfect base where you can yourself play with the taste palate. I felt that adding just one clove of garlic hit the target for this.
Then there are marinated beets. I do buy them. Even though, finding marinated beets in Norway is a total nightmare. I have found few spots that usually has it, if they aren’t’ out of stock -it's my lucky day! That’s why buying it in bulk is a great option!
Yes yes, I see you pointing fingers at me and saying how it’s easy to just buy fresh beets and marinate them yourself. Well, I must admit, I never tried doing it before! But I made a promise to myself that I will learn it. It’s just like I always wanted to learn how to make my own kimchi but never got time or bravery to do it. If you have any tips, or good recipes – please comment!
Even though you buy ready made beets in the grocery store, there’s always a chance that it will taste differently or as of this time – will be surprisingly pale. I was super disappointed about the color this time. In my opinion, saltibarsciai is one of the most gorgeous dishes out there. It’s super pink! But I was just unlucky. Here’s how it usually looks when the beets are marinated on point:
Isn’t it cute?
The best part of making saltibarsciai in summer time is that you can use your own grown greens and cucumbers. This was and still is the best part of spending my summers at my mom’s. You just wake up, step out the house and you have all the real super foods just a meter away from you! I really miss home.
So, if you have a chance to buy these ingredients at a local farmer’s market – do it! It really makes a huge difference here!
When all the ingredients are in and well mixed – give it a try! It has to get this tangy kick from the marinated beets. If it is missing – add more vinegar or lemon juice until you reach that perfection!
Since it is a cold soup, make sure you keep it in the fridge until it’s chilled – believe me, it’s much better served cold! Also, it gives the chance for the dill and onions to make its magic to the sunflower base. That's also the reason why Saltibarsciai is known to taste even better the day after!
Finally, the most important part. Always eat it with boiled or baked potatoes. It’s a perfect duo!
Vegan Saltibarsciai - an Ultimate Super Food Bomb
150g natural sunflower seeds
1 clove of garlic
500g marinated beets (1 usual jar, grated)
3 short cucumbers, thinly sliced
Loads of fresh dill, chopped
Loads of spring onions, chopped
1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1. Soak sunflower seeds overnight in cold water
2. Using a strainer, rinse and wash sunflower seeds under a running water.
3. Add the seeds, garlic and water into a blender. Amount of water depends on how thick you want your soup to be. I usually pour water so that it covers the seeds in about double amount. You can always add more water and play with the consistency. Blend everything very well – on the highest speed for about 1-2 minutes. You don’t want small pieces of sunflower seeds in your soup.
4. Pour the sunflower "milk" into a bigger dish and then add beets (with all it’s liquid from the jar), cucumbers and greens.
5. Add salt and pepper and taste if you need more acidity. It always depends on the marinade of the beets. If you feel it needs some more tanginess – add vinegar or lemon juice.
6. Leave it in the fridge to chill – best served cold and together with boiled or baked potatoes!