Take your loved ones on a culinary journey to Russia with these scrumptious Russian appetizers.
Russian recipes feature creative dishes full of flavor and nutrition.
Because of the harsh climate in the country, Russians rely on a limited variety of ingredients, such as mushrooms, cabbage, berries, and cheese.
You’ll be surprised by how these seemingly basic dishes can knock you off your feet.
Zakuski is the Russian word for “appetizers,” and the country has a myriad to offer.
From the colorful cabbage salad to the exquisite eggplant caviar, these dishes are the perfect way to start your Russian feast!
1. Russian Salad
Salads form a huge part of the Russian cuisines. A zakuski table is not complete without at least one type of salad.
The classic Russian salad, also called the “Ensalada Rusa,” or the “Salad Olivieh,” was invented by Lucien Olivier in the 18th century for a restaurant in Moscow called Hermitage.
It was a huge hit not only in Russia but all across Eastern Europe as well.
Countries such as Bulgaria, Poland, and Ukraine have their own versions of the popular appetizer.
Its primary ingredients include potatoes, carrots, pickles, onions, peas, eggs, and a creamy dressing made with mayonnaise.
2. Russian Cabbage Salad
Another popular salad in Russia is the cabbage slaw.
Just like the slaw we know and love, it’s a refreshing appetizer primarily made of shredded cabbage.
Other recipes contain carrots, too, but for this one, you’ll use cucumber.
The Russian cabbage salad does not have a creamy mayonnaise dressing, though.
Instead, the cabbage and cucumber are drenched in a bright and tangy vinaigrette – a combination of white vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Pro-tip: if you want a pop of color, use a combo of green and purple cabbage. The contrasting hues make the salad even more inviting.
3. Russian Mushroom Julienne
Mushroom julienne features thinly sliced mushrooms and onions cooked in cream sauce, cheese, and sour cream.
Can you imagine just how decadent this appetizer is?
To cut through the sheer richness, the mushrooms are seasoned with nutmeg and ground pepper and infused with white wine.
Sauteed shallots add a deliciously pungent flavor as well. The resulting dish is a well-balanced, perfectly flavored dish.
Mushroom julienne can be served as either an appetizer or side dish or used as a bread spread or pasta sauce.
Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a lovely meal.
4. Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Tomatoes and cucumber alone don’t seem at all like an exciting dish, but you need to give this salad a try.
Tomato and cucumber salad is a refreshing summer appetizer.
First of all, the contrast between green and red is oh so enticing. The crunchiness and juiciness from both vegetables are delightful, too!
The dressing is quite simple, too, but it definitely hits the spot.
Seasoned sour cream ties the flavors together, giving you one perfect bite.
Pro-tip: stick to ripe tomatoes for maximum flavor.
As for the cucumbers, try to look for Kirby or Persian cucumbers – they’re small, seedless, and super crunchy.
5. Marinated Mushrooms
Marinated mushrooms sound so boring, but you’d be surprised at how they can be the life of your party!
The concept is simple marinade mushrooms overnight to give it flavor.
The key to making it over-the-top delicious is to create the perfect marinade.
With a combination of white vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, red bell pepper, dill weed, and vegetable oil, this marinade definitely gets the job done.
Also, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of mushrooms you’ll use for this recipe – two whopping pounds!
Just keep in mind that mushrooms shrink as they cook.
6. Russian Eggplant Caviar
If you’re looking for a new companion to your bread, Russian eggplant caviar is the answer.
With its mushy consistency, many people don’t find the eggplant appealing.
The thought of an eggplant bread spread might freak you out, but give it a chance.
“Baklazhannaia ikra” is eggplant cooked over low heat with garlic, onions, and red peppers.
Over time, it turns into a smooth spreadable mixture that tastes wonderful on bread, pickles, and salads.
7. Russian Cabbage Soup
Soup is another staple in Russian cuisine, and schi ranks high on the list.
Made with cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, and sauerkraut, it’s a hearty soup that will keep you warm in the cold winter.
Schi has been around since the 9th century.
The vegetables are flavored with sour cream and herbs.
The contrast between the rich cream, starchy vegetables, tangy sauerkraut, and earthy seasonings makes this soup an all-time favorite.
Borscht is perhaps the most well-known Russian soup out there, mostly for its distinct purple hue.
This beet soup is not only full of flavor but nutrition as well.
From the beets to the carrots and potatoes to the beans, this soup is packed with vitamins.
Fun fact: although borscht is widely popular, it actually has Ukrainian origins. The word borscht is Slavic for cow parsnip.
9. Russian Garlic Cheese
Russian garlic cheese is a spectacular dip or spread. It combines mayonnaise, garlic, and shredded cheese, so obviously, it’s to die for!
If you’re serving a table full of zakuski, this spread has to be there. It makes every other appetizer 10 times more delightful.
Elevate your sausage, caviar, and bread with this show-stopping spread.
I suggest you make a huge batch! Russian garlic cheese is guaranteed to disappear on the spot.
Don’t worry, it’s super easy, and you can even make it in advance.
10. Baked Piroshki (Russian Stuffed Rolls)
If you love turnovers and empanadas, you have to try baked piroshki. Think of it as Russia’s version of the classic filled pastry.
The word piroshki means little pie in Russian, which is exactly what this appetizer is.
It’s a portable hand pie filled with either sweet or savory stuffing.
Sweet stuffing options include jam and fruit, while savory ones are typically made with mashed potatoes, ground beef, mushrooms, and cabbage.
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