My Take on Borscht

Rest days. As much as they are important for recovery, especially after something as big as the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, I still hate them. I hate every minute of every one. But, I usually manage to get myself into some sort of trouble on rest days (much to the humour and dismay of coach,) so I figured with an ENTIRE WEEK off I’d try something I haven’t really done: play around with the slow cooker! A slow cooker is fantastic; you spend a little bit of time filling it up with all sorts of good things, and head off to work for the day (or whatever be your plans.) All day long you think about what will appear under that lid after a full day of merging and fusing of flavours, a conglomeration of smells, colours, and tastes! On your way home the excitement grows; as you approach your front door, you can barely contain yourself. As you enter, you’re stuck by an enthralling aroma that captivates your senses. You approach the crock-pot with the excitement of a kid walking towards a christmas tree, and as you lift that lid, you finally get a peek at what has captivated your attention for the better part of the day!

Okay, so maybe I get just a LITTLE too excited about food, but I’m sure this sounds familiar to some. Anyway, I’ve undertaken my first attempt at Borscht, and it turned out just dandy. It’s a meatless variation, but I’ll include instructions how to do it with meat.

All sorts of beet-y goodness! 
Slow-Cooker Borscht

Ingredients:
– 5 big beets, chopped
– 5 carrots, chopped
– 2 large potatos, chopped
– 1 large sweet onion, sliced fine
– 5 cloves garlic, minced (or put through the garlic crusher)
– 1 can (8oz) diced tomatoes, drained
– 1 small can tomato paste (seasoned works well, such as garlic)
– 2-4 cups broth of your choice (veggie, beef, etc) amount depends on size of slow cooker
– ½ head cabbage, cored and shredded (**CHEAT** use the ‘Coleslaw’ salad mix from grocery store, saves time)
– ¼ Cup red wine vinegar
– 3 Tbsp brown sugar
– 1 Tbsp dried dill weed
– 2 Tbsp dried Parsley
– sea salt and black pepper to taste
– Greek Yogurt or sour cream to garnish
– Fresh chopped parsley to garnish
– **OPTIONAL** beef chuck steak or lamb steak, cut into cubes.
Just be aware this is for a BIG slow cooker, and it’ll be full. If you have a small one, perhaps halving the recipe would be a good option for you.
Before it’s cooked. AWESOME colours!
Method to the Madness:
– If you want to use the meat, sear it on a pan on high heat (with a dribble of coconut or canola oil,) just until the outside is darkened.
– Throw everything EXCEPT the cabbage into the slow cooker. Fill the cooker pot up with broth until it is about ½ to ¾” from the top (you want a little bubble room.)
– Cook on low for 8-12hrs (depending on how warm your cooker gets; I had to actually go for 16hrs as mine isn’t very hot,) or on high for 4-6hrs (as with all things slow cooker, you have quite the window of opportunity for cooking. It’s hard to cook it too long!)
– About 45 minutes before serving, throw your cabbage in the cooker (if there’s room!) Set it on high for 45mins.
– Toss into a bowl, hit it with a blob (or two) of greek yogurt/sour cream, and some fresh chopped parsley.
This beauty eats like a meal (I know, it’s what I’ve eaten the last two nights!) Filling but fairly light. It also freezes well; I freeze in single serve containers (actually, used greek yogurt containers.)
Well, time to clock out for tonight. Tomorrow is the first day I get to do SOMETHING even remotely resembling training, and the sooner I hit the hay, the sooner I get to ride. 
Happy and safe training everyone!! Get out into the sun tomorrow (for you Vancouverites.)

Nathan

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