For one of my favourite foods, I grew up thinking that “nachynka” (also nachinka or начинка) was the word for cornmeal. It actually means stuffing. Also known as Bukovynska nachynka if it has bacon in it. But, this is a basic but delicious cornmeal side dish at heart.
Nachynka starts out as a basic polenta recipe to which you add eggs and onions and bake it in the oven. I made this an embarrassing number of times trying to get this one right for the Instant Pot – and it’s worth it. Instead of stirring the cornmeal on the stove for 45 minutes, the Instant Pot makes that a quick 9 minutes!
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Cookbooks like Culinary Treasures published by the St. Basil’s Ukrainian Women’s League have been my go-to for figuring out the right proportions for the recipes here. Originally published in 1967, it must have been popular because my copy is a reprint in 1972.
It’s the collective knowledge of the women at St. Basil’s in Edmonton, Alberta as well as women from across Canada. Mrs. A. Hlynski of Toronto, your Saturday Night Noodleburg should be a classic – and it’s an easy casserole for an Instant Pot Saturday Night. Inspired by her 1967 recipe, I’ve adapted it for the Instant Pot and sped up the process a little bit, too.
You can’t go wrong with a casserole that’s topped with corn flakes.
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Onions. They go with everything, don’t they?
It’s the first step to so many recipes – heat oil or butter and saute onions, blah, blah, blah. So simple. But, time-consuming. My baba would simmer onions on low heat in butter for what seemed like hours. They never browned and these aren’t caramelized. They’re just wonderfully cooked onions.
My solution: chop and cook a lot of onions all at once in the Instant Pot. Maybe use some now, freeze the rest to use later. Then you’re covered when you need a fast topping for those frozen perohe (Sure, the box or bag says perogies but you’re stubborn and call them perohe). Or, you just want a head start on filling some traditional cabbage rolls or some summertime beet leaf holubchi. All-purpose onions are here for you.
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Beet leaf cabbage rolls may not make a lot of sense but they’re delicious and completely unlike cabbage holubtsi (holubchi, golubchi, golubtsi, whatever). Replacing the cabbage with beet leaves is a summer time treat.
Like many awesome Ukrainian recipes, this one finishes with being baked in cream. So, it needs to be finished in a regular oven because that cream totally curdles in the Instant Pot. A little extra time but totally worth it.
After some research, there are plenty of recipes around called beet leaf holubchi but with bread dough wrapped in beet leaves. My family always makes beet leaves filled with rice and plenty of dill. If you’re used to the bread dough version, try this one out!
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The Ukrainian word for cabbage rolls have a lot of different spellings when it’s transliterated into English. Holubtsi, holubchi, holubchy, golubchi, golubtsi. Why the h and g? Regional differences, I suppose.
In my family, holubtsi are more often meatless than meaty. This applies especially to Sviata Vechera, the meatless 12-dish Christmas Eve dinner. In this version, they are also gluten-free and could go vegan by swapping out the butter for vegetable oil.
While you could finish the rolls in the oven, this recipe in the Instant Pot helps you save some time by speeding up the fillings and the final cooking.
This recipe saves almost 2 hours of cooking time!
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Whether it’s Kutia or Kutya (pronounced coo-tcha), it’s probably one of the most seminal Ukrainian dishes. It’s also one of the most time consuming.
The history of kutia
Kutia is a Christmas Eve dish but – in reality – its roots have very little to do with Christmas. So, let’s travel back a few thousand years to the Ukraine. What was going on? Growing wheat. So, they boiled the wheat.
But, it’s so much more than just boiled wheat. Ukrainians (and everyone nearby) celebrated the winter solstice before they adopted Christianity in 997 AD. Kutia is the centrepiece of this winter solstice dinner that was adapted into what is now the Christmas Eve meal: Sviata Vechera.
This recipe saves the overnight soaking time plus 2 hours of cooking time over the traditional recipe!
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