For Christmas Eve, I like to make braised red cabbage. It’s not a Ukrainian recipe – but what Ukrainian doesn’t like cabbage? (Ukrainians are allowed to not like cabbage)
This braised red cabbage is colourful and easy to make ahead of time. Just refrigerate and reheat when you’re ready to serve it.
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These beautiful little boiled dumplings (also known as tiny varenyky and ooshka) are filled with tasty mushrooms and dill. The first recipe I’m adding that doesn’t use the Instant Pot! Boiling isn’t recommended in there. But, we’ll save time by using pre-made dumpling wrappers.
These boiled Vushka (вуха) are meant to look like pigs’ ears. They are served inside a bowl of borscht and make the Christmas Eve dinner of Sviata Vecheria special.
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Як ви готуєте борщ? (yak veh ho-too-yet-eh borsch) I’ve been learning Ukrainian with Duolingo. It’s been fun and sometimes frustrating. If you’d like to try it out, you can use this link which would give me a free week of the “pro” version. The other day, the lesson asked me Як ви готуєте борщ? How do you cook borscht?
Here it is. This is a vegan borscht with a lot of flavour, and it’s pretty straightforward. I save time by using pre-cooked beans and pre-cooked onions. A quick steam for the beets makes them easier to peel. And, dill and beet leaves (or swiss chard) adds a fresh flavour in the middle of winter.
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Beans are a fairly pedestrian thing. This recipe made for Sviata Vecheria, the Ukrainian twelve-dish meatless Christmas Eve meal. As such, it’s made with vegetable oil and is totally vegan. With a cup of Instant Onions, you’ll save even more time on your way to Christmas Eve.
Mashed beans may not look like much but they’re tasty and garlicky. They’re kind of the Ukrainian version of refried beans.
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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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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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This is a more modern version of kutia. My baba liked the addition of the dried fruit and nuts – it’s more extravagant than her Traditional Kutia recipe. This is my “healthier” version.
What’s kutia and how do I say it?
Kutia or Kutya (pronounced coo-tcha) is one of the most important dishes in all of Ukrainian cuisine. It’s a big hassle to make – but not with an Instant Pot.
This is boiled wheat. Pretty basic but wheat is the centre of Ukrainian culture and farming. When I was younger, I was told that the yellow half of the bottom of the Ukrainian flag symbolized the wheat fields and the blue band on the top symbolized the sky. Now, that there’s Wikipedia, I’ve learned the flag pre-dates Christianity in the Ukraine but that story developed around 1845. To sum up, wheat’s important.
This recipe saves you from soaking the wheat overnight and over 2 hours of cooking time!
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