This delicious summer vegetable salad hails from Lithuania, and is one of those dishes where a handful of simple ingredients – potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, and radishes along with kefir and dill – combine into something more than the sum of their parts. The recipe is shared in recently published Baltic cookbook Amber & Rye by Zuza Zak, with an introduction about its origins – author Zak learned it from her London-based friend Greta, who remembers her grandmother making it with home grown vegetables in the family dacha when she was a child.
When Nicky made this dish as part of her review of Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey by Zuza Zak, she was smitten by the contrasts – warm / cool, crunchy / soft, sharp / smooth – and found the kefir dressing a revelation.
Greta’s Gran’s Potatoes with Kefir & Summer Vegetables
I first met Greta in a South London cafe, where we talked about her childhood in Lithuania. She remembers staying at her grandmother’s dacha (summer cottage), which overlooked the vegetable patch: they used to eat a simple dish of dill potatoes with kefir and fresh vegetables straight from the garden – ripe tomatoes, prickly cucumbers and spring onions. I have also added radishes to the recipe, as I just can’t resist tangy kefir with salty radishes. Sadly, after Greta’s grandmother died, the dacha was sold, and when Greta and her mother went back to Lithuania to look for it, they couldn’t find it anymore.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) new potatoes
- Handful of chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- 2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
- 2 prickly cucumbers or ½ long cucumber, peeled and diced
- 50 g (1¾ oz) radishes, thinly sliced
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) thick milk kefir or kefir yoghurt
Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes or until soft but not falling apart. Drain well and leave to cool.
Halve the cooled potatoes, then mix with half of the dill.
Pour the rapeseed oil into a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the potatoes until lightly browned. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, spring onions, cucumbers and radishes. Season with plenty of salt, then pour over the kefir and mix gently.
Spoon the vegetables and kefir on top of the potatoes, sprinkle with the remaining dill and serve.
This is a lovely summery recipe to make with seasonal ingredients, and can be enjoyed as a light main or as a side dish.
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Recipe from Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey by Zuza Zak published with permission from Murdoch Books (RRP £25). Book photography by Ola O. Smit. Our photography by Nicky Bramley.