Rosolje Recipe: Beet Potato Salad from Estonia

Take classic potato salad to the next level with this vibrant Estonian rendition that includes beetroot as the star of the show. Rosolje, as its called in Estonia, integrates the tang of sauerkraut, crunch of apple and sweetness of beetroot to create a potluck-worthy beet potato salad.

Rosolje Recipe | Vegetarian Estonian Cuisine

Country Number 57: Estonia

Not including airport layovers, the time I visited Estonia must have been the briefest encounter I’ve had with a country. I think I spent a total of five hours within its parameters. The brief nature of the encounter was not by choice: I would have loved to spend longer exploring the country. At the time, I was on a work trip to Helsinki, and while I was there, I found out that I could catch a two and a half hour ferry across the Gulf of Finland and end up in Tallin, Estonia’s capital. I had a free day, and couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit another country, even if the visit were to be brief.

From the moment I landed on the shores of Estonia, I was memorised. Tallin was a breath-taking vision of church spires, medieval towers and winding cobblestoned alleyways. Walking through the old town felt like being transported into a 15th century fairy-tale. The quaint streets were powdered with a dusting of snow, the smell of caramelised nuts from a local street vendor wafted through the air, and the lively sound of busking musicians charmed the ears. Along the streets was also a plethora of cosy restaurants, most candlelit and decorated with red chequered tablecloths. After a long while of wandering the streets in sub-zero temperatures, I caved to the hunger pangs and near frost bite and headed to one particular restaurant that caught my attention. I can’t remember exactly what I ate, but I remember it being hearty, comforting, and everything I could have asked for in that particular moment.

Hopefully one day I will return to Estonia, explore beyond the capital and eat more than the one meal I consumed in that cosy restaurant. For now, I’ll have to live vicariously through travelling to Estonia in our kitchen.

Tallin Old Town Estonia

History of Estonian Cuisine

Traditional Estonian cuisine can be linked all the way back to Medieval times. The cuisine is also tied to its history with the Balkan states, including Latvia, Lithuania and Russia, as well as its Nordic neighbours. Congruent to many Eastern European nations, Estonian cuisine is heavily based on potatoes and meat, particularly pork. Around coastal and lakeside regions, fish is also quite common. Homemade rye bread has been a staple throughout Estonian history and plays a vital role in most meals. The country is also known to eat very seasonally. In Spring, dishes are focused around specific ingredients such as lamb, leek, rhubarb and goats cheese. In Summer, the focus turns to fresh vegetables and fruit, then shifts to game meats in Autumn. Finally, winter centres around warming stews, roasts and soups.

Tallin Old Town Estonia

Popular Estonian Vegetarian Dishes

  • Kohuke– An Estonian snack consisting of sweet curd cheese surrounded by chocolate and often dotted with dried fruit and nuts
  • Kama- A flour mixture containing barley, oat, rye and peas that is often mixed with buttermilk or kefir to form all kind of desserts
  • Mulgipuder– A unique side dish consisting of mashed potato and barley, which gives a dense, porridge-like texture.
  • Vastlakukkel- A sweet bun filled with cream and sometimes jam, generally served during Shrove Tuesday
  • Pirukad- An Estonian pastry similar to an Empanada, filled with different types of fillings such as mushrooms, cheese or fruit
  • Rosolje- A potato salad made with beetroot and sauerkraut

Vegetarian rating of Estonian Cuisine:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rosolje Recipe | Vegetarian Estonian Cuisine

Making Estonian Beet Potato Salad (Rosolje)

I must be honest: I am not the biggest fan of potato salad. I’ve always associated the dish with potluck meals, with which I think I naturally have bad associations.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally get the concept of a potluck meal. Spreading the cooking out so it doesn’t fall onto just one person makes perfect sense. However, as Floss and I love hosting and cooking for people in our home, we get a little sad that almost every meal we seem to be invited to is of potluck nature. We also get a little sad that the meal often ends up consisting of 8 bowls of potato salad and little else. Anyway, I shouldn’t turn this blog post into a rant….

Back to Estonia. Despite my disinclination towards the dish, on researching Estonian dishes, Rosolje immediately caught my eye. This vibrant purple salad looked too pretty not to make. Given that potatoes are such a staple of Estonian cuisine, it did seem quite fitting. I must say, the addition of a few ingredients such as beetroot, granny smith apples and sauerkraut really elevated this potato salad above the stock-standard potluck offering. Next time you’re on potato salad duty, this is recipe you’re going to want to use…

How to make Estonian Beet Potato Salad (Rosolje)

This potato beetroot salad requires a decent amount of cooking time and cooling time, however it doesn’t require many active cooking minutes. If you put the beetroots in the oven to roast at the beginning, you can spend the cooking time preparing the dressing, boiling the potatoes and cutting the other vegetables so the salad is ready to go once the beetroots are cooked. Here’s the order we’d suggest doing things in:

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C (400ºF). Wrap beetroots in foil and place onto a baking tray and bake for 1 hour. Once beetroots are cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool. Peel off skins, then cut into cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, put cubed potatoes into a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring water to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow potatoes to simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, toss chopped potatoes, beetroot, red onion and apple with the dressing. Garnish with sliced boiled eggs and parsley. Leave in fridge for at least an hour to chill, then serve.
Rosolje Recipe | Vegetarian Estonian Cuisine

Ingredient notes for Beet Potato Salad (Rosolje)

  • Beetroot- This recipe is best using whole raw beetroots and roasting them in the oven. However, if you want to save time, you could also used precooked baby beetroots and skip the roasting step.
  • Sauerkraut- Although sauerkraut is optional for this recipe, it does add a nice tang (and really adds to the Eastern European vibe of the dish). You can use store-bought sauerkraut or use this recipe to make your own.
  • To make vegan– Simply sub Greek yogurt for coconut yogurt, normal mayonnaise for vegan mayonnaise, and omit the sliced egg on top.
Rosolje Recipe | Vegetarian Estonian Cuisine

Serving suggestions for Estonian Rosolje

This beetroot potato salad is a great make-ahead dish as you can leave it to refrigerate for several hours before serving. In fact, the flavours meld more the longer you leave it.

Rosolje Recipe | Vegetarian Estonian Cuisine

Beet Potato Salad (Rosolje Recipe from Estonia)

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Take classic potato salad to the next level with this vibrant Estonian rendition that includes beetroot as the star of the show. Rosolje, as its called in Estonia, integrates the tang of sauerkraut, crunch of apple and sweetness of beetroot to create a potluck worthy potato salad.

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:

  • 2 beetroots, scrubbed
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, chopped in matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut, optional
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Instructions

Make dressing:

  1. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Make salad:

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C (400ºF). Wrap beetroots in foil and place onto a baking tray and bake for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, put cubed potatoes into a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring water to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow potatoes to simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
  3. Once beetroots are ready, remove from oven and allow to cool. Peel off skins, then cut into cubes.
  4. In a large bowl, toss chopped potatoes, beetroot, red onion and apple with the dressing. Garnish with sliced boiled eggs and parsley. Leave in fridge for at least an hour to chill, then serve.

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Rosolje recipe from Estonia (beet potato salad)
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HEY THERE, I'M NICOLA!

I am on a mission to discover the BEST destinations & dishes from around the world. In fact, I’ve visited 54 countries and cooked 196 cuisines in this very pursuit. Whether it’s hopping on a plane or into the kitchen, come join the adventure!

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