Vinaigrette is a classic Russian beet salad. Featuring root vegetables like beets and potatoes, sauerkraut is the real star of this salad. Dressed with simple olive (or sunflower oil) vinaigrette is a simple and colorful dish that should be enjoyed all year long.

Many people believe that this colorful salad with a beautiful name is an ancient Russian recipe. But the truth is, vinaigrette is a fairly recent addition to Russian cuisine.

Culinary historians suggest that Russian salad vinaigrette was named for the French salad dressing that’s based on oil and vinegar. The salad dressing is made by dissolving salt and pepper in vinegar, adding oil and whisking it into a light emulsion. Capers, parsley, chives and other herbs are added to punch up the flavor.

But rarely will you find the Russian beet salad with such a complex dressing. The colorful name is pretty much the only thing Russian vinaigrette shares with its French culinary cousin.

Similar cold beet salads are prevalent in Anglo-Saxon cuisines of many countries. A British cookbook, circa 1845, mentions a Swedish salad that’s similar to vinaigrette and made with herring, egg whites and apples.

The classic Russian Vinaigrette uses just five ingredients (six if you add onions): beets, potatoes, sauerkraut, pickles, peas. All are available year round, unlike fresh tomatoes and cucumbers that are often found in summer salads. Oil is drizzled to taste. If you’re feeling really fancy, mix in a bit of red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice.

We love this simple recipe that takes minutes to prepare. The best part? You can make a huge batch and enjoy it for days.