Saturday, March 1, 2014

Polish Sauerkraut Salad--for Health Reasons

I admit that I have never planed or imagined to post today's recipe but it came up as a kind of emergency response. A friend of mine has been on a long-term antibiotic treatment. Because of that she has been suffering from stomach problems despite high doses of probiotic supplements that she has been taking along with her medications. After many complaints, her doctor advised her recently to add sauerkraut to her daily diet as a source of natural probiotics--good bacteria that can protect her intestinal tract from being totally sterilized. So she bought the best sauerkraut from the Whole Foods and called me for suggestions on how to prepare it.

Coincidentally, I have just read an article about how American doctors have been opening up to fermented food, known in other parts of the world, as a source of good bacteria that the processed food cannot provide. Sauerkraut was on that healthy list next to the so well-known in Poland half-sour pickles (in brine), sour milk (kefir), or Asian kimchi.

There is basically only one classic recipe for raw sauerkraut salad I can think of--a simple salad that we serve with meats, mostly pork chops in bread crumbs, or fish. When I compared some Polish recipes they all looked very similar and included onion and carrot. Some also added apple, but even without them the salad is sour enough, so you can skip the apples. However, hardly any of these recipes mentioned caraway seeds which in my home have always been added to all cabbage dishes to help digest them and neutralize the rather vigorous stomach reaction that cabbage sometimes causes. I love the taste of caraway seeds, particularly in this salad, but you either love them or hate them (like fennel seeds) so it is up to you. Either way, today's sauerkraut salad is a real trove of healthy nutrients as besides the probiotics it is also rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins B and C.

Polish Sauerkraut Salad

2 lb sauerkraut,
2 large carrots,
1 medium onion,
1 tsp caraway seeds,
2 tbsp sugar,
4 tbsp vegetable light oil (canola, rice bran, or grape seed),
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley, freshly ground pepper to taste.

1.Drain the sauerkraut on a colander and place in a large bowl.
2. Peel off and grate the carrots on a grater with large holes.
3. Peel off and chop the onion.
4. Add carrot, onion, parsley, and caraway seeds to cabbage and mix.

5. Season the salad with sugar, pepper, and oil. Mix again. Let marinate for 20 minutes and serve.