Jota and red beet
Do you ever find yourself busily working when lunch time rolls around and you just want to eat something very quick, but also it have to be healthy? This even happens to us, that’s why we decided to prepare jota (pronounced yota), one of the famous Balcan dish.
An interesting fact is that we used two preserved foods for lunch: sauerkraut for jota and preserved red beets for salad. Leaving aside the fact that sauerkraut is delicious, in both cases preserved food has traditionally been used primarily to prevent spoilage and to allow the vegetables to be stored for extended periods. However, there is a significant difference between sauerkraut and red beet.
Cabbage is acidified because of lactic acid bacteria. For this purpose, cabbage only need to be grated, salted, squeezed and well closed. Salt, which should be about 2% and the absence of air, prevents mold and rot. Lactic acid bacteria naturally occurs on cabbage and develop smoothly, converting sugar into lactic acid, which completely preserves the cabbage and prevents it from spoiling. Due to this method of preparation, sauerkraut contains live lactic acid bacteria which are very beneficial for our health.
We also used preserved beets, but these are very different. First the red beets is boiled, peeled, sliced, put into glass jars, covered with vinegar, heated and sealed. In this case, the canning is partly provided by heat (so-called pasteurization) and partly by vinegar. Vinegar contains acetic acid, but since we do not want to change the taste of red beet flavored with apple or wine vinegar, we usually use pure alcohol vinegar. Thus, beetroot infused with vinegar does not contain probiotic bacteria but it contains many other nutrients though.
This dish is essentially a soup of sauerkraut, often with potatoes and sausage included in it. This makes it very easy to make vegan as the meat can be replaced with beans. It is quick, easy, and very yummy!
Recipe, cost, and nutritional value
Preparing this meal is very quick seeing as the cabbage has already been prepared for us in the making of saurkraut! We just roast the saurkraut in oil, add in water, cook it, and then add beans and potatoes. We chose to use canned beans, but you could also cook the beans yourself.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes before cooking them in salted water. Remember, smaller cubes cook faster! It is very important to cook the potatoes separately from the cabbage otherwise they would not soften due to the acid in the saurkraut preventing the cell walls from breaking down.
The price for our lunch came out to 3.26€, or under one euro per person. The price would have been even lower if we hadn't bought premade sourkraut and canned beans. Since we decided on this lunch at the last minute though, we did not have time for these options.
This dish saved us from our hungry bellies and let us get on with our busy day in a hurry. It contributed only 15% of our daily caloric needs and was not as nutritious as some of our meals but still did a good job in some areas. Fiber and iron were both incorporated in good amounts as were magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and K, and some others. Protein, calcium, zinc, selenium, and vitamins A, D and B12 were all lower than we would like.
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Have a great week!
The hungry Pumpkin Team