Russian salad is very popular in Romania, being a favourite on the table for the New Year, Easter or Christmas. We call it “salata de boeuf”, translated beef salad, as it usually contains beef, but we often swap it for chicken or omit it altogether. It is made from pickled vegetables like pickled cucumbers and red bell peppers, cooked beef/chicken, boiled potatoes and carrots, peas and arranged on a plate where it is covered in mayonnaise and then decorated with anything that takes one’s fancy. It is quite difficult to give a recipe, as we don’t really use precise quantities, but rather go by taste, if it tastes good, then it is ready. So the secret here is balance, we need equal amount of boiled vegetables to go with equal amount of pickled vegetables. Not enough pickles, and the salad will be plain and boring, but too many, and it will be too sour. And then all vegetables have to be chopped in small cubes, which can be a bit time consuming, depending on how much salad you make. I remember that as I child I had to give a helping hand and never really quite liked it, because I used to get bored and tired chopping, but always loved decorating it. It is so tasty and I love it.
This salad can be enjoyed as a side dish, or even on its own, as it is very filling. Because quite a lot of mayonnaise is added, the sharp taste of lemon and will restore the balance, so not to be omitted. Also, very important to add mustard too. Mum never buys ready-made mayonnaise, but makes it herself using boiled egg yolks, raw egg yolks, salt and vegetable oil. I didn’t make the mayonnaise, even if I had boiled egg yolks ready, and that was because my baby had just fallen asleep and I thought that she might wake up if I used the hand mixer to make the mayonnaise, so I gave up and used ready-made instead. That’s my story and I am sticking to it 🙂
- 6 medium potatoes
- 4 carrots
- 1 jar of pickled cucumbers or gherkins
- 1 small jar of pickled sweet peppers
- one cup of cooked peas
- 1 cup of light Heinz mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp of sweet mustard
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt to taste
- In a big pan, boil the potatoes and carrots in their skin until soft. Allow them to cool, peel and cut them into cubes.
- Separately, chop the pickles, squeeze the excess water and mix them with the potatoes, carrots and peas.
- Add 2 tbsp of mayonnaise and mix all the ingredients together.
- Season with salt to taste, add the juice of one lemon and 1 tbsp of sweet mustard. Again, feel free to add more or less lemon juice and mustard, depending on how you like it. Different people have different taste.
- Garnish with the remaining mayonnaise and feel free to decorate with strips of pickles, boiled egg whites, olives, parsley and anything you may like.
- Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.