Russian Salad or Olivier Salad, a traditional salad in Russia and many other European countries. It's a favourite dish in Romania too, especially during the main holidays throughout the year. The salad is usually made with boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, meat (can be either beef or chicken), pickled cucumbers (gherkins) and red peppers, all dressed in plenty of mayo.
This Russian potato salad is a very popular dish in all post-soviet countries, being a favourite on the table for the New Year, Easter or Christmas. We call it "salata de boeuf", or Boeuf Salad, translated beef salad, as it usually contains beef, but we often swap it for chicken or omit it altogether. "Boeuf" is actually a French word, but we hardly ever used it though.
TIPS AND TRICKS
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. But trust me, it's so worth all the chopping and decorating, I cannot tell how tasty all this is. It's safe to say we have made it into one of our traditional dishes that we absolutely adore as a nation.
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.
Now, I like cooking and stuff, but I can't be bothered with homemade mayo, hence why I go for the store-bought version. Which is safer, since it's pasteurized, raw eggs should be avoided if they do not come from a reliable source.
HOW TO MAKE RUSSIAN SALAD
The potatoes and carrots need to be boiled, ideally in their skin, rather than peeled and chopped, then boiled. They keep their shape a lot better if they are boiled in their skin, and are less watery.
- boil the potatoes and carrots, leave to cool, then chop
- chop the gherkins and red peppers, and use your hands to squeeze as much liquid as possible - otherwise the salad will be watery after a while
- add the cooked peas and chicken, mix with the mayo, lemon juice, salt and yellow mustard, and arrange on a plate
- decorate with more mayo
- keep refrigerated - the salad tastes a lot better cold from the fridge
A FANTASTIC ALTERNATIVE TO THE CLASSIC POTATO SALAD
This Russian Potato Salad is the best alternative you can get to the more common potato salad, which is usually made with mayo too. The pickles make all the difference though, and work incredibly well with the boiled vegetables. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't find plain boiled potatoes and carrots that appetizing.
But mix them with pickles, drench them in mayo, add a bit of magic, aka lemon juice, salt and mustard, and you get perfection. You can use any other mustard, but I find that the yellow one has the right amount of sharpness, without stealing the show.
It's best to consume the salad within two days, especially if you use homemade mayo. Even with the pasteurised mayo, it should be refrigerated at all times!
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- 6 medium potatoes
- 4 carrots
- 1 jar of pickled cucumbers or gherkins (400 g, 13 oz)
- 1 small jar of pickled red peppers (200 g, 7 oz)
- 1 cup cooked peas
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt to taste
- 1 cup cooked chicken breast
- In a big pan, boil the potatoes and carrots in their skin until tender. 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, peas and chicken.
- Add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix all the ingredients together.
- Season with salt to taste, add the juice of one lemon and the 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.