Is Olivier salad the best known Russian dish? It is definitely one of the most loved and popular with Russians themselves. Olivier salad, or Russian (potato) salad, is an ‘unavoidable’ part of the New Year table, a large bowl of this tasty and filling potato salad you will find in the middle of about every family table set for a holiday gathering. Though the core of the modern Olivier salad recipe is always the same (potatoes, meats, carrots, gherkins, mayonnaise) some other ingredients may change from one recipe to another. Below is the Olivier potato salad recipe we always used in my parents’ family and it has been successfully tested on my US-born husband, multiple times!
I must mention that the modern version of the Russian salad has very little to do with the original Olivier salad. Olivier was a Belgian restaurateur who kept a famous restaurant in Moscow in the middle of 19th century. The original Olivier salad was his creation and, besides other expensive gourmet ingredients, it contained caviar, veal tongue, smoked duck, crayfish and grouse. And no potatoes! Could it be any farther from the simple and affordable modern Russian Potato Salad? But never mind! The Russian salad is quite tasty as it is made now, inexpensive and much faster and easier to make! By the way, the meat-free version of the Olivier potato salad is also not bad.
Russian potato salad (Olivier) recipe
- 160 g cooked meat (beef, chicken, beef tongue, bologna)
- 6 small potatoes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 medium carrot
- 10-12 cm cut of fresh cucumber (or 2 small “Russian” gherkins)
- 4 small pickled gherkins
- 1/2 small red onion or 1 shallot
- 1/2 small sweet apple (Cox)
- 1/2 small tin of peas or 1/2 cup frozen peas boiled for a minute and drained
- 2 TSP mayonnaise
- salt, pepper to taste
- fresh herbs (parsley, dill) for decoration
Serves 4 as a large starter or garnish
Boil carrot, eggs and potatoes together in one pot until ready (about 15 minutes). Drain the water and leave to cool. You can do this the day before you are preparing the salad.
Peel eggs and potatoes. Chop meat, potatoes, carrots, eggs, cucumber, pickled gherkins and apple into a large bowl. Chop the onions into small pieces (you can also put them in the sieve and pour some hot water though before mixing them with the rest of the salad, it will reduce the smell of the onions). Add the peas. Add the mayonnaise and mix well without smashing the ingredients. Taste the Russian salad and season with salt and pepper. Decorate and serve.
If you made a large quantity store the Russian Olivier salad in the refrigerator. Mix the mayo in right before you serve the Russian potato salad, the rest will keep better undressed.