Although potato salads called “Russian” have been documented since the early 1800s, the Olivier salad stands out as the origin of many of the modern versions around the World. Named after Lucien Olivier, a secretive chef who invented his signature salad in Moscow in the 1860s, it was known to include meats and seafood, capers, potatoes, and a creamy dressing similar to mayonnaise. The pugnacious revolutionary war in Russia (1917-1923) caused the migration of refugees to the rest of Europe and made the salad more popular, although modified with cheaper ingredients; peas would substitute capers, and canned tuna and eggs were used instead of fancy meats, and so on. These adaptations naturally turned the salad more accessible, and they stuck as staple ingredients even in times of peace, making tourists from other continents acquainted with this versatile salad, who then brought recipes back to their countries. My mom recalled it as “sarada” (salad), considered a fancy treat when she was in boarding school in Japan as a teenager, in the 1930s. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, recipes probably came around the same time from Spain and even Russia, some of which were meatless versions; the classic recipe is a simple mixture of cooked and cubed potatoes and carrots with peas and mayonnaise, which goes great as a side for meat dishes, or the ubiquitous side kick of club sandwiches. I have posted about this salad before, but with very few details on how to prepare my mom’s recipe, which with its extra ingredients, takes the salad to another level, as shown in this post.
Russian Potato Salad – Ensalada rusa
4 large potatoes
3 large carrots
1/2 large onion
1 cup peas (canned or thawed from frozen)
1 large apple, such as golden or red delicious
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt, as needed
Pepper, to taste
Wash potatoes, carrots, cucumber and apple; pat dry. Peel potatoes and place in a large pot; peel carrots and cut into chunks, approximately 2-3 inches long, and add to the pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables:
Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium; cover with lid and cook until vegetables are tender but still firm, about fifteen minutes. Drain water, and let cool.
Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, slice in half lengthwise and slice each half very thinly; place in non-metallic container. Peel and slice onion very thinly, and place with the cucumbers. Sprinkle generously with salt, about one tablespoon (photo below, left); mix, and weigh down by covering with a heavy plate (photo below, right):
Let rest for about half an hour. Cut cooled potatoes into small cubes and place in a large salad bowl. Cut carrots into small cubes as well, and add to the potatoes. Add peas to the bowl (photo below, left). Transfer salted cucumber and onions to a colander, and rinse with cold water (photo below, right):
Press down with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much water as possible, then add the drained veggies to the bowl. Slice unpeeled apple into quarters, remove core and seeds, and cut each quarter into cubes, or slice thinly; add to the bowl, along with the mayonnaise:
Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and mix thoroughly:
This batch was a delicious part of a festive dinner platter, as featured in a previous post:
I am sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #467, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode. UPDATE: Special thanks to Bev for featuring this recipe at her TFT #468.