Joy Of Spanish Cooking

Ensaladilla Rusa – Spanish Russian Salad


Labor Day weekend is just around the corner. That usually means that summer is over and everyone is back to school, college and work. I hope you all can enjoy the holiday weekend and cook a little bit.

What I have for you today is something very popular in Spain. You will find it at many restaurants and cafés, sometimes served as a tapa. You will also find it at the supermarket, frozen or fresh.  It’s called Ensaladilla Rusa or Russian Salad.

This dish is a twist on potato salad. The twist is that you add different vegetables. This particular version belongs to my grandma. She always makes the best of everything, of course 🙂

Ensaladilla Rusa has its origins in Russia— in Moscow to be exact. It was there where the Belgian chef Lucien Olivier invented this version of a potato salad, while working in the Hermitage Restaurant. The dish was extremely popular but Olivier took the original recipe to his grave.

Due to its popularity, it continued to be made, sometimes with minor regional differences. Nowadays, Russian Salad is served all over the world, but it’s a little different than the one that Olivier first made. In Spain, potatoes, carrots and peas are always present, and it is also very common to add tuna as well. This  is a refreshing and hearty salad and can be served as a main dish, or a side.

Ingredients for 5-6 servings:

For the Salad;

  • 4 big potatoes peeled and diced
  • 4 large carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 Ib peas
  • 1 big can of tuna or 2 smalls
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Optional; Chopped olives, anchovies, roasted red pepper, jamón serrano (if you want to add jamón serrano but can’t find it, you can always substitute prosciutto.
  • Mayonnaise (I made my own. You can use your own recipe, or follow mine. In a food processor, blend the egg yolk, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Then, while the food processor is still blending, slowly (very slow!) add the rest of the 1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil. Mix until it has a nice thick consistency.)

Bring a big pot to boil on medium heat. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for 20-25 minutes, until your desired doneness is reached. Meanwhile in another pot, boil the peas for a few minutes. Strain the vegetables in a colander and cool them with cold water.

Chop the boiled egg, add them to a bowl and mix with the other vegetables. Add the strained can of tuna and season with salt and pepper.

At this time, and only if desired, you can also add chopped olives, jamón, anchovies, roasted pepper, or something else you may desire.

Once everything is in the bowl, give it a good stir. Let it cool down in the refrigerator and serve cold.

(Some people mix the mayonnaise into the main salad, but in my family, we always let each person add their own desired amount at the table.)

A good alternative to your basic potato salad, which is always a summer staple.

Bon profit!

Ensaladilla russa

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Ensaladilla Rusa – Spanish Russian Salad

by Ivette time to read: 2 min
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