This Russian potato salad recipe for Olivier Salad or ensalada Rusa makes a Russian salad dating to the 1860s, when it was invented at a celebrated Moscow restaurant. Served at family meals, especially at Russian Easter and Christmas, it’s a fantastic summer salad for barbecues and picnics and filling winter salad served as a side to steak, sausages or roast.
My Russian potato salad recipe makes the modern take on the Olivier salad, which was invented by the chef of a famed Moscow restaurant in the 19th century, and popularised in the 20th century during the Soviet period. The potato salad recipe would then go on to travel the world, becoming known as ensalada Rusa everywhere from Madrid to Mexico, Barcelona to Buenos Aires.
The typical Soviet-era Russian potato salad ingredients list included potatoes, carrots, onion, peas, gherkins, and mayonnaise, which was ever-present. Mayonnaise was considered to be the glue that bound the Soviet states together. The Olivier salad was more luxurious, comprised of seasonal ingredients such as crayfish tails, caviar, smoked duck, veal tongue, grouse, and capers. While ingredients were diced, it didn’t contain potato.
I’ll share more about my Russian potato salad recipe in a moment, but first, can I ask you a favour? If you’ve made any of our recipes from Russia or beyond and have enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo so we can keep publishing recipes and food stories. This post has a list of ways you could support Grantourismo but here are a few ideas…
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Russian Potato Salad Recipe for Olivier Salad Known or Ensalada Rusa for Summer Barbecues and Picnics
My Russian potato salad recipe makes the Olivier salad that’s perhaps better known abroad as ensalada Rusa. We’ve eaten the salad everywhere from San Sebastian to Santiago, where it was typically served in small dishes as tapas or on slices of bread or toast as pinchos in Spain or pintxos in the Basque country or Catalunya.
I remember the first time I spotted ensalada Rusa at a Spanish tapas bar in Sydney and being completely shocked. Then, when I was learning Spanish at university, I was even more astonished that ensalada Rusa appeared in our food vocabulary as a typical Spanish dish from Spain and Latin America. It was then that I began to understand how food travels.
Growing up in Australia, my baboushka and mum’s potato salad recipe made a more rustic Russian salad that made an appearance at family meals for Russian Christmas and Russian Easter and at gatherings such as Christenings, birthdays, and my family’s legendary lunches that turned into dinners.
During summer, my mother would always make a Russian potato salad, alongside a Russian garden salad and beetroot potato salad for weekend backyard barbecues. My baboushka would make it for family meals and summer picnics. As a child, I would help my baba and mum, so that by the time I was a young adult, cooking meals in our own kitchen, I could make this potato salad without looking at a recipe.
It was only after we’d travelled South America and Europe, and I began eating ensalada Rusa at markets and tapas bars, that I began to tweak the traditional Russian potato salad recipe, adding ingredients such as capers, which were included in the original Oliver recipe. I’d love to know what you think of my recipe.
And if you enjoy this Russian potato salad, please try some of my other Russian family recipes for favourites such as savoury pirozhki (hand pies), stuffed cabbage rolls, kotleti (chicken meat patties), potato vareniki, pelmeni, and pan-fried Russian dumplings. We’d love to know what you think of them.
Russian Potato Salad Recipe
- 2 waxy potatoes 370g, boiled and diced
- 1 big carrot 200g, boiled and diced
- ½ white onion 100g, finely diced
- 1 small red onion 50g, finely diced
- 100 g peas fresh or frozen, defrosted, and cooked
- 2 eggs boiled and diced
- 4 gherkins finely diced
- 2 tbsp capers
- 2 radishes finely diced
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- Dice potatoes and carrots, boil them together in a pot, starting with cold water, and a pinch of salt, for about 10 minutes. Scoop a cube of potato out of the water – if you can pierce the piece easily with a toothpick, they’re ready.
- Remove the pot from the stove, drain the diced potatoes and carrots in a colander, run cold water over them, and set aside to drain completely.
- While the potatoes and carrots are bubbling away, hard-boil the eggs. When done to your liking, run the eggs under cold water, set aside to peel when cool enough to touch, then dice the eggs.
- Dice the other vegetables and pickles, chop the fresh herbs, and slide everything into a big salad.
- Add the mayonnaise, salt and pepper, dill and parsley, and gently combine but combine well. Taste, and if needed add more mayonnaise, salt and pepper, or even fresh herbs if you like.
Please do let us know if you make our Russian potato salad recipe for Olivier Salad or ensalada Rusa in the comments below, by email or on social media, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.