I always liked stories about dishes I prepare, because most of them are simple, warm and can lift up the atmosphere at your dining table. However, this Russian salad Olivier is a delicious treat, not only for its ingredients, but also for the affairs and intrigue that follows it. The story has twists and turns, like in some mini crime novel, and it initially took place in the nineteenth century in Russia.
Prior to the 19th century, salad was not a common dish in Russia; people ate vegetables in soups and side dishes until few nobles from Moscow began to hire French chefs to cook for them. One of those chefs was Lucien Olivier, who stayed in Russia and opened his own restaurant, where he cooked and served exquisite dishes for the members of Russian high society. Somewhere in 1860s, he invented a beautiful salad and named it salad Olivier. Since it had to be an extraordinary dish, the original version included such rare ingredients like truffles, crayfish tails, capers, and who knows what else – the recipe was a well guarded secret, and the salad was great success.
Anyway, some 40 or 50 years later, one of the Olivier helpers managed to sneak into the chefs’ private room, stole the recipe and quit his job the next day; then became a cook in another hotel, where he invented questionably similar version of Russian salad Olivier, naming it the capital salad, but as it turns out, he wasn’t as good thief as he thought he was, because his salad dressing had poorer taste than the original one. At this time, also the first recipes for the salad Olivier were published in the newspapers and immediately became popular among the Russian people. Of course, fancy and rare ingredients of the decadent original salad were one by one replaced with the more available ones, until it became a simple winter salad we prepare today.
Although it is called salad Olivier, this is done mainly in Russia and Russian speaking countries, while in the rest of the world it’s called simply the Russian salad.
My version of this old fashioned salad with two names is quite light, since it’s composed of potatoes, dill pickles, peas, carrots and hard boiled eggs, bound with the homemade vegan mayonnaise. And it taste just perfect when the weather is similar to the Russian. :)
Russian salad Olivier has one flaw, though – it taste perfect only after 6 to 8 hours after preparation. So, when you decide to make it, do it after dinner and hid it in the refrigerator until the next day…
3 cooking pans
big serving bowl
3 + 2 medium potatoes (2 for mayo)
300 grams / 10 ounces (4 bigger carrots)
300 grams / 10 ounces frozen baby peas
8 to 10 medium sour dill pickles
200 grams / 7 ounces mayonnaise (or try my homemade vegan mayo recipe)
Russian Salad Olivier Recipe:
Wash thoroughly waxy potatoes. If organic, cook them in skins; if not, peel them, place them in a pan, cover with cold water and cook until tender (not too soft). Drain them and set aside to cool.
* If you decided to make homemade mayo, two potatoes go into the food processor.
Peel and dice carrots into small cubes, place them in a pot with peas and cook for just a few minutes. When the baby peas start to get their wrinkles, drain them and set aside to cool.
Hard-boil the eggs, shell and dice them into small cubes. Add them into the serving bowl.
Cut the pickles into small cubes as well and add into the bowl. Put the mayonnaise in and gently toss with spatula.
Dice the cooled potatoes into little bit bigger cubes and place them in the bowl and the peas and carrots as well. Mix everything carefully. Cover it with some large cooking lid and put it in a refrigerator overnight. Take it out at least one hour before serving. Taste it for additional salt and lemon, or if dry a mayo.
Vegan mayonnaise recipe:
150ml / little bit less than ¾ cup sunflower oil
100 grams / 3.5 ounces mustard
juice from one lemon
½ teaspoon salt
Put the potatoes into a food processor or blender and puree it while adding oil gradually, and then all the other ingredients. Vuala, that’s it, a vegan mayo!