04 August, 2011

Olivie aka Russian salad


Ask any Russian what dish is ALWAYS served at any festive occasion and chances are he/she will say: "Olivie".  Together with red caviar, pierogies, and salted herring, this yummy salad with a French name is a Soviet/Russian culinary staple.  BTW this salad is especially successful with small children and picky eaters!
Just like any other folk recipe, Olivie salad has several versions.  I am giving my favorite basic recipe, but feel free to adjust the quantities.

What you need:

4-5 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
2-3 hard-boiled eggs
1 small onion
2 pickles
1 can of green peas (you can use an equivalent amount of steamed/boiled frozen peas)
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise OR mix equal amounts of mayo and sour cream
salt and pepper

 What to do:
  • Boil carrots and potatoes until soft, but not over-cooked.  Let them cool and then cube finely (~1/4 inch)
  • Finely cube the eggs.  Alternatively you can mash them roughly with a fork.
  • Finely dice pickles and onions.  If onions are very strong, rinse under cold water and pat dry.
  • Mix all the vegetables and add mayonnaise.  The preferred amount of mayo varies from person to person.  In general, Russians add a lot of it to their salads.  I usually start with  a couple of spoons and then adjust after tasting. 
  • Add salt and pepper.

Tips and Suggestions: 

For a fancier dressing add a splash of lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, and a little bit of cucumber brine.
Originally, Olivie is not a vegetarian dish: diced ham or roasted chicken meat is added to the vegetable mix.
Some cooks add diced apples or even green grapes in the salad - although it sounds quite unusual, I encourage you to give it a try.

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