At many barbecue parties around the world you’ll find classic dishes that accompany the main attraction of meats. In Korea you’ll see different types of kimchi and pickled vegetables. In the Caribbean, rice and beans and plantains. In the U.S., potato salad, cole slaw, and corn. One of the classics in Argentina is ensalada rusa, or russian salad. Ensalada rusa is probably one of the most popular side dishes in Argentina for a variety of foods and occasions.
The original “russian salad” was supposedly invented by a French chef named Lucien Olivier at the Hermitage Restaurant in Moscow, Russia around the 1860′s. Named salads or their dressings always seem to have a debate, myth, or mysterious history in regards to who invented them, the original name, where they were invented, and the original recipe. Hmmm, I think I’ll let you seek that out for this salad. In current times many countries or regions have their own variations to the “russian salad” but the basic components are root vegetables and/or meats mixed with mayonnaise. The Argentinean version of ensalada rusa at its most basic level, and it doesn’t stray too far from that, is quite simple: potatoes, carrots, peas, and mayonnaise. Some may add beets, eggs, ham, or anything else to give it a personal touch but the typically the common form contains only those four ingredients previously listed.
Ensalada rusa is very easy to make and preparation falls more into the class of “to taste” instead of measurements. Some like to do equal proportions of potatoes, peas, and carrots while others like a lot more of one ingredient than the other. Me, I like my ensalada rusa with more potatoes and here is an approximation of what I prepare.
2 cups boiled potatoes, diced small*
1/2 cup cooked peas
1/2 cup cooked carrots, diced small
Salt to taste if needed
*Cook the potatoes however you like but I prefer to keep them whole with the skins on while boiling. Then when cooled, peel and dice them.
In a large bowl, add potatoes, carrots, and peas. Gently fold in mayonnaise spoonful by spoonful, so as not to break up the potatoes, until the vegetables are lightly coated or whatever consistency you prefer. Don’t go overboard since some cringe when they see too much mayonnaise. You can always place extra mayonnaise on the table at serving time for those who like their salads heavy.
Mmmm, once again, simplicity at its best.