Russian Salad – Ensalada Rusa

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
Mayonnaise
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.

Ensalada Rusa - Russian Salad

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28 Comment(s)

  1. simple, but that really looks delish. Yum i have to make that!

    aria | Jan 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Usually I’m not too fond of ensalada rusa – for me it’s like a potato salad gone wrong… but now and again, I find one I like: http://www.saltshaker.net/20060428/from-russia-with-love

    Dan | Jan 6, 2007 | Reply

  3. Thanks Aria!

    Dan:
    Yeah it has nothing on the picnic potato salad I grew up on with celery, pickles, eggs, onions, mayo, vinegar, and a touch of mustard but I like it. Granted, I’ve had many bad versions like with canned peas and carrots and cheap mayo.

    The one on your post looks really good.

    Administrator | Jan 8, 2007 | Reply

  4. Yum! It looks delicious. Simplicity is the secret, and the beautiful colors too!
    M
    P.S. Happy New Year from Panama!

    melissa_cookingdiva | Jan 11, 2007 | Reply

  5. Thanks Melissa and Happy New Year too!

    Asado Arg | Jan 13, 2007 | Reply

  6. Great recipe. It is nice and simple, and that’s what makes ensalada rusa so good.

    2 comments.

    -I think it makes a difference if the mayonnaise has lime or lemon juice in it.
    -I think hard boiled eggs are a common ingredient as well.

    JonB | Jan 22, 2007 | Reply

  7. Hi, thanks for the tips and recipes on the site. I found it googling for entrana. I am Italian. Here we make “insalata russa” with the same ingredients, but for us it is rather an appetiser than a salad. We slice potatoes and carrots in smaller pieces than shown on your picture and add more mayo to the mix. As said before for us it is more of an appetiser (antipasto) and we use it at the beginning of the real meal with parma ham, seafood and other tasty and appealing stuff. For what concerns nutrition, actually, an “antipasto” should be enough, but in occasions like the recent Cristmas Holidays one tends to… overdo it. Ciao.

    Gianni | Jan 22, 2007 | Reply

  8. Nice try but the reason half of you are not satisfied with this salad is because half of the recipe is really missing….i am russian so i know this,lol…u need to add cubed pickles or cucumber to it and some sort of meat or poultry ,little pieces of it and egg crushed of course..then try it…it will definatley make a difference…anyways if you really want to try the real thing i suggest u get the correct recipe from
    http://www.russianfoods.com/recipes/item00003/default.asp
    Enjoy! :)

    Svetlana | Feb 9, 2007 | Reply

  9. That recipe looks great Svetlana, thanks. Would be interesting to know the reasoning of why the main version here was dumbed down to only carrots, peas, and potatoes. All of the other ingredients are popular in Argentina for salads.

    Asado Arg | Feb 13, 2007 | Reply

  10. Hello! this recipe is listed under Argentinian ensalada russa. This just happened to be the way they make in Argentina. The question on why they leftout all the other ingredients is propably a very simple one, dated who know how far back. I love it this carrot and pea way for the simple reason that its used as a side dish in Argentina if it did have all the other ingredients it would be a very heavy side dish and probably not complement the main dish.

    lola | Sep 12, 2007 | Reply

  11. Thanks for the input lola!

    Asado Arg | Sep 13, 2007 | Reply

  12. You know I used to make this a lot when I lived in Spain “ensalada Russia” but we used put Shredded White Tuna in it. It really was great!

    Woody | Oct 15, 2007 | Reply

  13. Hey Woody,

    That sounds like a great combo! It’s really cool to hear about the different varietions out there. Keep em coming!

    Asado Arg | Oct 15, 2007 | Reply

  14. My friend’s mother (visiting from Peru) made this salad last night, it had beets in it. It was delicious. And was a pretty side dish too, with a slight pink tint.

    suz | Nov 1, 2007 | Reply

  15. My son is spending this semester in Argentina. He just emailed to tell me to google Russian salad, he liked it! Thanks for the recipe so I can try it!

    Sue Lewis | Feb 1, 2008 | Reply

  16. The most imortant ingredient is red beet´s……..

    George | Mar 19, 2008 | Reply

  17. I am originally from Chile and my grandmother’s recipe for this salad has a few additions and still is a light Potato Salad. I also prefer to boil the potatoes and carrots in salted water, without peeling them. That way they do not get “mushy”. Try yellow Yukon potatoes. They are the best!
    **1/4 C Diced sweet onions
    **3T lemon juice (like JohnB comments)
    **2 T Chopped Italian parsley (flat parsley).
    **2 hard boiled eggs diced in cubes.
    **3 T cooking oil
    **Salt and pepper to taste
    Mix all ingredients gently and try it without the Mayonnaise. I tastes really good. I serve the Mayonnaise in a bowl on the side.
    NOTE: It tastes good with the pickled beets, but I do not like the appearance.

    Maria Rector | Mar 23, 2008 | Reply

  18. Thanks for the recipe Maria!

    Asado Argentina | Mar 26, 2008 | Reply

  19. I was in Mendoza, Argentina a while back and had some Ensalada Ruso. The restaurant added some horseradish to the mix and it went really well with the beef entree.

    JD | Apr 12, 2008 | Reply

  20. Hey JD,

    I’ve made that a couple of times and the flavors really do go well together.

    Asado Argentina | Apr 15, 2008 | Reply

  21. Made this today along with an ambitious meat bbq and it was a big hit. I liked how the sweet peas balanced out the rest of the flavors. I had to add a little lemon juice to liven it up though. Will try the beets next time,

    Kris | May 24, 2008 | Reply

  22. I love Ensalada Russa, I do it just like this but i add a few more goodies. I put 3 chopped hard boiled eggs, a cup of olives with the pimentos inside ( i cut them in halves), and decorate it with a few tomato wedges. :)

    gabriela | Jun 23, 2008 | Reply

  23. Nice. I love the picture. I am a purist, and the purist in me says that the basic rusa described here it perfect. The best time for me to make it in Utah is Fall, with fresh potatoes from Southern Idaho. I have to make the trip to the “La Pequenita” supermercado and get fresh mayonesa – but late fall havested carrots are super sweet, farmer’s market peas are usually second or third crop, again delicious, but the fresh Idaho bakers, boiled, cubed and served along side a nice Medium rare steak – it’s heaven. After dinner, un buen mate, con flan, y vainillas. Thanks Amigo

    Yerba1 | May 21, 2009 | Reply

  24. The original Ensalada Rusa is the origial posted here. If you add, for example, bits and pieces of chiken, it is now what argentinians call “ensalada de ave” (poultry salad). It is still, de-li-cious, but you should change the name in your menu. ;)

    Mario C | Jun 7, 2009 | Reply

  25. I agree with Lola and Mario C. that is why when refering to this salad I always say “Argentine Ensalada Rusa”. I love all potatoe salads but this simple recipe is my favorite. Next time I make it I’ll take your tip to boil the potatoes whole with the skins on.

    Loly | Jun 15, 2009 | Reply

  26. Hi! Quick question… how many servings is your Ensalada Rusa for?

    Thank you!

    Silvia | Aug 20, 2009 | Reply

  27. I’ve been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: http://www.foodista.com/blogbook/submit

    Cheers,
    Melissa

    melissa@foodista.com
    Editor and Community Developer
    Foodista.com — The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

    Melissa | Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

  28. Hey there!! I added a link to this post in my post today. I can’t believe how long it took me to post about what is one of the most common dishes in Argentina! Cheers!

    Rebecca | Dec 30, 2009 | Reply

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