Russian salad (Olivier
Russian salad or Salade russe, also known as Salade Olivier (Салат Оливье in
Russian), is a salad composed of diced potato, vegetables and sometimes meats
bound in mayonnaise.
Left: Olivier salad.
The original version of the salad was invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier,
the chef of the Hermitage restaurant, one of Moscow's most celebrated
restaurants. Olivier's salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage
regulars, and became the restaurant's signature dish.
One of the first printed recipes for the Olivier salad, by Aleksandrova,
appearing in 1894, called for half a hazel grouse, two potatoes, one small
cucumber (or a large cornichon), 3-4 lettuce leaves, 3 large crawfish tails, 1/4
cup cubed aspic, 1 teaspoon of capers and 3-5 olives and 1 1/2 tablespoon
provencal dressing (mayonnaise).
mid-20th century restaurant version involved not just vegetables, but also
pickled tongue, sausage, lobster meat, truffles, etc. garnished with capers,
anchovy filets, etc. Some versions mold it in aspic. In modern usage, it is
usually boiled diced vegetables bound in mayonnaise.
As inevitably happens with gourmet recipes which become
popularized, those of the salad's ingredients that were rare, expensive,
seasonal, or difficult to prepare were gradually replaced with cheaper and more
readily available foods.
Left: A homemade Russian Salad containing
carrots, ham, onions, pickled gherkins, eggs, sweet corn, cucumber,
peas, potato and mayonnaise.
Today's popular version of "Salade Olivier" -- containing boiled potatoes, dill
pickles, peas, eggs, carrots, and boiled beef/chicken or bologna, dressed with
mayonnaise -- only faintly
resembles Olivier's original creation. This version was a staple of any Soviet
Russian holiday dinner, especially of a New Year dinner,
due to availability of components in winter. Even though more exotic foods are
widely available in Russia now, its popularity has hardly diminished: this salad
was and maybe still is the most traditional dish for the home New Year
celebration for Russian people.
influence has influenced the popularity of the salad in Bulgaria to the point
where it is called ruska salad (руска салата)
which literally means "Russian salad," and in Greece, where you can find
"Russian Salad" on almost any restaurant's menu. The Bulgarian version of the
salad usually consists of potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles and some sort of
salami or ham. The Greek version usually contains no meat. It is also very
popular in Iran, where chicken is usually added to the recipe.
Because of a French influence on Spanish
cuisine, it is also widely consumed in Spain (where it is called ensaladilla
rusa and is popular as a Summer meal) where it typically consists of
carrots, canned tuna, eggs, peas, roast red pepper strips, green olives, potato
Left: Ensaladilla rusa, or
russian salad, as
tapas, served on a plate.