Olivier salad, the original dirty, damn good dish.

December 30th, 2013Russian Revels

A pile of boiled potatoes in skins, boiled carrots – not a very exciting bunch at first glance, a selection of cans and jars… Then you start peeling, cubing, slicing, chopping…

Cubes of pale potatoes in a bowl are now dotted with orange carrot, then topped with whiteness of egg white and crumbles of mimosa – like egg yolk, gherkins for sharpness, spring onion for tanginess and parsley for colour…

And here you have it – the king of all salads on a Russian table, with multiple names from posh Olivier to Stolichny, the marking of festivities, the centerpiece of each Zakuski table.

Oliver salad, vegetarian.

Oliver salad, vegetarian.

It’s a stated fact that Russians are insanely fascinated by this enigmatic dish. What’s so special about this particular bowl of salad, which makes you ask the following question when you are about to attend a festive New Years dinner: ” Is Oliver salad being served?” And the answer in 99% is “It goes without saying!”

Is it a feeling of nostalgia, innate love for mayonnaise or something else…. till this day I couldn’t find the answer. It will always remain yet another Russian enigma which is unrevealed…
But I know one thing – I am making Olivier salad for my New Year celebration and really looking forward to sharing this joy with my family and friends.

Happy New Year, dear revellers!

ps Here‘s Katrina’s musings on the very Oliver salad, with chicken, and lip-numingly cold vodka. ov corz.

Karina B.

Comments: The size of the vegetable cubes could vary – some like them quite small, some, quite chunky. Due to this fact the taste will differ slightly and I’m afraid it has to be mayonnaise for the dressing.

Russians also love decorating salads. For decorating they usually use the ingredients of the salad or a sprig of parsley or any other herb in use. Olivier is traditionally decorated with quarters of hardboiled egg and sprigs of parsley.
For the meat lovers you can add cooked beef or chicken – for this recipe you will need about 150g of cooked beef or one cooked chicken breast.
(the recipe  is from Karina’s Russia on a Plate book )


Vegetarian Oliver salad.

What you will need:

  • Serves up to 10
  • Hands on time: 30-40 minutes
  • Ingredients:
  • 450g salad potatoes, (cooked in their skins); peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, (cooked unpeeled); peeled and diced
  • 3 rounded tbsp canned peas
  • 2 large hardboiled eggs
  • 2 medium dill pickled cucumbers, diced
  • 2 tbsp spring onions or chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley, finely chopped
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp of Mayonnaise for dressing
  • Salt and pepper

What to do

  1. Cook unpeeled vegetables until tender - don’t over-cook them though; otherwise they will go mushy in the salad and then peel and cube them.
  2. Prepare all the ingredients as indicated above.
  3. Put everything into a large bowl and add peas last.
  4. Dress with mayonnaise and mix well.
  5. Season salad well with salt and pepper.