Today, we are going to Russia for a simple yet very tasty salad called Olivier salad.
Olivier salad just reminded me of my childhood and the lunches at the school cafeteria with the famous mayo-drenched vegetable salad called macedoine… except that this version is more sophisticated and fancier.
The main ingredients of the Olivier salad are diced potatoes, vegetables, eggs and chicken (or ham) to which mayonnaise is incorporated. This salad has become an essential appetizer for the salad buffets of New Year meals in Russia and in the countries of the former USSR.
What is the origin of Olivier salad?
The original version of Olivier salad was created by Lucien Olivier in the 1860s. Lucien Olivier was then the chef of the famous French restaurant in Moscow called L’Hermitage. The version of the original famous salad has not much to do with the one we know today. Depending on the season, the Olivier salad could in fact contain grouse, veal tongue, caviar, crayfish tails, capers and smoked duck. The recipe for the sauce that accompanied the salad has always been a secret, even if we assume it was a kind of mayonnaise.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Ivan Ivanov, a sous-chef of Olivier took advantage of a moment of absence of the chef to steal the salad’s recipe. Shortly after, Ivanov was the chef at Moskva restaurant and began to serve a salad very similar to his mentor’s salad, but with the name Capital Salad (Stolichny).
In 1905, the Hermitage restaurant closed and the recipe for Olivier salad began to be published in various publications. Various adaptations of this salad began to make their appearance during the Soviet period with a little less noble ingredients than during the Tsarist period in order to make it accessible to the masses.
The variants of Olivier salad
There is not one but dozens of versions of the Olivier salad, even if the version that is now known throughout the world is close to the one I am posting today. The major difference lies in the fact that some versions use ham while others use boiled or smoked chicken. The version with chicken is often called Stolichny salad in the ex Soviet states, but it is called Olivier salad everywhere else.
Olivier Salad is known in many countries, often under the name of Russian salad, not only in the countries of the former USSR but also in Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Pakistan, Spain, Turkey, Poland and even Argentina and Uruguay.
I very rarely make salads with proteins (other than eggs) but I think I’m going to start because you don’t really have to prepare a main course! Yes, I am a big slacker! Everything in this Olivier salad: vegetables, meat and even a healthy dose of cholesterol with mayonnaise and eggs. Well, after all, you can adjust the dose of mayonnaise to your liking. For my part, being more or less on a diet right now, I have not used too much mayonnaise and I added a little more mustard.
Our place is also currently being remodeled so the kitchen is not really accessible. I have to say this rich and comfort Olivier salad has helped me for 3 days. I tripled the dose of the recipe and luckily the whole family loved it. It is clear that I will make this quick and easy Russian potato salad quite frequently from now on!
- ½ lb chicken breast
- 2 medium potatoes , boiled, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots , boiled, peeled and diced
- ½ lb peas (fresh or frozen)
- 3 hard boiled eggs , finely diced
- 3 large dill pickles (gherkin), diced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 4 oz. mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- Fresh dill
- Thyme (optional)
Boil the chicken for at least 20 minutes, until fully cooked.
Dice the chicken.
Mix the chicken with the eggs, pickles, peas, boiled potatoes and boiled carrots.
Add dill (to taste) and thyme. Add salt and pepper.
Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard only to the portion of salad that you will eat that same day. The salad will keep better without.
Serve chilled with a little dill, boiled eggs and tomatoes into thin slices to decorate. For a nice presentation, use a cookie cutter (like in the pictures).