As its name suggests, Ensalada Rusa, Russian Salad, has its origins in Russia. Over generations, it inched its way west to Spain, Portugal and Italy, and then made the jump to South America with waves of European and Russian immigrants.
At its most simple, it consists of boiled potatoes, peas, and carrots swathed in a generous helping of mayonnaise. Served as a main dish, one can add sliced hard-boiled eggs, baby shrimp, cubed chicken or ham. Some people add beets or asparagus; it's all a matter of taste.
As with most delicious Argentinean classics, simplicity rules--the flavors speak for themselves without a lot of help from fancy additions. Ensalada Rusa is a welcome departure from a typical American-style potato salad; the peas and carrots freshen the taste, and its un-fussiness makes it simple to prepare.
Ensalada Rusa is served at holiday meals, but can be found any time of year and on any table from a brunch buffet to Christmas dinner. It's a standard in Argentina found on home tables as well as restaurants, accompanying everything from Lechon to Milanesa.
So popular is Ensalada Rusa in Argentina that the components--cubed boiled potatoes, peas, and carrots--are sold frozen together in a bag! Give this Russian-style potato salad a go at your next meal, whether its companions be as humble as those at a farmer's table or as regal as the dishes served at a czar's banquet.
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Russian-style Potato Salad
This recipe is easy to adjust for the number of servings you need. I generally assume one medium-sized potato per person, plus one for the pot, and add the other ingredients accordingly. Also, you may chop fresh carrots and boil them until soft enough to eat and use fresh, cooked peas, if that is your preference.
5 medium-sized Yukon Gold (or other potatoes used for potato salad)
1 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots mixture
1 cup mayonnaise
juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt, to taste
Peel the potatoes and chop them into 1-inch (or a little smaller) dice. Place in a medium sized stock pot and fill with water, covering the potatoes with one inch water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy.
Meanwhile, heat the frozen peas and carrots through with a small amount of water in a sauceapn. Drain both the peas/carrots and the potatoes. Let cool completely, and then, in a large bowl add the mixture and the mayonnaise. Stir to coat all the vegetables. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.
Serve in a bowl lined with lettuce leaves, if desired, or as individual servings over a lettuce leaf.