Ensalada Rusa | Russian Salad

(with Vegan Option)

a plate of ensalada rusa is garnished with a few strips of roasted pepper

Ensalada Rusa, or ‘Russian salad’ is a cold full-flavored potato salad that is made with potato onion, egg, tuna fish, olive oil, and mayonnaise. In Spain, the dish is affectionately called ‘Ensaladilla Rusa’ meaning ‘Russian Little Salad’, and can be found as a staple of any tapas bar. 

In this recipe, we take the classic Ensalada Rusa recipe and add a few simple ingredients to elevate it to the next level. Vegans, we got you too! We’ve also included a vegan-friendly Ensalada Rusa recipe option too! The rich and creamy Russian potato salad comes together in around 35 minutes and this recipe makes 4 tapas servings. 

Easy Recipe | Cold Starter | Mediterranean Recipe | Mediterranean Diet | Spanish Tapas Recipe | Quick Starter | Easy Salad Recipe | Potato Recipe | Summer Recipe

Serving:

Tapas for 4

Ready in:

35 minutes

Skill level:

Very easy

Serve with:

Fresh bread

ingredients used to make ensalada rusa are laid out on a white marble benchtop

What you’ll need to make Ensalada Rusa

(Serves 4 people as a tapas)

  • 1 large potato, diced into small ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot, diced into small ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 small white onion, diced fine.
  • 100ml /3.38fl oz mayonnaise 
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cans of tuna (in olive oil)
  • 10 olives (we prefer the ones stuffed with anchovies inside)
  • 1 roasted pepper
  • 10 small pickles 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley 
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Pinch of sweet paprika

Vegan substitutions:

  • use vegan mayonnaise
  • Omit egg and tuna. Optionally you can substitute with some grated carrot.

          Equipment needed

          • 1 large pot (for boiling potatoes and carrots)
          • 1 large bowl (for mixing and preparing the salad ingredients)

          What is Ensalada Rusa?

          Ensalada Rusa is the name for a classic Russian potato salad that’s made with boiled potatoes, carrots, tinned tuna, and mayonnaise. The dish quickly became a famous Russian salad recipe and is now made all over the world under different guises and tweaks to the original recipe. Perhaps one of the most popular versions is Spain’s Ensaladilla Rusa

          Where is Ensalada Rusa from?

          The kitchen of origin for the now-famous Ensalada Rusa was inside the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow, Russia. It was first made in the 1860s by a Belgian-born chef named Lucien Olivier who created the potato salad dish which soon became a house specialty. Ensalada Rusa is often referred to as ‘Olivier Salad’ in homage to the chef. 

          The very first published Ensalada Rusa recipe appeared on the 31st of March, 1894 inside issue No. 6 of the Russian magazine Наша пища (Nasha pishcha, “Our Food”). 

          Ensalada Rusa – The International Superstar of the Salad World

          Nowadays, you’ll find Ensalada Rusa in every corner of the world, all with their own individual twist on the original recipe

          The Russian Salad original recipe calls for lobster tail, half a hazel grouse, mogul sauce, or even Doktorskaya-type sausage. Of course, you can’t make Russian Salad in Russia without some caviar too! 

          Head over to Bulgaria and the salad is made with potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles, and salami or ham.

          Our Romanian friends have gone to town and given the salad its own name, salată de boeuf (“beef salad”), and is made with a combination of finely diced beef, hardy root vegetables, mayonnaise, and topped with murături (Romanian mixed pickles).

          Central Europeans have also taken the Ensalada Rusa and renamed it, offering ingredients from capers to olives, pickles, peas, carrots, and potatoes, all mixed with mayonnaise. 

          Olivier’s original recipe was also provided to various food publications elevating the humble recipe into the international food spotlight. However, many of these recipes stated more meat-focused ingredients compared to how the salad is made more commonly today.

          a plate of ensalada rusa is garnished with a few strips of roasted pepper and some egg yolk

          Ensalada Rusa Spain

          Of course, Spain has welcomed the well-traveled salad with open arms, and Ensalada Rusa is affectionately named “Ensaladilla Rusa” or “Russian Little Salad”. You’ll find various renditions of this salad all over Spain served as a popular tapas or side dish. 

          Why is it called Ensaladilla Rusa? 

          Today, Ensaladilla Rusa is a mainstay of Spanish cooking and is affectionately known as the “Russian Little Salad”. You’ll find it absolutely everywhere, often with family recipes being handed down from one generation to the next. 

          However, this wasn’t always the case…

          After the Spanish civil war, it was forbidden to mention anything “Russian”, so to avoid conflict and keep the salad in circulation, it was briefly renamed the “Ensaladilla Nacional” or “National salad”. That’s how important this humble potato salad is to the Spanish! 

          Ensalada Rusa Ingredients

          The ingredients for Ensaladilla Rusa vary from one Spanish recipe to another (try to Google it and find two recipes that are the same!), however, most are typically made with the following core ingredients; 

          • Diced boiled potatoes
          • Diced boiled carrots
          • Tinned tuna fish
          • Hard-boiled eggs
          • Peas
          • A sauce-base made with mayonnaise

          Other ingredients that are commonly found in Spanish versions of Ensaladilla Rusa include;

          • Chives
          • Diced Onion (red or white)
          • Dijon Mustard
          • Extra virgin olive oil
          • Capers
          • Green Olives
          • Roasted pepper
          • Anchovies
          • Paprika

          Typically in Spain, Ensaladilla Rusa is made without meat, but every now and then, you’ll even find a tapas ‘ensalada rusa con pollo’ which includes diced chicken.

          How to make vegan Ensalada Rusa

          This recipe can be easily adapted to suit vegetarian or vegan diets. Omit the egg and tuna and use plant-based vegan mayonnaise for vegans and just omit the tuna for vegetarians. As the tuna fish in the original recipe adds some olive oil, you may need to add some additional good-quality olive oil to the recipe to get the right consistency. 

          And that’s it! You’ve now got a healthy vegetarian or vegan-friendly Ensalada Rusa

          Vegan Ensalada Rusa ingredients list:

          • 1 large potato, diced into small ½-inch cubes
          • 1 large carrot, diced into small ¼-inch cubes
          • 1 small white onion, diced fine.
          • 100ml /3.38fl oz vegan mayonnaise 
          • 10 olives 
          • 1 roasted pepper
          • 10 small pickles 
          • Extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
          • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
          • Salt and pepper to taste
          • Sweet paprika 
          A jar of Vegan mayonnaise sits on a supermarket shelf

          How to make Ensalada Rusa 

          One of the best things about any Ensalada Rusa recipe is they’re really easy to make. In fact, you can even save a bunch of time and use a frozen veggie mixture that has potatoes, peas, and carrots. Then all you need to do is thaw them before use and you’re good to go. 

          If you’re planning to use fresh potatoes and carrots, you’ll need a large pot big enough to boil your potatoes and carrots, and then a large bowl for mixing and serving salad. Once mixed, simply add the desired amount of seasoning and mix well before serving. 

          How to serve Ensalada Rusa

          A quick scan on Pinterest for Ensalada Rusa or Ensaladilla Rusa and you’ll find literally hundreds of different presentation methods, some good, some strange. The international pin-up salad of the year certainly sports a few different looks. 

          Here at Spanish Radish HQ, we prefer what can be only described as the ‘potato salad  mound’. It’s easy to make and doesn’t require any fancy tools or techniques. Just grab a spoon and dollop on a mound of your Ensalada Rusa, then garnish to taste. 

          a plate of ensalada rusa is garnished with a few strips of roasted pepper and some egg yolk

          Is Ensalada Rusa healthy?

          In all honesty, I don’t think anyone has ever looked at half a tub of mayonnaise and considered it a healthy option! 

          Of course, one of the main ingredients for Ensalada Rusa is mayonnaise, so it’s always going to be high in fat. Combine that with a high salt content from the tinned tuna, and you’ve got yourself the Elvis of the salad world. 

          Here in Spain, Ensalada Rusa is served as a small tapas along with some sliced bread. Portion size is typically around 100 grams per serving, and in that portion size, here are the nutritional facts: 

          Calories425
          % Daily Value*
          Total Fat 20.4g26%
          Saturated Fat 4g20%
          Cholesterol 157mg52%
          Sodium 1582mg69%
          Total Carbohydrate 30g11%
          Dietary Fiber 4.8g17%
          Total Sugars 6g 
          Protein 30.9g 
          Vitamin D 12mcg58%
          Calcium 59mg5%
          Iron 3mg17%
          Potassium 885mg19%
          a plate of ensalada rusa is garnished with a few strips of roasted pepper

          Ensalada Rusa - Russian Salad

          Byron
          In this recipe, we take the best Ensalada Rusa recipe and add a few simple ingredients to elevate this classic recipe to the next level. Vegans, we got you too! We’ve also included a vegan-friendly recipe option too! The rich and creamy Russian potato salad comes together in around 35 minutes and this recipe makes 4 tapas servings.
          5 from 5 votes
          Prep Time 5 mins
          Cook Time 15 mins
          Cooling time: 15 mins
          Total Time 35 mins
          Course appertizer, Side Dish, starter, tapas
          Cuisine American, Authentic Spanish recipe, Russian
          Servings 4 tapas servings
          Calories 425 kcal

          Equipment

          • 1 large pot (for boiling potatoes and carrots)
          • 1 large bowl (for mixing and preparing the salad ingredients)

          Ingredients

          • 1 large potato diced into small ½-inch cubes
          • 1 large carrot diced into small ¼-inch cubes
          • 1 small white onion diced fine.
          • 100 ml /3.38fl oz mayonnaise
          • 3 eggs
          • 2 cans of tuna in olive oil
          • 10 olives we prefer the ones stuffed with anchovies inside
          • 1 roasted pepper
          • 10 small pickles
          • Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste
          • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
          • Salt and pepper to taste
          • Pinch of Sweet paprika

          Instructions
           

          Step 1 - Prepare ingredients

          • First, heat some water in a large pot. Next, chop up the potato and carrot into small cubes. Once the water is boiling, add the potato and carrot and boil for 15 minutes. At the 5-minute mark, add the eggs to the pot to hard-boil them.
            1 large potato, 1 large carrot, 3 eggs
            two hands are chopping up some potato on a large white chopping board
          • Meanwhile, dice the small onion, olives, pickles, and parsley. Set aside for use later.
            1 small white onion, 10 olives, 10 small pickles, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
            chopped and diced ingredients sit beside some ramakins of salt and pepper
          • Test that the potato and carrot are ready with a knife. They should be soft but not falling apart. Once cooked remove from the water and strain any excess liquid.
            1 large potato, 1 large carrot
            a large pan of boiled potatoes and carrots

          Step 2 - Mix the salad.

          • Add the cooked potato and carrot, onion, olives, and pickles to a large bowl.
            a large bowl is filled with ingredients for an ensalada rusa
          • Allow the hard-boiled eggs to cool and remove the shells. Separate the cooked whites from the yolk and set aside the yolk for use later. Dice the egg whites into small pieces and add them to a large salad bowl. Mix in the tinned tuna
            3 eggs, 2 cans of tuna, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt and pepper
            two hands peel hard boiled eggs bbeside some prepared ingredients for ensalada rusa
          • Add around 2/3 of the mayonnaise and mix all ingredients well with a large wooden spoon.
            100 ml /3.38fl oz mayonnaise
            mayonnaise is added to alrge bowl full of ensalada rusa ingredients

          Step 3 - Garnish and serve

          • To serve, dollop some of the potato salad mixture onto a plate, and form a circle. Next, smear some of the remaining mayonnaise onto the salad, then sprinkle some of the crumbled egg yolks over the top. Garnish with a few small strips of roasted pepper, a pinch of paprika, some sliced olives, and some chopped chives or parsley.
            1 roasted pepper, Pinch of Sweet paprika
            a plate of ensalada rusa is garnished with a few strips of roasted pepper and some egg yolk

          Video

          Notes

          Storage:

          Ensalada Rusa will keep up to 2 days when refrigerated in an airtight container. 

          Nutrition

          Serving: 100gCalories: 425kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 30.9gFat: 20.4gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 157mgSodium: 1582mgPotassium: 885mgFiber: 4.8gSugar: 6gCalcium: 59mgIron: 3mg
          Keyword 30-minute-meal, easy recipe, easy to make, Ensalada rusa, mash potato, Oliver Salad, Potato salad, Russian Salad, Tuna, vegan

          Ensalada Rusa Cooking Tips and FAQs

           

          Is it hard to make Ensalada Rusa?

          Ensalada Risa is very easy to make and requires very little cooking. 

          • Prep time: 5 minutes
          • Cook time: 15 minutes
          • Cooling time: 15 minutes
          • Total time: 35 minutes. 

          Is Ensalada Rusa vegan?

          Ensalada Rusa contains animal products (tuna fish, mayonnaise, eggs) and is not considered suitable for vegans or vegetarians. 

          Can Ensalada Rusa be made Vegan?

          It sure can, simply follow this recipe guide and use vegan mayonnaise. Omit the tuna fish and eggs and you’ve got a tasty vegan version of Ensalada Rusa.

          Where does Ensalada Rusa come from?

          Ensalada Rusa originated in Russia in the 1860s where the head chef of The Hermitage in Moscow, Lucien Olivier, created the now famous potato salad recipe. 

          What’s the difference between Ensalada Rusa and Ensaladilla Rusa? 

          In most countries (including the US and Russia) the famed Potato salad goes by the name Ensalada Rusa (literally ‘Russian Salad’). In Spain, you’ll find the same dish called ‘Ensaladilla Rusa’ which literally translates to ‘Russian Little Salad’.

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