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What Is Salad Olivier?

By Eugene P.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Salad Olivier, also called Russian salad, is a dish that was created in the late 19th century in Russia. The original version included a long list of ingredients, many of which are not commonly available, including grouse, aspic and caviar. These ingredients were mixed together with a special mayonnaise, the recipe for which was never fully revealed by the salad's creator. A version of the salad became extremely popular in Russian homes, especially as a dish to be served during holidays and other celebrations. The Salad Olivier that became a staple food in the regions in and around Russia uses more readily available ingredients, such as pickles and bologna, and more closely resembles a potato salad than the original creation.

The basic Salad Olivier that is served during New Year's celebrations in Russia begins with boiled potatoes that have been cubed. These are mixed together in a bowl with — most commonly — peas, carrots and cucumbers or pickles. Other vegetables can be added to the salad, including tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery. Hard-boiled eggs are finely diced and added to the bowl, as well. The exact proportions and mixture of vegetables is different from one recipe to the next.

Nearly all the recipes for Salad Olivier call for some type of meat to be added. Unlike the authentic version, the derivative versions tend only to include one type of meat throughout the entire salad instead of small bits of different types. In Russia, the meat that is added is usually a very fine-grained sausage that resembles bologna. Some salads use chicken or shrimp, or they may include duck, country sausages or beef cut into small pieces. The meat does not have to be diced and mixed with the vegetables but can instead be served as a whole piece alongside the salad, if desired.

Whatever is included in Salad Olivier, one constant in the recipes is that the dressing is based on mayonnaise. A simple recipe might just use a few scoops of mayonnaise as the whole dressing, while other recipes might call for a dressing made form mayonnaise, mustard, spices and lemon juice. The authentic version of Salad Olivier was known to use a mayonnaise that was produced by the original chef with high quality olive oil, providing a distinctly different flavor from commercially produced varieties.

Once everything has been tossed with the mayonnaise dressing, Salad Olivier is completed. It can be served in a dish or spread on top of wedges of toast as an appetizer. The salad also can be used as a sandwich spread or as a filling for other foods, such as baked potatoes.

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