One of my husband’s absolute favorite side dishes is Olivye, or Olivier salad. Every once in a while he will crave this dish and request that I make it with dinner, and a big batch will usually yield little to no leftovers. That’s when I know that the recipe is a hit! And if the toddler likes it? Then it’s a staple dish in our family!
This potato salad originated in Russia but is very popular in other Eastern European countries, and even Iran, Israel and Mongolia. A little history on this salad reveals that it was invented by a Belgian cook named Lucien Olivier, who was a chef in one of Moscow’s most recognized restaurants all the way back in the 1860s. The Olivier salad quickly became the restaurant’s signature dish, with customers regularly ordering it.
Now what may surprise some people who are familiar with the Olivier salad of today, is that the original recipe contained some very interesting ingredients! The original salad contained veal tongue, grouse, and smoked duck. Caviar, crayfish, capers, and even lettuce were part of the ingredient list, and the Olivier dressing was a guarded secret!
Today’s “modern Olivier salad” is actually closer to the tweaked version of the Olivier salad, called the Stolychny salad, or capital salad. One of Olivier’s sous chefs snuck into his kitchen one day and was able to make an assumption of the recipe for the salad by viewing Olivier’s prepared ingredients. He then went on to open a restaurant of his own and serve the “Stolychny salad”, which was a rough copy of the original Olivier salad. Even though the recipe for the Olivier salad was copied and discovered through the years, the exact recipe of the original dressing remains unknown!
Today, and for many years, Olivier has been prepared with a variety of ingredients. The expensive ingredients that were used in the restaurant by Lucien Olivier were replaced with cheaper products, and ingredients that were more readily available to the public. So today the modern Olivier salad is made with boiled chicken, beef or more commonly Russian sausage or bologna instead of grouse and smoked duck. In fact, the modern Olivier salad made in Russian homes today barely even resemble the original recipe.
When I initially told my husband about the original Olivier salad and the ingredients it contained, he was excited about it and expressed that he wanted me to make it! One look at that ingredient list, and I realized it would be the most expensive salad I’d ever made! I think I’ll prepare it for his birthday as a side dish! For now, we’ll stick with the modern Olivier salad that will keep our wallets and tummies happy!
What You Need:
1 Lb Russian Sausage (Kolbasa)
4 Russet Potatoes
5 Hard Boiled Eggs
3 Small Cucumbers
5 Medium Dill Pickles
1/4 Cup Green Onions
Bunch of Dill
1 Can Sweet Peas
Ground Black Pepper
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the unpeeled potatoes and carrots and boil until a knife pierces the veggies softly. Do NOT over boil the potatoes otherwise the salad will be mush, and not taste the way it’s intended to. Once these veggies are done, boil eggs to hard boiled perfection. Allow the potatoes, carrots, and eggs to cool to room temperature.
Now we’re ready for some chopping! While Olivier salad is fairly simple to prepare, there is some work involved, and that’s the chopping! Make sure all pieces are of the same or similar size when you’re chopping. Chop the kolbasa, potatoes, carrots, hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, dill pickles, green onions and combine in a large bowl. Add the sweet peas, chop the dill finely and add.
I like to add the mayonnaise first and then season the salad. Add salt to taste, ground black pepper, and Vegeta seasoning. I love the Vegeta seasoning in almost everything. Now all that’s left is mixing all the ingredients together! I definitely recommend chilling the Olivier salad in the refrigerator for about 2 hours prior to serving to really let all the flavors marry! Yum!
So, what are some traditional dishes to serve with Olivier salad? Normally, Russian appetizers or soups are served first, and then you feast on a main course accompanied by the Olivier salad. Red borscht is a delicious hearty beet and vegetable soup that I love to serve a small bowl of, to start dinner. You can find my favorite red borscht recipe here.
Next the table should have many small “zakuski” like deviled eggs, pickled vegetables, sardines, fresh cucumbers, blini, and caviar are just a few examples. A main course dish could be something like chicken plov, beef stroganoff, meat shish kabobs, or stewed potatoes with kotleti. A fresh cold salad like the Olivier is a beautiful accompaniment to a hot meal!
A traditional Russian table will have several drink options. We love Kvass and feel its flavor meshes very well with Russian cuisine. Alcoholic beverages usually include vodka, cognac and wine. You can find kvas and other delicious carbonated beverages at a local European grocery store, as well as a variety of tasty teas.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Olivier salad. No matter how your table looks, and even more important than the way the food tastes, is the most important ingredient to a great dinner- your loved ones sitting at the table with you! So give this recipe a go and invite your friends and family over for dinner!