For Easter dinner, I wanted to have a side to the main course that involved Peas. I shelled and cooked a bunch yesterday (ordered luckily by mistake) and had about 1/2 cup left over. I was also craving Potato Salad, so I decided to make one that I haven't had in years - Russian Potato Salad. It's often called Olivier Salad, created by a Belgian chef in Moscow and apparently had a lot of expensive ingredients bound together by Mayonnaise. It has since evolved to become a Salad of diced, cooked Potatoes and Carrots, Peas, Pickles and usually hard-boiled Eggs. Meat can also be added - usually bits of Sausage (Knockwurst style), Ham, Beef or Chicken, but some people add cut up Hotdogs or Bologna. It's quite popular around the world and I first had it when my Mom's friend from Argentina made it and she called it Salad Russe. I've had it many other times and have seen other ingredients like pickled Beets added, which makes it a delightful pink color. I've also had it in Mexico City and in many places around Europe.
It's quite easy to make if you use store bought Mayonnaise. All you have to do is boil some chunks of Potato and add in a cut up Carrot towards the end of the cooking time. I had leftover Peas, but you can easily use thawed frozen Peas. You then cut up some Gherkin Pickles (I actually had a Russian brand in my pantry) and add cut up Eggs and Meat if you are using them. I like to flavor the Mayonnaise with a bit of the Pickle juice to make it thinner, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper and toss it all together. The traditional recipe doesn't add any Onion, but I think Red Onion is a nice addition, but I do recommend soaking the Red Onion pieces in a bit of hot, salted water to draw out the sharpness. I didn't add any Eggs or Meat to make it a bit lighter. In any case, it's a beautiful Potato Salad and it's also very delicious!
Russian Potato Salad
3 medium large Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 - 3 inch chunks
1 large or 2 smaller Carrots, peeled and cut into several segments
1/2 cup cooked or frozen and thawed Peas
1/2 cup of chopped Gherkin Pickles (can also use Dill Pickles)
3/4 - 1 cup Mayonnaise (use more if adding Eggs, Meat or Beets)
1 Tablespoon Pickle Juice
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon or more of Salt
fresh ground Pepper to taste
Optional: 1/4 cup minced Red Onion, soaked in hot, salted Water for 10 minutes
Optional: 1 - 2 hardboiled Eggs, chopped
Optional: 1/2 cup diced cooked Ham, Roast Beef, cooked Chicken or Sausage
Optional: 1/2 cup diced Pickled Beets
Place the Potatoes in a small pot and cover with Water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Then add in the Carrot and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Drain and cut up the Potatoes and Carrots into small chunks only slightly bigger than the Peas.
Place the Potato and Carrot pieces in a bowl and add the Peas and Pickles (and Eggs or Meat or Red Onion, if using). Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. In a bowl, mix together the Mayonnaise, Sugar and Pickle Juice and pour over the Potato mixture. Stir with a large spoon to coat all the ingredients. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Five Element Analysis
Potatoes and Carrots both belong to the Earth Element. Peas and Pickles add in the Wood Element. Mayonnaise contributes both Water (from the Eggs) and since it is also White and a created Sauce, it brings in the Metal Element too. If you add Onion, you bring in even more Metal. If you use Ham, it adds more Water, Beef adds more Earth and Chicken adds more Wood. So as a side dish, it contributes a good amount of both Earth and Wood to a meal and some Metal too.