My food journey started with this dish. I never used to cook much, and frankly, I didn't really enjoy it. It was about 5 years ago, at my in-laws' house, when I first tried Salade Olivier. I instantly fell in love, and felt compelled to learn how to make it. My mother-in-law did not make this salad much, and I couldn't fathom the fact that it would be months before I would taste it again. I wanted to eat this salad when I wanted, and as much as I wanted. What did I do? I asked my mother-in-law to teach me how to make it. I didn't care how labor intensive it was, I just wanted to learn how to make it.
My mother-in-law was such a joy to cook with that our so-called 'cooking classes' became a regular thing. Through the process, I learned to cook many traditional Persian dishes that utilized unfamiliar techniques and ingredients. This excited me. My time with my mother-in-law opened my eyes to their beautiful culture. More importantly, it was my husband's culture. I am so thankful that I got to spend that time with his mom because I finally understood him in a very personal and unspoken way.
From there, I not only saw food and cooking in a whole different light, but I began to appreciate different cultures for their traditional beauty.
Salade Olivier, also called Russian salad, was invented in the late 1800's by Lucien Olivier, then owner and chef of Moscow's popular Hermitage restaurant. Salade Olivier was considered a signature dish at the Hermitage restaurant, and the complexity of my recipe comes no where close to the original. I read on wiki that the original salad contained ingredients such as veal tongue, crayfish tails, and grouse.
Although this salad originated from Russia, it has become a traditional dish in other parts of the world such as Iran and the Ukraine.
This recipe yields 6-8 servings.
- 5 white potatoes
- 3 dill pickles
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 1/2 cup of green peas, frozen
- 3 carrots, peeled
- 1 chicken breast
- 3 eggs
- 4 Tbsp of white vinegar
- 4 Tbsp of light mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- salt and pepper
1. In a small pot, simmer 2 cups of water with the chicken breast, onion, carrots, turmeric, and some salt for 45 minutes. Allow to cool, and discard the onion. Shred the chicken breast into small pieces with your hands. Cut the carrots into small cubes.
2. In another pot, boil the potatoes and eggs. Remove the eggs after 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes when tender. Crack the eggs, peel them, and cut into small pieces. Peel the potatoes when they have cooled. Cut the potatoes into small pieces.
3. In a small pot, cook the frozen peas according to package instructions. Cut the pickles into small cubes. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, chicken, carrots, pickles, peas, and eggs.
4. In a separate bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking the mayonnaise and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the potato salad, and mix well. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
It may not seem as though there is enough dressing at first, but this salad does not need a lot of it. You can eat this salad plain or with bread. My choice is pita bread.