Ensaladilla Rusa: Spanish Potato Salad
Ensaladilla Rusa actually means "little Russian salad." As far as I know, it doesn't really have much to do with Russia at all! In fact, I believe it is a purely Spanish delicacy. Ensaladilla Rusa is a cold, refreshing potato salad a la mayonnaise that has no crunchy (nasty) onions and no strange flavors like horseradish or mustard. I like all three of the previously mentioned things in the correct context—in my opinion, they have no business in a potato salad.
I don't really like American potato salad. I skip it at a cook-out (as we call it in the South; a barbecue if you are from the West coast), and I never offer to bring it if I sign up to make something at home to share. But on second thought, I may need to start making this Spanish potato salad and sharing it with my friends and family.
Every time we fly to Spain, one of the first meals I put together is ensaladilla Rusa, although I could make it at home in America, too. Usually, we are jet-lagged and suffering from alternate bouts of nausea, lack of appetite, and feed-me-now-or-I-will-sue-you hunger. I walked across the street to the little multitienda just the other day and picked up the cans of food I needed to throw this dish together. My husband and son were very happy to eat something so quick, easy, and compatible with the suffocating Sub-Saharan African heatwave.
- 4–6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 eggs, boiled and chopped
- 1 can green peas, (substitute frozen)
- 1 can tuna, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 small can/jar red bell peppers
- 1 2–4 oz can black olives (optional), drained
- Eggs and Potatoes: Put two large pots of salted water to boil on your stove. To one, add the eggs. To the other, the peeled, cubed potatoes. Cook each 12–15 minutes. After peeling and chopping up eggs, allow both items to cool thoroughly. Tip: I usually do this step hours or even a day before to ensure things are nice and cold. In a rush, both foods can be submerged in ice water and strained.
- Putting Together the Salad: Put potatoes and eggs in a large bowl. Add your drained can of peas, your drained tuna, and the one cup mayonnaise. If you want olives, now would be the time to drain them and add them in. Diced, cooked carrots also work nicely in this salad.
- Finishing Touches: Add salt and mix everything thoroughly, but without turning it into mashed potatoes due to over-zealous stirring. Open your jar of "pimientos del piquillo", or red bell peppers, and drain them, cut them in strips, and decorate the top of your "ensaladilla" however you like. Alternate method: Drain and chop your peppers, and add them in during step 2. Q. Where do I find these peppers? A. Publix sells them in the international foods section, as do many other higher end grocery stores. In Spain they are available in every store, everywhere.
- Refridgerate and serve cold.
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Give it a Try!
Give this authentic Spanish recipe a try at your next gathering. There may be some raised eyebrows at the fact that it is so different than what people are used to, but your folks and friends will be appreciative once they taste and see just how good it is. For once, potato salad may be the most popular item at the backyard party. Let me know in the comments below if you liked this recipe if you plan on using it, or just how you feel about potato salad in general. Happy cooking!
© 2018 Audrey Lancho