Russian salad (Ensaladilla rusa)

Ensaladilla Rusa Russian Salad recipe |
This is the very first time we dedicate a full recipe post to a Russian dish. Quite possibly it will also be the last one. But why? Wasn’t this a website about Spanish gastronomy? Absolutely yes!

Invented by Russian chef Lucien Olivier back in 1860, this recipe set such strong roots in our country that we can safely claim it now as one of our most popular tapas dishes. It is so ubiquitous all over Spain, that most locals will show disbelief when you mention the Russian origin of this recipe.

This salad has been around our tables for decades. I still remember going for Sunday lunch at my grandma’s. Those sticky summer days when the temperature was so unbearably hot that most people wouldn’t even venture themselves onto the streets, preferring the much fresher air-conditioning at home or missing that, the indoor shading behind the blinds.

It’s on those days when Grandma would frequently treat us to a Russian salad. I remember it cold, fresh, almost alleviating… it was like a delicious and addictive homemade medicine against the heat. I loved it!

The great thing about this salad is how versatile it is. It can be eaten both as a starter or as a tapa, it admits plenty of variants in its composition and as long as you include potato, carrot and mayonnaise, the rest of the ingredients can be substituted by others you like better.

Have a go and be creative. Try replacing the tuna with smoked mackerel, crab meat or even chicken. Add white asparagus if you have some. Sweet corn is also a great option… The only important tip I would give you is to make a good homemade mayonnaise instead of using an industrial one. It will taste so much better!


Russian salad (Ensaladilla rusa)
Serves: people Print recipe
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Passive time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy



  1. Make a simple mayonnaise by placing all the ingredients in a tall jug and blend them with the help of a stick blender until you achieve a smooth emulsion.
  2. Place the potatoes and the carrots in a cooking pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to boil and cook for 25 minutes until the veggies become well cooked throughout.
  3. In the meantime, finely chop the onion, the gherkins and the olives. Crumble the tuna and place it all in a big salad bowl.
  4. Chop the green beans in bits of 1 to 2 cm long. Blanch them together with the petit pois and place them in a bowl with iced water to stop the cooking immediately. When cooled, add them both to the salad bowl.
  5. Once the carrots and the potatoes are cooked and cooled, peel them and diced them. Then add them to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Season to taste and add a couple of heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mix everything thoroughly and put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours so that it cools down. This salad is so much better when served cold!
  7. Take the salad out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before serving, drizzle a splash of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle a little bit of chopped fresh parsley. Serve straightaway.

It’s not to everyone’s taste but I love adding some piquillo peppers to this salad. I really think it helps enhancing the flavour plus they look really pretty!