The origin of Russian Salad is not clear. The most common theory is that it was created by the French chef Lucien Olivier at the Hermitage Restaurant in Moscow where it was known as Salad Olivier. However, Insalata Russa or Italian Russian salad was very popular in Italy. In the eighteenth century, so the story goes, it was known as Insalata Genovese because it was served to the Ligurian aristocracy at gala dinners. Other legends claim that the Piemonte region of Italy created this salad when Russian aristocracy came to visit.
The original recipe for Russian Salad has been adapted to reflect national cuisines and has many variations. But they all begin with potatoes, carrots, peas and homemade mayonnaise. Using homemade mayonnaise made with olive oil makes this uniquely Italian. My recipe includes tuna and hard-boiled eggs as is typical in the Insalata Russa of Italy and the Spanish Ensaladilla Rusa. Celery, onion, capers, peppers, and herbs can also be added (or not). Use as much or as little of the vegetables in any proportion that appeals to you. (See recipe notes for additional ingredients and serving ideas.)
This delicious recipe is quick and easy to make and holds well. Dress it up for a special occasion or serve just as it is for a family dinner or picnic. It is even better left-over, piled on top of a crusty piece of toasted bread. This yummy Italian potato salad is sure to become a family favorite.
- 1 pound Yukon Gold or Red potatoes, peeled and diced
- ¾ cup peeled and diced carrots
- ¾ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup diced celery
- 1 tablespoon diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon pepperoncini or Piparra peppers, diced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 (5 ounce) cans tuna packed in oil, drained (Genova brand is one of my favorites)
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
- ¾ to 1 cup homemade mayonnaise (adjust amount to your taste) or your favorite grocery store brand
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and dice the potatoes and carrots. Cut them any size you like depending on how you plan to serve the insalata. Traditionally, the vegetables for Insalata Russa are cut fairly small, about ½ to ¾ inch.
- Cook potatoes in salted water just until tender. This won’t take long. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a bowl to cool.
- Add the carrots to the pot and cook until crisp/tender. Just before removing the carrots, add the peas and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Drain well and add to bowl with potatoes.
- Dice the celery, onion, and peppers quite small and add to the bowl of vegetables along with the capers, tuna and eggs.
- Mix together with the mayonnaise and parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper.