Introducing the Russian-inspired classic, A La Russe salad, famously known as Olivier Salad in French cuisine. This vegan rendition offers a twist on the traditional Boeuf Salad, omitting meat and incorporating plant-based substitutes like vegan mayo and egg-free options.
Eschewing traditional mayo, I’ve crafted a version of this salad that prioritizes health without compromising on flavor. The tanginess of pickles harmonizes with the sweetness carrots, and potatoes, creating a delightful blend of flavors.
This recipe holds sentimental value for me, as it’s a cherished part of our Romanian holiday tradition, savored only once a year during Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. While the original Boeuf Salad reigns supreme during these festivities, the A La Russe variation offers a lighter, meat-free alternative.
I invite you to enjoy this revamped rendition of a timeless classic, now presented in a plant-based form.
Origins of the authentic A La Russe Salad
The A La Russe salad, known internationally as Olivier Salad, has its origins in Russia during the late 19th century. It was invented by Lucien Olivier, a Belgian-born Russian chef, who served it at his restaurant, the Hermitage, in Moscow. The salad gained immense popularity and became a staple in Russian cuisine.
Originally, Olivier Salad consisted of various ingredients such as boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, and pickles, mixed with mayonnaise and garnished with ingredients like capers, olives, and dill. The exact recipe was a closely guarded secret of Olivier’s, adding to its mystique and allure.
Over time, the recipe evolved, and different variations emerged, incorporating ingredients like boiled eggs, ham, or chicken. However, the basic components remained consistent – a medley of vegetables bound together by a creamy dressing.
The salad’s popularity spread beyond Russia’s borders, particularly to France, where it became known as “Salade Olivier” or “Salade Russe.” In French cuisine, it acquired a few modifications, often incorporating ingredients like peas, ham, or chicken.
Today, Olivier Salad is enjoyed worldwide under various names, with each region adding its own twist to the classic recipe. Despite its international variations, the salad remains a beloved dish, celebrated for its rich history and versatile flavor profile.
A La Russe Salad vs. Olivier Salad vs. Boeuf Salad
A La Russe Salad:
- Origin: A La Russe Salad, also known as Olivier Salad, originated in Russia in the late 19th century. It was created by Lucien Olivier, a Belgian-born chef, and gained popularity at his Moscow restaurant, the Hermitage.
- Ingredients: The traditional A La Russe Salad typically includes boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles, and sometimes diced boiled eggs, all mixed with mayonnaise. Additional garnishes may include capers, olives, and dill.
- Variations: While the original recipe was kept secret by Olivier, variations of the salad have emerged over time, both in Russia and internationally. These variations may include the addition of ingredients like ham, chicken, or seafood, depending on regional preferences.
- Name: This salad is alternatively known as Olivier Salad, particularly in French cuisine, where it is sometimes called “Salade Olivier” or “Salade Russe.”
- Ingredients: Olivier Salad typically consists of the same base ingredients as A La Russe Salad – boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, pickles, and mayonnaise. However, the specific ingredients and proportions may vary based on regional interpretations.
- International Popularity: Olivier Salad gained popularity beyond Russia, particularly in France, where it became a staple dish. French variations of the salad may include additional ingredients such as ham, chicken, or a different mix of vegetables.
- Origin: Boeuf Salad, also known as Beef Salad, has its origins in Western cuisine, particularly in Europe. It differs from A La Russe and Olivier Salad in that it typically includes beef as a primary ingredient.
- Ingredients: The main components of Boeuf Salad include boiled or roasted beef, along with potatoes, carrots, peas, and sometimes pickles, all mixed with mayonnaise or a creamy dressing. The inclusion of beef sets it apart from the vegetarian A La Russe and Olivier Salad variations.
- Variations: Like the other salads, Boeuf Salad has seen variations in different regions. Some variations may include additional ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, ham, or cheese.
In summary, while A La Russe Salad and Olivier Salad share a similar base and origin, with the latter often being the French interpretation of the former, Boeuf Salad distinguishes itself by its inclusion of beef as a central ingredient. Each salad offers its own unique blend of flavors and has evolved over time to accommodate regional preferences and variations.
Vegan, Low Fat “A La Russe” / Olivier Salad
- 5 red skin potatoes
- 2 carrots
- ½ cup peas canned, boiled
- 12 pickled cucumbers more or less – it depends on their size;
- 12 slices red bell peppers halves – it depends on their size; *
- 2 Tbsps Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsps lemon juice
- 3 Tbsps olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- ground pepper to taste
- vegan low fat mayonnaise – for garnish
- Boil the unpeeled potatoes until tender.
- In another pot, boil the carrots until ready.
- Peel the boiled potatoes and chop them in small pieces. Chop the boiled carrot.
- Chop the pickled cucumbers and bell peppers.
- Place chopped veggies, corn and peas in a large bowl and set aside.
- Place 1/3 of a boiled peeled potato in another jar – you’ll be using it to make the mayo. Mash the one third of the potato. Place it in a bowl and add olive oil, mustard, 3 tbsp lemon juice and 3 tbsp water. Mix ingredients very well. (skip this if you use mayonnaise).
- Add the mayonnaise made in the steps above over the veggies in the bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with low fat mayo (optional) and decorate as you please.
If you want you can replace the lemon’s juice, mustard and oil with store-bought mayo.
*I used an egg to decorate but you can use pickles or bell pepper if you’re vegan. The recipe is egg-free.