French Salad

Do not let the title fool you – this fine salad has absolutely nothing to do with France. The secret lies in the fact that the French salad is called Russian salad (salade russe) in France. If you look around in their culinary dictionary under that name, you will find recipes that have approximately the same ingredients as French salad Croatians make. Now let see what the Russians have to say about it…

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For Russians, this salad has – you guessed it – a different name. It’s called “Salad Olivier“, named after the chef who created it in the 1860s. Lucien Olivier was a chef at the renowned restaurant, “Hermitage”, in Moscow. Shortly after Lucien created it, this salad has become the most recognizable restaurant dish. Its recipe was a strictly guarded treasure, and even to this day we do not know how this popular appetizer was really done. What we do know is that it contained veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, pieces of lobster, capers, small cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and soy beans.

At the turn of the 19th/20th century, one of Olivier’s assistant chefs tried to get a hold of the recipe. At one occasion while the chef was gone, Ivan Ivanov, his assistant chef, took some of the dressing and realized what was the secret recipe made of​​. After that, he went to work in the competitive restaurant “Moscow”, where he served a surprisingly similar salad. After that, Ivan has even sold the recipe to some publishers and salad began to gain popularity. The result of its popularization was a change of ingredients – everything that was seasonal or expensive was replaced by more affordable ingredients and little by little, the “French” salad as we know it today came into existence.

This version was obligatory dish at ceremonies in Soviet Russia (especially on New Year’s celebrations) because all required ingredients were available in the middle of winter. In addition to Russia, it is a common guest on tables in Iran (where they add chicken bits) and in Spain and Portugal.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls to mix the ingredients in 😀
  • Large pot to boil the peas and the carrots in, and a…
  • Small pot to boil the eggs in.
  • Chef’s knife comes in handy for cutting eggs and pickles.
  • Cutting board also comes in handy for cutting the ingredients mentioned above
  • Measuring spoons because it’s meal preparation, and being precise pays dividends.
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because cooking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen peas and carrots mix (approx. ½ kg)
  • 400 g (2 cups) mayonnaise
  • 1 small jar of dill pickles (or smaller)
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of sour cream (maybe a bit more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Hard boil eggs.
  2. Separately boil the carrots and peas in salted water. When cooked, strain and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the hard boiled eggs and dill pickles into cubes, preferably of the same size as peas, and mix together in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard, and a tablespoon of mayonnaise.
  5. Mix in with the vegetables and eggs, then add what’s left of the mayonnaise and mix until combined.

If you want a french salad with the twist, you can add couple of boiled potatoes and an apple of your choice (both cut into cubes)!

Chill before serving, preferably over night.

What other dishes with interesting history do you know?