Salad Oliviyeh

for a generous bowlful: enough for 4 with leftovers
Gee this recipe is well-travelled. It was devised by one Chef Olivier in Moscow about a hundred and fifty years ago, and was initially a real salmagundi of ingredients. You may have come across it under its pseudonym, Russian salad. It is big in Spanish tapas bars, Belgian beer bars and Turkish coffee bars. Over the years and the miles things have changed, and it is now generally understood to be a posh potato salad with a lot of stuff up it.
The dish is much loved by Persians and Armenians, where it is traditionally made with chicken. This version is based on my mother-in-law’s recipe, minus the meat.

Please to buy:

  • 500g potatoes, peeled
  • knoblet of butter
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 250g really good mayonnaise
  • 200g cooked peas, canned or frozen (er, or fresh)
  • 5-6 spicy pickled cucumbers (Iranian, Syrian or Israeli are best), chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • couple of sprigs of tarragon or dill, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon or dill)
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  • 4 eggs, perfectly hard boiled, peeled and quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pots and then mash them coarsely with a little butter and the turmeric. When the mash has cooled somewhat, add the mayo…and all the other ingredients, retaining a few slices of gherkin and a bit of parsley as garnish. Pack the salad into a bowl, and make pretty with green bits.
Oliviyeh is great as a sandwich filling/lunchbox padding, but it is also truly versatile party/buffet food. It moulds so well you can be fairly creative with it: a potato hanging gardens of Babylon, perhaps, or at the very least a mayonnaise pyramid…

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