What’s Olivier Salad?

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Olivier salad, also known as Russian salad, originated in 19th century Russia with a long list of ingredients including black grouse, aspic, and caviar. The modern version uses more common ingredients such as pickles and bologna, and is typically served during New Year celebrations with boiled potatoes, vegetables, and meat mixed with mayonnaise sauce.

Olivier salad, also called Russian salad, is a dish created in late 19th century Russia. The original version included a long list of ingredients, many of which are not commonly available, including black grouse, aspic and caviar. These ingredients were mixed with a special mayonnaise, the recipe of which was never fully disclosed by the creator of the salad. A version of the salad became extremely popular in Russian homes, especially as a dish to be served on holidays and other celebrations. The Olivier salad that has become a staple in regions in and around Russia uses more readily available ingredients, such as pickles and bologna, and more closely resembles a potato salad than the original creation.

The basic Olivier salad that is served during New Year celebrations in Russia starts with boiled potatoes that have been diced. These are mixed together in a bowl with – most commonly – peas, carrots and cucumbers or pickles. Other vegetables can be added to the salad, including tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery. Boiled eggs are finely diced and also added to the bowl. The exact proportions and blend of vegetables differ from recipe to recipe.

Almost all Salad Olivier recipes call for the addition of some type of meat. Unlike the authentic version, derivative versions tend to include only one type of meat throughout the salad rather than small pieces of different types. In Russia, the meat that is added is usually a very fine-grained sausage resembling bologna. Some salads use chicken or shrimp, or they may include duck, country sausage, or shredded beef. The meat does not have to be diced and mixed with the vegetables, but can be served as a whole piece together with the salad if desired.

Whatever is included in Salad Olivier, one constant in the recipes is that the sauce is based on mayonnaise. A simple recipe might use just a few balls of mayonnaise as the whole dressing, while other recipes might call for a sauce made with mayonnaise, mustard, spices, and lemon juice. The authentic version of Salad Olivier was noted for using a mayonnaise made by the original chef with high-quality olive oil, which imparted a distinctly different flavor from commercially produced varieties.

Once everything has been tossed with the mayonnaise sauce, Salad Olivier is complete. It can be served in a plate or spread over toast wedges as an appetizer. The salad can also be used as a sandwich or as a filling for other foods, such as baked potatoes.

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