Insalata Russa or translated from Italian, Russian salad. I can’t seem to get enough of it. It was such a special treat when my mother or grandmother made it. My grandmother taught me how to make it when I was quite young, and I am so thankful she did. She made it look easy and, of course, never followed a recipe. Just potatoes, tuna, giardiniera, and mayonnaise.
Deliciously good with each bite.
I have not made it in years and was reminiscing about our travels thru Spain. Everywhere we went we had it as a tapas or side salad. Small differences from the Italian version, but needless to say, deliciously good with each bite.
It goes without saying that as soon as I got home, I made my own version following the teaching of Italian recipes. Seeing that I never wrote the recipe down when I was younger, creation took over, and here is my version.
Origins of Insalata Russa
The origin of the Insalata Russa is traced all the way to 1860. Some say it was originated and created by a Belgian who worked in a prestigious restaurant in Moscow. Others from France during Caterina De Medici, Russia, and from the Piemonte region of Italy. There are so many hypotheses about the real place of origin, that it is impossible to mention them all.
Insalata Russa is a versatile dish
Enjoy it as an appetizer or tapas, with your favorite cocktail. Transport yourself to an Italian or Spanish cafe and enjoy a few relaxing moments.
Boiled chicken or beef almost requires it. And of course, when you have a BBQ or a simple burger, this Insalata Russa is just perfect to go alongside.
Perfect kids recipe for their afternoon snack. Roll the Insalata Russa inside slices of ham. Kids love it.
You can set aside some of the giardinieras, pickled vegetables the Italian way, to use as decoration.
Insalata Russa is generally served in a large bowl or serving plate or you can create individual servings. Just let your imagination flow.
Tuna packed in oil has such a wonderful flavor that I highly recommend it buying it and using it for this dish.
Use French cornichons instead of the soft American pickle. The French counterpart is crunchier and has a great flavor more on the pungent side which is perfect for this dish. The American pickle is sweeter and will change the flavor of the dish.
Use good mayonnaise, Kraft or homemade, are the choices. Best Food is on the sweeter side and not ideal to use with this dish.
Always rinse capers. You need to remove either the salt taste or the vinegar taste.
Boil the cubed potatoes with sea salt until done but not falling apart. Drain well and set aside to cool off. Cook the peas in a small pan with some water until slightly tender. Drain and set aside.
Chop 3 of the hard-boiled eggs into small cubes. Slice the remaining egg and set it aside (used for garnishing)
Cut in small pieces the Giardiniera and add them to a large bowl. Add the peas, tuna, rinsed caper, mustard, chopped eggs, chopped cornichons, salt and pepper, half of the mayonnaise. Mix well.
Add the cooled diced potatoes to the bowl and mix well. Add more mayonnaise as you go along until you have a soft consistency salad. Taste to adjust the flavor.
Let the Insalata rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, decorate with the sliced egg, and serve.