I should be posting a recipe for the original Russian potato salad (also known as Olivier or Debev) – especially since I’ve eaten it since I was about 2 years old – but I am actually sharing a Spanish adaptation instead. The Spaniards call it simply Ensalada Rusa (Russian Salad), however, they make it slightly differently. They add tuna! Yep. Stay with me.
I first came across Ensalada Rusa at a local tapas bar in one of the small towns I visited on one of our climbing trips. I saw it on the bar display and I knew what the name meant, but I couldn’t get my head around the tuna part. I’ve never heard of tuna in a Russian salad. Yet here it was, in all its potato and tuna and mayonnaise glory, staring right at me. So I tried it. And guess what? I absolutely loved it.
This is a hearty salad made with white potatoes (see possible modifications below), creamy mayo dressing, cooked carrots, egg, olives, and gherkins. I also like to add a little green apple, but that’s totally optional. And, of course, it has very good quality canned tuna. Spanish do canned tuna really well and I think that’s one of the reasons their version tastes so good. So don’t skimp on the tuna! Make sure to get sustainably caught stuff, or feel free to use wild canned salmon instead.
Before you comment that white potatoes are not paleo, please Google Are White Potatoes Paleo? and do some reading. My verdict – eat them on occasion, peel before cooking (this reduces the amount of antinutrients present mostly in the skin); ideally cool after cooking (this increases the amount of gut beneficial resistance starch); and serve with healthy fats, veggies and something acidic (lowers the glycemic index of the potatoes). Basically, have them as a Russian potato salad. There you go, I’ve just defended the white potato.
Not a fish lover? Traditional Russian version of this salad is actually made with diced up ham or kielbasa, so feel free to use about 200-250 grams/ 0.25 lbs. of cooked meat or chicken instead of tuna/salmon.
AIP? Use swedes, parsnips or sweet potato instead of white potato. I like swedes as they are not as sweet. Omit the eggs and dress with olive oil and lemon juice dressing instead.
This salad keeps well in the fridge so you can make an extra large batch for lunches. Store for up to 3 days. This is a great batch cooking recipe, excellent lunch box option.
Can’t find good quality mayonnaise? Try making your own with this recipe.Print
- 700 g / 1.3 lb. white potatoes (or swedes for AIP), peeled
- 1 large carrot, cut in half
- 2 eggs
- 300 g / 0.6 lb canned tuna or salmon
- ¼ cup diced gherkins or dill pickles (capers can also be used)
- ½ Granny Smith or other green apple, diced finely
- 10 green or Spanish black olives, sliced (meets out)
- Generous pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup diced spring onions, chives or dill (optional)
- Peel the potatoes (or swedes) and cut into quarters. Add to a large saucepan together with the carrot halves and two eggs. Fill up with water until just covered and bring to boil. Cover with a lid and cook 10 minutes. Then remove the eggs and the carrots; continue to cook potatoes for a further 3-5 minutes, until just tender. Allow the vegetables to cool down almost completely. Strain the eggs under cold water to make peeling easier.
- In the meantime, prepare the mayonnaise if you’re making your own.
- Peel and dice the cooked carrots and eggs. Dice the potatoes. Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir well together. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.