We were invited to a braai last weekend and were asked to bring “something salady”. I didn’t have much time to rustle up something elaborate as we’d spent most of the morning in DIY mode. Then I remembered the quintessential Spanish salad, Ensaladilla Rusa, which ironically translates to “Russian salad”. No one has ever been able to tell me why it is called that, but what I do know is that this side dish always seems to go down well – especially at a good old South African braai! Please just make sure you either make your own mayo for this (it makes all the difference) or at the very least use a decent brand like Hellman’s, or else it just won’t taste like it’s supposed to. Making your own mayo is easy – I do mine in about 45 seconds flat if using a stick blender. For my fool-proof recipe (well it’s never bombed on me!) use the search function at the top of this page, type in the word mayonnaise and hit enter.
The recipe below serves six as a side dish. You can also serve it as a tapa.
Ensaladilla Rusa or Spanish (“Russian”) Potato Salad
3 carrots, diced into smallish blocks; 4 to 5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced, 2 eggs, boiled; 1 cup of frozen baby peas; 1/2 onion, finely chopped and blanched; 1 standard-sized tin of solid-meat tuna in vegetable oil, drained; about a cup (or more if desired) of home-made mayonnaise; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning, pimento-stuffed green olives and roasted red pepper strips for garnishing
Steam or boil the carrots and potatoes until cooked but still firm enough not to fall apart when being mixed through: about 25 minutes in a steamer should do it but it is best to watch the veggies so they don’t go too far. It actually prefer it if the carrots do still have a slight bit of crunch. In the meantime defrost the peas (not in the microwave). When you are ready to add them to the salad you can also blanch them for about two minutes, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly. Once the potatoes and carrots are done, drain them very well, cool and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the carrots, potatoes and peas; add the blanched onion, chopped egg and the tuna which has been flaked with a fork. Mix mayonnaise through the whole lot, check seasoning again, then pile onto a serving platter. Garnish with the strips of roasted red pepper (see tip below) and olives.
TIP: Try Salvelio’s quick alternative to roasting peppers in the oven! Take one large red pepper, deseed it and cut into flattish sections. Fry it in very little oil in a very hot non-stick pan until literally completely burnt on the skin side. Turn over, allowing the inside bit to cook too (but not burn); then turn off the heat, stick a lid on and allow to “steam” for a bit so the skin can loosen. Peel off the skin while still hot and cut into strips.