The cuisine of Christmas holidays, the Russian salad is a must. Recipe and meaning PHOTO

Among the dishes that characterize the tables and dinners of the holiday season (Christmas and New Year) there is the inevitable Russian salad. A single dish that is served and consumed as an appetizer or side dish. A dish, therefore, increasingly entered the heart of the tradition of Italian cuisine. But have you ever wondered why it is called a Russian salad?

To be honest there is no single explanation on the origins of this dish based mainly on vegetables and potatoes also because it is prepared in the most disparate ways in different countries of the world. Furthermore, to create even more confusion regarding its origins and meaning is the fact that it is named differently depending on the country in which it is prepared. In Eastern Europe, for example, we talk about white salad, while in Germany and Scandinavia we talk about Italian salad. And again, in the Balkans it is labeled as a French salad.

However, among the hypotheses on the origins one of the most popular is the one in which it is believed that the dish was conceived in the second half of the nineteenth century by a cook of French origin, Lucien Olivier in the kitchen of the Hermitage restaurant, a place where the dishes French were proposed and reworked according to the tradition of Russian cuisine.

In a short period of time, Olivier’s plate almost became an institution of the Russian capital (St. Petersburg at that time) and was the absolute protagonist of important banquets, such as that of Tchaikovsky’s wedding or that in honor of Dostoevsky. Although the restaurant tried to maintain a veil of secrecy around the recipe, which was very different from ours (it included, in fact, partridges, boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, pickled cucumbers, black truffles, crayfish, cubes of jelly and pickles), all at the beginning of the 20th century a former employee of the Hermitage communicated it to another restaurant.

The Russian salad In Italy it was first included by Giovanni Nelli in his well-known cookbook “King of cooks“(1889), only to be published in the work of Pellegrino Artrusi”Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well“: in the 1930s it had become a popular dish throughout Italy.

The alternative hypothesis

According to another hypothesisinstead, this salad is called Russian because, during the French invasion of Russia, a French politician, Luciano Olivier (namesake of the Hermitage cook), had introduced it to the town, where it still continues to be called Insalata Olivier. Another source places the birth of the Russian salad in the sixteenth century in France brought from Catherine de ‘Medici when he moved there in 1533 with his cooks in tow. They introduced some recipes from their homeland: the dish (but not his name), therefore, would have an Italian origin in this case.

The hypothesis of Piedmontese origin

According to other sourceson the other hand, the Russian salad would have marked Piedmontese origins (in the 19th century in Piedmont there was a rusa salad, that is red, which involved the use of beets). A cook who worked at the Savoy court prepared it on the occasion of the Tsar’s visit to Italy at the end of the nineteenth century. The dish would have been prepared with products commonly grown in Russia such as carrots and especially potatoes; the recipe did not include the use of mayonnaise, but of cream, which wanted to represent snow, typical of the Russian climate. The Tsar would then take the recipe with him and the dish would become very well known and appreciated in a very short time. In fact, in France it is called “Piedmontese salad” a variant of the Russian salad which provides, perhaps in place of beets, the use of fresh tomatoes.

The recipe: canapes with Russian salad

Cut the carrots and potatoes into cubes. Boil the two vegetables separately, starting with cold salted water: from the boiling point, calculate a maximum of ten minutes. Drain al dente. Also boil the peas in boiling salted water. Prepare the hard-boiled eggs. Once cold, shell them and cut them into small pieces. Collect the cooled and drained vegetables in a bowl, add the eggs and season with salt, pepper and mayonnaise. Cut out the bread with the special molds and fill the layers with the Russian salad, decorate with chopped pistachio and grated egg yolk.

Ingredients (4 people)

250 g peeled carrots
250 gr potatoes
125 g of peas
2 hard-boiled eggs
mayonnaise to taste
Sale to taste
Chopped pistachio
Bread for canapes

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