This is quintessential Russian salad, and an indispensable part of every New Year’s Eve table. Since my first visit to Russia in 1987, I can remember being served this salad in various forms and combinations. On New Year’s Eve 2012, we decided to make it for friends, and I searched my Russian cookbooks for a recipe. Inevitably, Anya von Bremzen, in her classic Please to the Table, included a quirky variation from her childhood, made with shredded cabbage, which bears no resemblance to any salat oliviye I’ve ever tasted. The version from the Russian-language cookbook had no measurements — because what self-respecting Russian housewife would ever write down the amount of peas, carrots, ham, potatoes, and eggs she uses in a salad? So I improvised based on the ingredients I remembered, and this version came out pretty well. When I try it again, I might use a little less potato.
1.5 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
8 oz carrots
5 oz crispy dill pickles, finely diced
8 oz green peas
6 oz ham, finely cubed
1 large red apple, finely diced
4-5 heaping Tbsp mayonnaise
1 handful fresh dill, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil potatoes 15-20 min until soft but not mushy; cool, peel, and finely cube (boiled potatoes can be peeled easily by hand).
2. Hard-boil eggs in simmering water, 13-15 min.; cool, peel, and chop finely.
3. Boil carrots until soft but not mushy, about 10 min.; cool, peel, and cut into cubes.
4. Toss potatoes, carrots, ham, eggs, peas, pickles, and apples in a large bowl with salt and pepper, add mayonnaise, then dill, and toss again. Taste and correct seasoning as needed.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish