Salata de boeuf, literally "beef salad" is a traditional Romanian potato salad. The name sounds French but is actually of Russian origin, where it is known as salad Olivier (salat Olivje). It was invented in the 1860s by Belgian chef Lucien Olivier who worked at the Hermitage museum in Russia.
Originally made with beef, it is now made with whatever is on hand—chicken, turkey, ham, or even hot dogs. The recipe varies from family to family and region to region. What remains constant is the use of potatoes and root vegetables, and the fact that all the ingredients are diced finely.
The salad is often decorated elaborately with bits of vegetable and hard-cooked eggs. Decorated or not, it's a great-tasting salad that can be served as part of an appetizer spread or as a main course with crusty bread.
- For the Salad:
- 2 large russet potatoes
- 2 boneless chicken breasts (cooked and finely diced, or use beef, turkey, ham, hot dogs, etc.)
- 1 cup carrots (peeled, boiled, and finely diced)
- 1 cup parsnips (peeled, boiled, and finely diced)
- 5 large eggs (hard-cooked and finely diced)
- 1 small onion (finely diced)
- 2 stalks celery (finely diced)
- 1 1/2 cups pickles (finely diced)
- 1 1/2 cups peas (frozen)
- For the Dressing:
- 1 to 2 cups mayonnaise (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- For the Garnish:
- Garnish: parsley
- Garnish: olives
- Garnish: reserved hard-cooked eggs
- Garnish: reserved cooked vegetables
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this salad is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.
Make the Salad
Gather the ingredients.
In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes in their skins until they are fork tender. Remove them from the water and peel off the skin when they are cool enough to handle. Dice finely and reserve.
Peel the carrots and parsnips. In a large pot, boil them till they are fork tender. Remove them from the water. When cool enough to handle, dice them finely and reserve.
Hard boil five eggs. When cool enough to handle, dice them finely and reserve.
Finely dice the onions, celery, and pickles.
In a large bowl, add the diced potatoes, diced chicken or other meat, diced carrots, parsnips, eggs, onion, and celery. Reserve some of the vegetables and eggs to use to decorate the salad.
Squeeze the diced pickles lightly in a paper towel to remove some of their juice (otherwise the salad will be too watery) and add to the rest of the diced ingredients.
Place frozen peas in a colander and run cold water over them to defrost. Drain completely, patting dry, if necessary, and add to the other diced ingredients in the large bowl.
Make the Dressing
Gather the ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Assemble the Salad
In the large bowl of the diced ingredients, add the dressing and toss to completely cover.
Transfer the salad to a pretty serving bowl. Cover the entire top with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Use enough so no salad shows through. Decorate the top with reserved vegetables and hard-cooked eggs.
Cover the salad with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to serve chilled. While you could serve it immediately at room temperature, refrigerating it allows the flavors to mix together best.
Serve and enjoy!
Refrigerate any salad that is leftover. It keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator since there are no greens to wilt.