Vegan Russian salad (or Olivier salad), although it is not an originally Greek food, is one of our favorite comfort foods that we like to prepare in several occasions such as a social gathering in the countryside or a cozy evening in our house. Vegan Russian salad, fulfills all the criteria of comfort food as it is easy to prepare, it is associated with a sense of home, it is enjoyable to eat and it makes me feel emotianally better, as it brings to my mind wonderful memories.
Raised in a large and socially active family, very often, friends or relatives would visit our house or we would visit their houses, even for a while. But especially during weekends and holidays, a large pot luck would be arranged in one of the houses. We would gather early in the noon for lunch and we would stay till late in the evening, sometimes having also dinner with the leftovers before the end of our feast. Some other times we would gather for dinner and the very next day we would also meet for lunch with the occasion to eat the leftover food, although the main reason was to meet each other again, to experience the warmth of a large family, to laugh, to discuss several issues, always around a good meal.
Each of the cooks would bring to the table one of his or her specialties. One of the dishes that my mother used to make, and still does in such pot lucks, was the Greek version of the famous Russian salad (or Olivier salad, named after the chef Lucien Olivier who developed the recipe). Olivier used to make his salad, with a secret recipe however we now know that it included boiled potatoes cut into cubes, peas, capers and some rare and expensive animal-derived ingredients. Moreover the mayonnaise he used in order to give a rich flavor to the salad was made with olive oil, mustard and wine vinegar.
In Greece Russian or Olivier salad is very popular and of course the recipe is adjusted in order to include mostly local, easy to find ingredients. Thus the Greek Russian salad, is loaded with vegetables and therefore preparing its vegan version is not that difficult. Actually, I like to use my olive oil mayonnaise just as Olivier did – although I suspect that his mayonnaise was not vegan – and a variety of tasty and colorful vegetables. For convenience, I usually use frozen mixed vegetables, which I combine with cubed boiled potatoes, mayonnaise and certainly pickles or capers.
So the other day, as I made enough vegan mayonnaise for my previous post, I used a part of it in order to prepare this easy and yet so delicious vegan Russian salad. We usually eat this as a side dish but Russian salad also makes an exceptional, hearty stuffing for our sandwiches.
- 1 pack 400g frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, red pepper, corn) or equal amount of fresh
- 400 g potatoes, whole (about 3 medium)
- 5-6 pickled cucumber sliced or 2 tablespoons capers
- 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise with olive oil
- 1 tbsp prepared mustard (I like it spicy)
- 1 tsp lemon juice or wine vinegar
- freshly ground pepper
- salt (if needed)
1. Wash the potatoes and put them to boil with skins for 25-30 minutes until tender. Drain, let them cool slightly, peel and cut into small cubes.
2. In a saucepan put water to boil, add the mixed vegetables and cook for five minutes over high heat (count time after water starts to boil) without a lid. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water so that the vegetables maintain their vivid colors.
3. In a bowl, mix well the mayonnaise with the mustard, lemon juice and pepper.
4. Gently mix the potatoes, the vegetables and the mayonnaise and add salt to taste. Let the flavors develop for at least 30 minutes and serve. Keep 2-3 days in the fridge, in an air-tight container.