Insalata Russa – Russian Salad

This is one of my favorite salads in Italy but, strangely, I have never seen it on the menu in Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Most Italians, including myself, have never made it, however, because we buy it at the salumiere just before we serve it for lunch or dinner.

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 160 gr of green beans
  • 150 gr of fresh shelled peas
  • salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 or 5 small cucumbers
  • about 10 mushrooms in oil
  • 10 tiny onions in vinegar
  • a handful of capers
  • oil
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 2 or 3 green olives (without pits)

Insalata Russa is one of the most typical cold antipasti. It is prepared easily and, to save time, you can use the frozen mixed vegetables. In this recipe, I use fresh vegetables because they seem to give better results.


How to make Russa Insalata

1. Peel the potatoes and wash them; cut them first into large slices , then into match sticks and finally, into tiny cubes. Peel the carrot and cut in half, then divide each half into match sticks and then into tiny cubes. Remove the ends of the green beans and cut them into small pieces. For the peas, you can use either the fresh or the frozen ones, even the canned ones but they will not need cooking.

Cook each vegetable separately in salted water.

2. The potatoes should be immersed in cold water which warms up slowly while the other vegetables can be put together in a large pan. In the meantime, boil 2 of the eggs by plunging them into boiling ater for then prepare the vegetables in vinegar. Cut the cucumbers into half rounds. Do not cut the smallest vegetables, capers and mushrooms- unless some of them are larger.

3. Put all the vegetables (except the olives) together and mix in a tiny bit of oil. Prepare the mayonnaise (of course, also in this case you can use the prepared kind but the result will not be the same). Break the uncooked eggs, gather only the yolks in a small bowl (the whites can be used for something else); add a pinch of salt, a few drops of lemon juice and begin to stir the sauce with an electric beater or with a wooden spoon. Or, if you prefer, with a food processor.

4. As you work, add oil a drop at a time until you have obtained a bowl of sauce. At the end, ad more lemon juice. Put two or three teaspoons of mayonnaise on the vegetables and mix well then transfer the salad onto an oval serving plate so that it covers the whole surface of the plate. Cover the whole surface with the mayonnaise using a plastic scraper. Decorate with pieces of boiled eggs and green olives and serve.

In the summer time in Italy, we eat entirely differently than other seasons. It is so hot that we don’t want to bake or fry or even go near the stove if we can avoid it. We eat fresh summer produce and foods with lots of water to replace what we have lost in perspiration. Below are mix and match suggestions for hot summer lunches and dinners.
Please note that we eat soup at dinner.
Buon Appetito!