This salad is known in the Netherlands as huzarensalade, Hussar's salad. Although one recipe website claims it's traditionally Dutch, I've also encountered something extremely similar in Spain, where it's called ensalada rusa or russian salad. According to wikipedia, that is also its name in several other countries, but it does not state which ones. Since russian salad sounds much tastier than Hussar's salad, I've decided to go by the Spanish name.
This salad is a staple of what the Dutch call a "walking buffet" (lopend buffet), the sort of dinner where you have to stand in line to get a plate, which you then fill with whatever strikes your fancy from the buffet. This is probably because it's cheap, can be made in advance, and fills your stomach like few other salads do. It's also often served with barbecue or as part of lunch. You can buy it in small portions or kilo containers from Dutch supermarkets, but it's easy to make yourself (and will taste much better that way). And although it is a salad, which implies a certain amount of healthiness, this dish is very very bad for your health, as its main ingredients are potatoes and mayonaise. My ex-boyfriend's grandmother used to make this and serve it with an extra dollop of mayonaise on top... mmm. Anyway, arteries be damned, on to the cooking!
For enough salad for six people, you need:
- 600 g of potatoes, peeled and boiled
- 200 g of corned beef, spam, cooked ham or other type of cooked meat
- 3 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 tart apple, cored but not peeled
- 200 g carrots, cooked
- 100 g green peas, cooked
- 100 g pickled pearl onions, or use a small raw onion if you can't get these
- 100 g pickled gherkins or cornichons. I suppose you can substitute any kind of pickles for the onions and gherkins if you can't get these, the idea is to use something sour and crunchy!
- tomato ketchup
- half a pot (ca. 150 ml) mayonaise, or to taste
- ground white pepper, salt, vinegar
Cut up all the large ingredients into small cubes, about half a centimetre in size. You can also use vegetables from a can, something like vegetable macedoine
comes in small bits and is very suitable. Put your cut ingredients into a bowl, add the mayonaise, a table spoon or so of tomato ketchup and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything well, add more ketchup (sweet) or vinegar (sour) if needed and according to taste. There, you're done, russian salad.
To serve in truly Dutch fashion, however, you're not quite finished. The Dutch old-fashioned way to serve this salad is on a large platter, formed into a shape that matches the occasion. You might make a clock for a New Year's Eve party, or a Zwarte Piet face for Sinterklaas or... well, whatever. If your fantasy is not up to the task you can always make a dome shape. To do this, put some lettuce leaves onto the platter you're using. Put your salad on top of this so that lettuce is still visible at the edges (we're talking garnish, here) and form the salad into the desired shape. You could also put on the salad first and then stick the lettuce leaves in/on afterwards. Cover the salad with a layer of mayonaise (you can use the other half of your pot for this. No, I am not kidding). Then decorate with tomato ketchup, pickled onions, pieces of tomato, gherkin slices... go wild! Now proudly display on your buffet! Happy eating.