Spain’s Most Popular Salad – Ensaladilla Rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa aka. Russian Salad is one of the most popular salads in Spain. You can pretty much find it on every restaurants menu. It’s the only potato salad I’ve ever seen or heard of here. I love it!

I can’t help but wonder if there is a story behind the salad. Why is it called a “Russian” salad? What makes it “Russian”? I asked my local Valenciana friend Sus (who gave me this delicious recipe) and she didn’t think there was a story. Her thoughts were that it’s a cheap way to feed a family. After a quick google search, I found an article I thought sounded plausible. According to Edyta from Eating European, this salad was invented in the 18th century by Lucien Olivier in Moscow and over the course of the centuries, different regions of Europe have developed their own variations. Spain’s variation is adding tuna and green olives.

I grew up eating potato salad at family gatherings and/or holidays. I can’t wait to bring this recipe home and make it for my family in the US.

Ensaladilla Rusa

Serves 4


  • 3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 3 carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 can drained peas (80g), or 2/3 cups frozen peas
  • 1 can corn, drained (80g), or 2/3 cups frozen corn
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
  • 2 cans of tuna (80g ea), drained
  • 6 crab sticks, chopped into small cubes – (*optional)
  • 20 green olives (divided), chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Salt, pepper, and thyme to taste
  • a squeeze of lemon


  1. Peel potatoes and carrots, and chop into small cubes.
  2. Boil potatoes, carrots, and peas for 25 to 30 mins or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Then, drain and let cool.
  4. Boil eggs, for 10 mins. Then, let them cool.
  5. Chop olives set aside.
  6. (*optional) Chop crab sticks into small cubes.
  7. In a bowl, add potatoes, carrots, peas, *crab, corn, and tuna together.
  8. Chop eggs and add to the bowl.
  9. Add half the olives. Mix gently.
  10. Add salt, pepper, thyme to taste.
  11. Add mayonnaise until salad is evenly coated.
  12. Add a squeeze of lemon.

“Now, it’s the moment of building your dish.” – Sus

I love that this step was included in the recipe. Plating and presenting is important!

  1. Prepare a large dish.
  2. Build a small oval hill of salad, with the help of one spoon.
  3. When finished, ensure that it’s all coated with mayonnaise.
  4. Decorate the top with the remaining olives.
  5. Per Sus, you can also put chopped peanuts, pistachios, or cashews sometimes. (I absolutely love the added crunch of the nuts)

This is a great summer meal. Give it a try and then let me know what you think.

Published by reignnspain

I'm an American expat living, cooking, eating, and exploring in Valencia,Spain.

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