Ensalada Rusa

I usually dread office potlucks. However, my client in Miami had a thanksgiving potluck last week and I was actually intrigued. Most of the people at this office are from South or Central America, so they made things like rice and beans, plantains, and flan. It was – dare I say – tasty!

My contribution was an improvised version of Ensalada Rusa, something my parents used to make for a crowd. This is typically a mayo-based potato salad with hard boiled eggs and vegetables like peas, carrots, and green beans.

I kept it simple this time with just potatoes, peas, and some scallions. This salad is best when made with homemade mayonnaise, but my tools were rather limited so I upped the flavor of store-bought mayonnaise with some garlic oil. I rounded out the dressing with some smoked paprika and lots of fresh lemon juice. Finally, I had experimented with this seasoning called Bijol that I found at the grocery store with some chicken earlier in the week, so I threw that in as well. I was hoping it would be like Sazon, minus the MSG. I think it’s really more of a coloring than a flavoring, though.

Here’s my very basic recipe (without measurements…sorry)

Ensalada Rusa

Red potatoes, cut into ¾ inch cubes
Frozen baby peas, thawed
Scallions, sliced (green parts only)
Garlic cloves, smashed
Olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Spicy smoked paprika
Bijol seasoning
Salt and pepper

I started the potato cubes in cold, salted water and brought them up to a boil. I’m not sure how long I let them boil for, but I kept testing them for doneness. When they were tender, I drained them and tested for seasoning.

While the potatoes were boiling, I added some smashed garlic cloves to some olive oil and cooked over medium-low heat until the garlic was very lightly browned. At that point, I removed the garlic and set the oil aside to cool.

For the dressing, I mixed the mayonnaise with a little bit of the cooled garlic oil, lots of lemon juice, a large dash of the paprika and Bijol seasoning, and some salt and pepper.

Finally, I just tossed the potatoes, peas, and scallions with the dressing and sprinkled some more paprika on top for serving. It was a hit!

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