Monday, February 14, 2011

Russian salads

One of my co-workers is Russian, and on her birthday, she brought in nine Russian salads so we could all celebrate with her.  And we did...

In response to popular request, she gave out the recipes, and here are two of them, one veganized, and one not, since it was already vegan. 

First, the Tazalyk (the cabbage salad in the back).  I didn't do a step by step on that one because it was so easy, but it is also magically good.  I can't figure out why this is, perhaps because most of the cabbage salads I eat are very tart and full of different flavours, and this is a simple one without even pepper that allows the cabbage's full flavour to come through.  At any rate, it has a nutty, extraordinarily pleasant taste that I just loved and that will probably be even better tomorrow.

Serves 4 as a side dish

1/4 medium head cabbage, finely sliced
1 small clove garlic, put through a press
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower or canola oil

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add the garlic and salt.  Rub the cabbage vigorously between your hands for a full minute or so, until it is slightly bruised.  Add the sugar, tomato, and oil, and gently mix.

The other salad is the famous Russian Salade Olivier, whose true recipe has never been revealed, but approximations of which have apparently entered the Russian consciousness to the point that, according to Wikipedia, it is a staple of any Soviet Russian holiday. 

Salade Olivier
Serves 4

2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup soft tofu
2-3 dill pickles (depending on the size of your dills)
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup finely diced onion (I used red onion)
1/2 cup Soy Curls
150 grams (about 1/3 cup) sauerkraut, drained
1/2 tsp black salt (or regular salt if you don't have black salt)
1/4 to 1/3 cup Veganaise or other vegan mayonnaise

There are two schools of Salade Olivier, the grated school and the diced school.  I'm doing the diced school thing here.  So, first, get your Soy Curls hydrated in some hot vegetable broth (I used hot water plus Bryanna's Chicken-style broth powder (see sidebar).  Then, dice your potatoes, and boil them in water to cover until just tender:

Squeeze the soft tofu in a clean cloth until dry-ish (my picture of this did not work out at all, but you should all know what that looks like anyway).

Now chop up the other ingredients:

Shown here: diced red onion, dill pickle, sauerkraut, squished tofu
Add the well-squeezed Soy Curls (mmmm....Soy Curls...):

You can if you wish cool the drained potatoes by adding the frozen peas, which is what I did.  Then put everything together with the Veganaise and black salt, and you have a lovely vegan Russian potato salad that really is super-delish, and goes superbly with the Tazalyk, and, incidentally, the pickled red onions from Viva Vegan (this is what they look like after 24 hours in the fridge), to which I am now officially addicted.

Приятного аппетита!

(That's bon appetit for those of you who don't speak Russian.)


  1. Very interesting! Russian cuisine doesn't often get much representation beyond borscht.
    Beautiful shot of the bright pink onions too!

  2. The cabbage salad looks very similar to German "Krautsalat", I didn't know the Russian one was so close! I have never heard about salade Olivier though. Thank you for sharing the recipes!

  3. I wonder what they would think of the soy curls and tofu in Russia... Both salads sound yummy and look so pretty. About the tazalyk, and the idea of the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts, that always surprises me when it happens, too. Sometimes the simplest combinations can be amazingly delicious. (Fresh tomatoes with basil and olive oil is what comes to mind.)

  4. Fun recipes! I love the idea of sauerkraut in the potato salad. I still have to get my hands on some of those soy curls...

  5. Why, I happen to have a 1/4 head of cabbage in the fridge and have been wondering what to do with it...

    Also, you're not stuck in a snow drift! I somehow managed to miss your last post and had been thinking it's been a couple of weeks since you've posted. I'm glad to see you back, and with the perfect recipes, as usual.

  6. Russian Salad looking very colorful. This is one of my fav dishes.