(Spanish Potato Salad) I’ve read cookbooks that call this a quintessentially Spanish salad, while others say it really is of Russian origin. Regardless of origin, you can find versions of this potato salad in virtually any bar in Spain.
The salad is made with prodigious amounts of mayonnaise, something a little off-putting in this age of cholesterol paranoia but necessary nonetheless; you can skimp on the mayonnaise, but the flavor won’t be quite right. Spaniards consider mayonnaise a gourmet-level sauce, instead of something you spread on sandwiches; consequently, most recipes that I’ve seen for ensaladilla rusa call for using homemade mayonnaise. I had a bad experience once in Madrid with some mayo that had turned, so I’ve never been anxious to try making my own. My friend Neil tells me that it’s pretty easy, though, so I suppose that some day soon I’ll give it a try. Meanwhile, I used mayonnaise from a jar for this recipe.
I’ve adapted this recipe from Cocina facil para todos los días, by Clara San Millán, (Madrid: Interediciones, 1984), with occasional glances at ¡Delicioso! by Penelope Casas.
1 pound new potatoes
½ cup petit frozen peas
1 6 oz. can of tuna
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ tbsp. lemon juice
Salt to taste
Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut into ½ inch cubes.
Place in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes until done. Add the peas, then drain the vegetables and rinse in cold water; repeat a few times, then place in a bowl.
Add the tuna, olives, pimentos and egg.
Mix together the mayonnaise and lemon juice; the mayonnaise should have a creamy texture. Add to the vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste. Let chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
In Spain this will often be garnished with more pimento and served with an extra dollop of mayonnaise on top.