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I adore ensalada rusa, or Russian Potato Salad.  When we were in Spain, I ate every version I could find and no two were exactly the same.  Isn’t that what makes cooking and dining interesting?  This version, which contains beets, if both beautiful and refreshing.I was introduced to Ensalada Rusa when we lived in Brazil, and there was no turning back.  Usually, the Brazilians omit the beets, but I do love the addition of beets.  However, the salad will be pink or darker.  Some versions add peas, as well.  At times good quality canned tuna or cooked chicken is added.  Usually I prefer a mayonnaise-based dressing, but it can have a vinaigrette.  If that’s your preference, the Latin Lover Vinaigrette would be a terrific choice.  This version is slightly different, as it incorporates flavors from Chile, or that part of the world, including ají amarillo chile paste.

The ají chile adds a bit of heat, a lovely golden hue and a nice complexity of flavor.  It’s also a nice addition to potato soups, other dressings or a béchamel sauce.  In my part of the world, ají chiles are available frozen whole, in paste form and in powdered form as well.  The various versions are available in most Latin American markets, and some well-stocked supermarkets.

Now, for the salad.  I either roast or steam the beets, dice them.  Sometimes I cook the carrots and potatoes together.  They cook at about the same rate.  In this case, I “baked” the potatoes in the microwave.

Cool the potatoes and veggies, then dice them into just shy of 1/2-inch pieces.  It’s easiest to just combine all the dressing ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, then put the diced veggies on top.  This time, because I was distracted, so I put all the veggies in the bowl, then poured on the dressing.  It still works, but you have an extra dirty bowl.  Okay, it isn’t that big a deal, but it’s a thing with me.  No matter what order you choose, make certain to sprinkle the veggies very liberally with salt and then drizzle with the olive oil.

To make the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, vinegar and ají amarillo paste.  To combine the dressing and the chopped vegetables, gently fold the mixture together.  I use a rubber spatula.  Cover and chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.  The color will probably deepen and change.

Chilean-Style Russian Potato Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Relatively Simple
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The potatoes, carrots and beets are all cooked until quite tender.  This is a great way to use leftover, cooked vegetables.  Make extra veggies just so you can make this salad.  You’re family is going to love this.

  • 2 large Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced (include some of the green part)
  • 1/2 cup celery heart with leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 beets, roasted or steamed, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1-2 tablespoons diced roasted peppers
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of your best flavored olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (you may need more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sherry or cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons ají amarillo chile paste (see NOTE)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables; sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the olive oil.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, vinegar and ají amarillo paste (see NOTE) and black pepper.  Pour the dressing over the chopped vegetables.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold just to combine all of the ingredients. Cover and chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.  The salad will become more “beet red” as it sits.

NOTE:  How much of the ají chile paste you use will depend on what type you’re able to find, and what the heat level is.  Ají amarillo chile paste is available in any Latin American market or well-stocked supermarket. This salad improves upon resting; the color deepens, as well. Stir before serving.  This recipe doubles well.  You can use pre-cooked roasted beets, which are available in packages, in the produce departments of most supermarkets.

Chilean-Style Russian Potato Salad Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019.  All rights reserved.

This salad is great with a burger or something grilled.  Or toss in some cooked chicken or well-drained tuna and make a terrific supper salad.  This is the perfect option for those days when you feel yourself melting.