This post is kind of an inside joke – between me and myself. Because ensaladilla rusa is something that I don’t think I ever actually ordered. Sure, I’ve seen it. Seen it a lot. A heaping mound of mayonnaise-y potato salad, with tiny cubed carrots and mayo-drowned peas on display under a protective glass dome can be found in most bars in Spain. But you have to wonder how long it’s been sitting there. Let’s bypass the part where I describe to you sightings of congealed mayo, and skip to the part where I tell you why you should make this salad. Because summer is the perfect time for cold salads. Because if you use fresh, colorful ingredients and make your own mayo (or aioli!) you can take hated-on dishes like potato salad and make them really good, interesting even.
I love prepping recipes with products that have to be peeled and cut just so… the process of cleaning, then peeling, then sharpening my knife, then methodically cutting the carrots lengthwise, then into quarters, then into matchsticks, then into cubes … is my meditation. And the good thing about home cooking, as opposed to restaurant cooking, is that you can work at your own pace, with no anxious jefe de cocina repeating to you that that has to be finished – NOW. But I won’t lie – I miss the adrenaline of working in the kitchen. I don’t miss the the insane heat or the burns on my arms or the grime that always found its way under my fingernails … but there’s something so satisfying about ending a long night with a tired body and throbbing feet because you just gave a ton of people a really memorable experience. I miss that feeling.
I can’t write for long because one of my oldest and bestest friends is staying with me this weekend and we are celebrating his birthday today by going to some weird ass party in Brooklyn so I have to get myself mentally prepared for that… But I made this ensaladilla rusa yesterday and you should make it today and tell me how it comes out whydontcha. Cocinamos!
(serves 4 as a side dish)
- 8-10 baby Yukon gold potatoes (or other creamy-textured potato, not a mealy variety like Russets)
- 2-3 large carrots
- 1 cup petite pois (little peas! truth: I used frozen ones from Trader Joes)
- 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chilled
- 1 can of good tuna fish packed in olive oil (splurge on the good stuff because you won’t be mixing it with the mayo)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 splash white vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- crunchy salt to taste
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsely
- Place potatoes in a medium or large saucepan, cover with water and add two tablespoons sea salt. Bring water to a rolling boil then simmer potatoes for 20 minutes or so, or until you can pierce a potato with a knife pretty easily.
- Pour potatoes in a colander, drain water, and run under cool water until potatoes are cool enough to handle. One at a time, rub the skins of each potato. Running the potato under water will help you remove the skin. They don’t have to be perfect.
- Transfer peeled potatoes to the fridge to cool.
- Peel carrots, slice lengthwise, then into quarters, then into more or less rectangular strips. Cut in half in the opposite direction. Make a matchstick-like bundle, and cut across the bundle, to create cubes. Repeat until all carrots are cubed.
- When potatoes have cooled, remove from fridge. Cut into knuckle-sized pieces. They shouldn’t be bigger than a mouthful.
- Add mayonnaise, garlic, a splash of vinegar, a drizzle of EVOO and a 1/2 teaspoon of crunchy salt. Gently (I used one hand for this, keeping the other hand free and clean to do other things – grab ingredients, check instagram, etc.) stir around potatoes and coat evenly with mayonnaise. Using your clean hand, add the carrots, and stir gently again. Add peas, and repeat.
- Serve cold, topped with canned tuna, chopped HB egg, parsley, a drizzle of EVOO, and more crunchy salt.