Salads come in many different shapes and forms. Some are light and simple, some are complex and filling. Many don’t even have any greens in them, although most do have vegetables, unless they are a fruit salad. It’s this last requirement for vegetables that makes this next dish technically a salad. Olivier Salad, also known as Russian Salad (Ruska Salata) in the parts of the world I grew up in, is the type of a salad you get to enjoy when you don’t have much access to fresh vegetables but have plenty of frozen, pickled or frozen vegetables on hand. And plenty of potatoes, of course.
Growing up, we used to make large bowls of this salad for every special occasion, and serve it as an appetizer. The traditional recipe uses boiled potatoes, carrots, and peas, as well as boiled ham and even eggs, and pickles – all finely diced and mixed with mayo and a bit of mustard. Serve this concoction with fresh bread, and you don’t need much more!
I’ve spruced up this recipe into an amazing vegan feast below by omitting the ham and eggs and using vegan mayo. My secret ingredients? Toasted sesame seeds and fresh dill!
I served this new take on the old favorite at a party recently and people of Russian, Brazilian and US origin all went crazy for it. I suppose deep down we all find messy flavors of mushy vegetables smeared in mayonnaise with hints of pickle juice comforting and lovable!
I hope you give it a try. Looking for one last insider tip? Try it with some corn bread – you will go bananas, I guarantee it!!!
Vegan Olivier “Russian” Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds
What you’ll need:
2 15 oz (425g) cans peas and diced carrots (or 1 15 oz (425g) can each of sweet peas and diced carrots); you can also boil your own 1 1/2 cup finely diced carrots and the same amount of peas
3 14 oz (400g) cans whole white potatoes, or peel and boil two large potatoes until done
6-8 large kosher dill pickles (not sweet pickles – those will not work here!)
1 cup mayo (vegan)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 cup toasted sesame seeds (toasted in a toaster oven or on the stove top – if using a stove top method please watch out and use a lid as seeds will start to “jump” out of the pan as they get heated
1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
What you’ll do:
Chop all the vegetables that need chopping (carrots, potatoes and pickles) finely. Place in a large mixing bowl, add mayo, mustard, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped dill. Mix together until combined and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Serve with crackers, bread, corn bread or enjoy as is!
There’s always room for soup, and in some cases the soup is so rich that there’s room only for the soup. I definitely like making hearty soups that are rich and filling. I’ve already shared with you my split pea soup, which is on the left lighter side, and “clam” chowder and bean and leek soup with soy chorizo, which are both really more a meal in a bowl than a light intro to a main course.
Today’s soup is somewhere in between: not quite hearty enough to qualify as a meal yet not light by any means. It is full with vegetables and resembles Minestrone Soup. The soup builds on the classic mirepoix, a classic base of many soups and stews. Practically speaking mirepoix is a mix of diced carrots, onions and celery that is sautéed until caramelization starts to take place. This what I would normally do when making a soup like this but this time around I had to take a shortcut and I used a lot of frozen and canned veggies, including the frozen peas and carrots mix so my mirepoix started with only onions and celery.
At the end the soup came together well, with frozen corn and canned tomatoes and beans, and a whole bunch of kale. The main trick here was to let the soup simmer for a long time which helps soften kale, which has quite a sturdy leaf structure.
Hearty Vegetable Soup with Kale
What you’ll need:
6 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
16 oz (454 g) kale, roughly chopped
15.5 oz (439 g) can red kidney beans
2 cups yellow corn kernels, frozen
16 oz (454 g) peas and diced carrots mix, frozen
28 oz. (794 g) can crushed tomatoes
32 oz (907 g; 4 cups) vegetable stock
3 cups water
What you’ll do:
Dice celery and onions to a medium dice. It does not have to be very fine or precise because the whole soup is a bit rustic.
Spray the bottom of a large soup pot with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Add celery and onions and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, with occasional stirring.
While onions and celery are cooking, wash the kale and remove any parts of stalk that look particularly tough. Chop the kale roughly into smaller bits. If you are wondering how small should you make them, it’s really up to you. My preference is to keep them at about 2 in (5 cm). Set aside.
Add the frozen veggies in all at once and cook with stirring for 5 to 10 minutes. They will not be completely thawed but they will start to soften.
Add the beans – I usually drain and rinse mine but if you are a fan of keeping all the flavors of canned beans intact (including extra salt they use when canning) go ahead ad just dump the whole thing right in. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, stir again and cook for another 5 minutes.
At this point you are ready to add the kale. As with all other green leafy vegetables, the raw leaves occupy a significantly larger space than cooked, so don’t panic if adding the kale pushes your pot to its size limits. The kale will settle down. Gently fold the kale into the soup and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. By the end of this process your pot should look like it can fit the stock and water.
Add the stock and as much water as you like really. What I do is dump the stock into the pot and then use water to rinse the carton out. But if you would like to keep this Soup really dense and almost like a stew you can skip adding water.
Bring everything to boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes or until the kale is done to your liking.
Enjoy this soup with some fresh bread, top with some fresh parsley, with a squeeze of lemon or top with a bit of Cashew Sour Cream.