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"Jim" Beard's Russian Salad, 1954

There are few side dishes that work with as many mains as a delicious Russian salad. James Beard's 1954 recipe caught my eye. (He went by "Jim" for this book.)

One observation. His recipe would yield potatoes that were, I expect, a bit more "al dente" than one might be used to for a potato and mayo-type salad. I've included my own "Insalata Russa" recipe below his (page 205 in my cookbook) in case you'd like to try it as an alternative.

Here's how Jim's salad might have looked.


Combine 3 cups each of freshly cooked and chilled green peas, tiny cut string beans, carrots (diced small), potatoes and chopped raw onions. Pour over the vegetables ½ cup of good wine vinegar and ½ cup olive oil. Let them stand for 1 hour. Salt to taste. Blend well with a heavy mayonnaise. Arrange in a mound on a bed of lettuce, or fill a large oiled mold with the salad and unmold it on lettuce. Top with a dollop of mayonnaise. Garnish with chopped parsley and strips of pimiento and green pepper.

NOTE: The vegetables should be cooked quickly until just crisply tender.


The cover of his excellent cookbook.

And now, for the back cover!

Now may I present my recipe for "Insalata Russa," part of my Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Insalata Russa

Makes 8 to 12 servings

If I had to choose five goodwill recipes of mine from this book to put on a silicon disc to send to the moon on the next manned spaceflight, this would be one of them. The international potato salad that just goes with everything. You can even put a scoop of it in your gumbo!

2 large russet potatoes

1 cup carrots, cut in 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives

3 tablespoons capers

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup mayonnaise

16 ounces good quality smoked salmon

Grated zest of one lemon, for garnish

Minced parsley, for garnish

In medium pot cover potatoes with cold water, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Add carrots to pot. Cook till potatoes still firm but knife inserted in potato goes through easily (this is important), about 10 minutes. Drain all in colander, set under cold running water for 2 minutes.

Peel potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. In large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, olives, capers, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Fold in mayo. Make sure all ingredients are well coated. Refrigerate in sealed container overnight so flavors can blend.

Bon appétit!

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