Svetlana's Russian Salad

February 7, 2014

Svetlana's Russian Salad

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games begin today in Sochi, Russia. Athletes from all over the world come together and will compete in a variety of events. I LOVE the Winter Games. I mean, where else you get to watch sports like speed skating, short-track, freestyle ski or curling?
Yes, curling - one of the least understood and lower profile sports ever.
To me curling is nothing more that a mixture of shuffleboard and bocce on ice.
I honestly can't see where any athletic ability comes into play during curling. Throwing a stone and sweeping the ice is not like doing a crippler trick with the snowboard. However, there are some very sophisticated tactics - not to mention abilities - involved in the game of curling, that's why I enjoy watching it during the Winter Games. I have an uncanny sweeping ability, and I feel that someday, when I'm old and not able to compete in triathlons anymore, I could be a pretty decent curler, provided that I learn the tricks.
Anyways, to celebrate the beginning of the Olympic Games, today I’m making a classic Russian dish: Olivier salad, also known as Russian salad.
A salad usually made with diced boiled veggies, hard boiled egg and dressed with mayo.
But wait, this is not A recipe for Russian salad, this is my friend Svetlana’s recipe for Russian salad; and it's special.
Who’s Svetlana, you ask?
Let me do the introductions then; people, this is my friend Svet:

Svetlana is originally from Lithuania (OK, not from Russia) and she’s a supermodel.
The best word to describe her is: awesome (and not just because of her looks!)

Svet on Elle

A total tomboy, really down to earth and a lot of fun to be around, she’s one of my best friends.
We’ve know each other forever (we used to be roommates) and we’ve never had an argument, let alone a fight.
Our friendship is so strong, we consider each other like family.
We're both total goofballs/dorks and we have so much fun together (and that happened from the very first moment we met each other).

Svet & Mike

Like anyone whose body is her source of income, Svet is conscious of her figure.
To keep in excellent shape, she eats healthy food and works out regularly.
Svet is not one of those models that employs all kind of dangerous techniques to look good. She has never done hypnosis or swallowed cotton balls to control hunger; or done crazy diets such as the lettuce soup diet, the lemon juice diet, let alone she uses extreme diet pills.
She’s far too smart for that.
Svet knows that eating nutritious food and working-out are the best things she can do to be healthy and look good.
Svetlana's Russian Salad
Any-hoo, as mentioned, Svet is from Lithuania - not part of Russia - but close enough to have similar culinary traditions (Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union after all).
As far as I understand, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with Eastern European (Polish, Ukrainian and Russian) and some similarities to Scandinavian cuisine, also Hungarian, Romanian, and Georgian influences. Svetlana's Russian Salad
This recipe for Russian salad has been in Svet’s family forever.
Super simple to make, it’s full of veggies, has a good protein content and is so very yummy.
It fills your stomach, makes you happy and hey, it’s supermodel approved!

Svetlana’s Russian Salad
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Serves 6

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups / 7 oz / 200 gr green peas
4 oz / 113 gr dill pickles, chopped
3 large free-range organic eggs
1 container (7 oz / 200 gr) Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (use this recipe to make paleo mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook carrot cubes first in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Fish them out the water with a slotted spoon, drain and let cool.
Then cook the potato cubes for 6 to 7 minutes (you want the potatoes to retain a bit of crunch).
Fish them out of the water with a slotted spoon, drain and let cool.
Lastly, cook the green peas. I used frozen ones, so I cooked them according to package instructions. If you’re using fresh ones, it shouldn’t take longer than 2 minutes. Once cooked, drain and let cool.
In the meantime, put the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water by a ½-inch. Bring to a gently boil over medium-high heat. When the eggs start rattling against the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for about 7 to 8 minutes. When the egg are through cooking, place the sauce pan under cold running water and for about 3 minutes, long enough to stop the cooking.
Carefully peel the eggs and roughly chop them.
In a small bowl combine mayo, Greek yogurt, vinegar, olive oil, one tablespoon of dill, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine potatoes, carrots, green peas, pickles, and eggs. Add mayo mixture and stir until well combined.
Sprinkle with remaining dill and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 359 calories, 17 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbs and 18 grams of protein.


  1. You guys look fantastic, such a great friendship! And what a gorgeous salad that is.

  2. What fun photos!! The salad sounds delicious (however, would have to leave out the peas for hubby's portion, LOL).

    1. Sure Lauren, you can definitely tweak the recipe to your liking!

  3. Such a fun post and a great recipe!

  4. Awww- love this post Mike!
    Beautiful friendships are lovely to see - and yalls looks like an amazingly beautiful one! Thanks for sharing this part of your life, and Svet's amazing egg and veggie salad with us!

    And I learned something I had never heard of before - people swallow cotton balls to stave off hunger!? GAH! :) Hope your weekend is wonderful

    1. The cotton ball practice is weird, I know, but it happens (and far too often!)
      I hope you're having a great weekend too Shash!

  5. This was such a sweet post indeed! What a lovely friendship guys! She does really look amazing, and it's nice to see that she doesn't need to go on those stupid diets yet she still looks fab. What a great inspiration!
    This salad looks amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe : )
    Have a fantastic weekend!

  6. What a great friendship :) I love the photos, and love the recipe - it sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing it.

  7. this sounds like such a yummy salad!

  8. Loving this post AND the salad Mike! Thanks for sharing

  9. That's a sweet post. Your friend is gorgeous and so is her salad. Great friendships are precious.
    We are ready for the inauguration and I just wish I had a bowl of the salad, yummy.

    1. How good was the Opening Ceremony? It was seriously AMAZING!

  10. No joke... I had that same exact conversation about curling with my buddy as we were working out this morning at the gym. I'm literally watching the opening ceremony right now as I type this and the announcer just was saying how the curler "athlete" walking in is a full-time banker or something and just trains after work. I think we should start our own curling team and see if we can make it to the olympic team.

    1. Let's do it Chris! I'll grab the broom and meet you down the street in 5 so we can start right away. OK?

  11. Two things: I'm Canadian and I hate curling. I even grew up 100k (60 miles) from the great curler Sandra Schmirler (which, incidently, is not her maiden name, nor the name of her first or second husband, I think she made it up because it rhymed with "curler" but I digress). I hate watching curling, and I've tried to play it, and I hated that too. I'll argue with anyone that it is a game, not a sport. HOWEVER, just because I - or you - am good at some things (I'm only good at running, but theoretically I could be good at other things), doesn't mean that I'd be a good curler. It's difficult and I stink at it, it requires finesse. You probably would stink at it too, so don't insult it. Too much. Even though it's just a game, not a sport.

  12. My mistake. Schmirler was her maiden name. (oh Wikipedia, is there anything you don't know?) Why would my friend have lied to me? She's the curling fan, not me. I'm gonna phone her in the middle of the night, just to freak her out.

    1. OK, got it. I'll stick to triathlon for as long as I can.
      But you spiked my curiosity, I want to try curling now and see for myself how complicated it is.

      PS Did you actually called your friend in the middle of night?

    2. No, I didn't. I'm not that mean.

      Once upon a time, when I was a young intern looking for a job as a teacher, a friend of mine put me on a curling team (just a fun night) with the superintendent of the school division. I took the first shot and landed the rock right on the button (which is strategically a useless move, but looked impressive for a first timer). They all stood around stunned, probably thinking that they had some curling prodigy on their hands. Then someone explained "curling" which is giving the rock a slight out or in turn as you let it go, causing it to ... um... do something... curl, I think.

      Anyway, then I became completely useless, my rocks spinning out of control through the house or, more often, not getting down the ice.

      I never got a job in that division.

      Want me to tell you the story of how my brother (who also doesn't curl except on "fun" nights) got a curling concussion and permanently lost 2 days of his memory?

    3. This story is so funny, it cracked me up! :D
      Now I want to hear all about your brother's - as long as he's cool with you sharing it with us.

    4. Speaking of cracking up...

      So my brother was curling in a fundraiser bondspiel (fun new word, spelled incorrectly). His wife was on another team. She (M) was in the middle of a game, when the whole place went quiet. You know that sound - actually it's more of a non sound - when a head makes contact with cement or ice - that thudding vibration that everyone feels and sends shivers up the spine. Everyone was looking towards my bro's (P) team, as they surrounded an inert body on the ice. M slid on over to find it was P that was down. "P, P, are you okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine." "Are you sure?" "Yep, yep, help me up."
      So his team helps him up - yeah yeah, I'm okay...he looks okay...i think he's okay.... on with the game.
      So his teammate shoots. P sweeps. His other teammate shoots, P sweeps. "Okay, P, your shot." "No." "yes, P, it's your turn." "Uh, no..." "P, come on...." "No, I don't curl...!"
      Uh, M, you better get over here and take him to a doctor.

      All the way to the hospital, this was the conversation.
      P: Where are we going?
      M: To the hospital.
      P: Why, what's wrong with you?
      M: Nothing, YOU hit your head.
      P: How did I hit my head?
      M: You were curling and you slipped.
      P: I don't curl!
      M: It was a funspiel, you were curling with G and R.
      P: No, I don't curl. Where are the girls? I wanna go to my birthday party.
      M: That was yesterday, P. We were CURLING.
      P: I don't curl. Hey, where are we going?
      M: To the hospital.
      P: Why, what's wrong with you?

      M said they repeated this conversation 4 or 5 times on the way to the hospital. P doesn't remember anything until a nurse shone a flashlight in his eye at 4 in the morning. Apparently she had been doing it on the half hour for 4 hours.

      I asked P about it a couple of days later: "Hey P, how's turning 50?" "It sucks, I ache all over and I'm already losing my memory." ha ha.

      He never did remember his birthday party.

    5. I forgot the moral of the story: Curling is hard. And dangerous. And it still sucks. So forget about it.

  13. What a great story! I love learning how other in-shape girls eat and their daily routine. You two are so cute together! It's great to get a more personal look into your life, Mike. :-)

  14. Well, this is not really a "Russian" salad, as we - in Slovakia - make the same salad as well (with mayonnaise and no dill, but the "healthier" version is with yogurt). It's also our Christmas dinner salad, we eat it with fried carp. And for a special occasion we eat this salad with a Schnitzel. We just love this salad! And similar salads are made in all Eastern European countries, I guess.
    Svetlana is beautiful. As almost all girls from the "Eastern Bloc"...

    1. Well Mia, this dish is called Russian Salad (or Olivier Salad) because it was invented in the 1860s by the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow's most celebrated restaurants.
      Since then it has become a traditional salad dish in Russian cuisine, and even if is now popular in many other European countries; it originated in Russia, hence the name.

  15. Them Baltic beauties! This post has ATOMIC written all over it. Fact.

  16. Great story, can't believe someone would swallow cotton balls, that is kind of sad. Beautiful salad!

  17. If I were Svetlana, I would feel INCREDIBLY SPECIAL RIGHT NOW!!! Yes, you might consider her "family".... But, do I sense a little, itty, bitty crush ;)

  18. Lithuanians really do not like being reminded of their USSR past (50 years of Russian occupation was anything but happy) and that they "basically are Russians". Which we are so not. I don't know what Svetlana has told you, but in Lithuania the salad is called Lithuanian salad. But of course Olivier salad is popular not only in Lithuania, but in Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Argentina... so you can have Russian salad on Monday, Pakistani salad on Tuesday and Argentinian salad on Wednesday, and all the dishes would be the same thing.
    Anyway, interesting twist on cubing the veggies before boiling them. We usually boil them, peel them and then cube them - in that order. Too mush hustle with cooking already cubed vegetables.

  19. I think I would have enjoyed this post if you just introduced Svetlana as your friend and not mentioned she was a supermodel as it sounds rather shallow.

    But I'm guessing you're from New York where everyone is a model so your comments come as no surprise.

  20. I'm gonna try this recepy tonight, even though the weather here in the Netherlands isn't very combining. Just wanted to say that there's a tiny mistake in the recepy at the nutrition facts. The 'fat' is called two times, in stead of the carbs. Thanks a lot for you lovely recipes!

    1. Thanks Eline, I've just fixed that :)
      Oh btw, I love the Netherlands. Amsterdam is one my fave cities in the world, not to mention Utrecht and beautiful!

  21. That's almost exactly how my mom makes it (minus the yogurt, plus ham) and she is from Russia. So go Svetlana! It's called Vinaigrette, I think (shares a name with the salad dressing).

  22. Never mind, Olivier it's called. Vinaigrette is with beets.

  23. Excellent work Mike. Give Svet our compliments for this super healthy version of Russian salad. She substituted mayo with Greek yogurt, that's so similar to sour cream. The result is lighter and delicious. This will be the side for the Horiatiko sausages int he BBQ tomorrow.
    Thanx for sharing it with us Mike! Oh, and AMAZING photography btw.
    Panos and Mirella