♝Russian New Year: Low-Carb Salad Olivier ♝

Thursday, January 8, 2015

In honor of the fact that January 7th is “Christmas” in Russia, falling after “the New Year,” С Новым Годом (Ssss-noh-veuem gah-dohm). [This means “Happy New Year”.] Since the Soviet period, when the government “let go” of religion, Russians have celebrated “Christmas” on January 7th. To be entirely honest, the phrase "С Новым Годом" even confuses me...it is said on "Christmas" (the 7th) but translates to "Happy New Year." All in good holiday spirit, I guess. New Year’s celebrations have historically lasted from December 31st-January 10th. I may be a day late, but I figured it was the perfect time of year to try out a traditional Russian "New Year" recipe. Behold: Салат Оливье (Salad Olivier). 

This salad was created in the 1860s by chef Lucien Olivier for the “Hermitage” restaurant in Moscow. The history of Russo-French cuisine is actually very interesting and intertwined (thanks Napoleon) but I’ll go into details about that some other time. For now, know that Salad Olivier is traditionally served on New Year’s and is known for its historically “elite” ingredients (crayfish, black caviar, boiled hen, capers). Like many archetypal “Russian” products pre-USSR, it was a dish envisioned and reserved for the elite of the country....and it had a French influence.

During Soviet times, as ingredients’ availabilities changed so did the recipe for Salad Olivier. While the traditional recipe called for caviar, hen, crawfish, etc, the meat used during Soviet times tended to be ham, salami, or chicken.

While it’s considered a traditional New Year mainstay, Salad Olivier has been ever-evolving both in composition and consumer base. It started out as a dish reserved for the Russian elite and transformed from “Russian” (fancy) to “Soviet” (populist/utilitarianwith traces of its “sophisticated” beginnings and its affinity for culture.) [See this article for reference.] Today it's enjoyed by Russians of all ages and salaries.

Like all recipes on Russian Dressing, I tried a low-carb (and to be quite honest, more “Soviet” than “Tsarist”) take on this traditionally fancy dish. When this is done in low-carb style, it’s a really healthy dish!

Here's what you need:
  • 6 oz radishes (boil them like this recipe to achieve the potato-esque consistency)
  • 1 medium cucumber + dill pickle juice (regular pickles also work fine)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs (if you have extra olive or pickle juice, pickled boiled eggs are great!)
  • protein (I used a rotisserie chicken thigh and about 1 oz salami)
  • 1.5 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tbsp of FULL FAT Greek Yogurt (Chobani is excellent!)
Traditionally, peas, carrots, and potatoes are used in Salad Olivier, but since these veggies are high in carbohydrates, I used radishes instead. Olives are often typically used but I ran out (hence the empty jar of olive juice I used to "pickle" the eggs). There is no right or wrong in ingredients in Salad Olivier; the key thing is to use the ingredients in approximately equal proportions. 
I am currently watching my calories/weight, which is why I "skimped" on the mayonnaise...to "lighten" this dish us, use equal parts mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. This portion needs no more than 3-5 tbsp of the combined "spreads".
*Note: I pickled my eggs and cucumbers overnight...I recommend "pickling" for an extended period of time.*
Begin by boiling your eggs and cutting up the cucumber. Prepare your "pickling juices." I used about 1/2-2/3 of my cucumber...it wouldn't all fit in the jar!

Pickle overnight. Here’s what to do “in the new year”:

Boil radishes. Use as base.

Add in animal proteins (eggs included). Mush everything together.  

 Next add the cucumber. Some recipes call for dill, but if you are using pickled cucumbers or just straight up pickles, you have all the dill you need!
Eventually add in the "spreads"-1.5 tbsp of mayonnaise and approximately 2 tbsp full-fat Greek yogurt. Add mustard if desired.

Total Calories: approximately 720 calories for large bowl. (2 servings= 360 calories)
40 g fat (20 g/serving)
36 g protein (18 g/serving)
5 carbs (2.5 g/serving)
Extremely Keto-friendly and extremely delicious! And extremely great for New Year's "healthy" resolutions! 

С Новым Годом!

xo  SFB

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