A Traditional Dominican Potato Salad Packs Too Much Flavor Not To Try

Potato salad is a beloved side dish in the U.S. and overseas. But in some countries, people serve it as a main course. Additionally, each country and region uses different ingredients. For example, Norwegians add pickled herring and sour apples for a tangy twist. Italians, on the other hand, mix potatoes with capers, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, greens, olive oil, and vinegar. Ensalada rusa, or Dominican potato salad, contains lots of veggies and has a light texture that's just perfect during the summer months. What sets it apart is the addition of carrots or beets, which gives it a slightly sweet flavor.

In the Dominican Republic, ensalada rusa is usually served on special occasions, such as Christmas and family gatherings. Some say it was invented in Russia in the 19th century, but its exact origins are unknown. Over the years, it became popular in France, Spain, and Latin America. The recipe varies from one region to the next, but most versions call for potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, beets, onions, mayo, vinegar, and spices.

This beloved dish takes minutes to prepare and can be served alone or with meat, fish, or poultry. Another option is to use it as stuffing for bell peppers, tomatoes, or homemade tortillas, and enjoy it as a snack between meals. The best part is, you can swap ingredients and experiment with new flavors to put your own twist on it.

How to make a traditional Dominican potato salad

A traditional Dominican potato salad is tangier and sweeter than its American counterpart, but the flavor will vary depending on the ingredients used. While several versions exist, they all require three main ingredients: potatoes, mayo, and eggs. Apart from that, you may add beets, carrots, corn, green peas, red onions, white vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and other extras.

First, boil about 2 pounds of red potatoes with the skin on. Once they're halfway cooked, add the carrots or beets and other veggies — except for the onions. Meanwhile, boil or steam 5 or 6 eggs in a separate pot. Remove the potatoes from the water when they're done cooking and let them cool to room temperature. Peel and chop them, cut the veggies into small pieces, and place them in a large bowl. Next, chop the boiled eggs and 1-2 onions and add them to the potato mix.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of homemade mayonnaise, 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar, salt, and pepper. (Some people also add mustard, but that's optional.) Last, mix all ingredients, garnish with parsley or dill, and add salt to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving so the flavors can meld. 

Add a personal twist to it

The above recipe is just a starting point, and you can customize it to your taste. Sprinkle potato chips on top for a crunchy texture, add paprika for a smoky flavor, or mix in capers and olives for a Mediterranean feel. Better yet, check out these delicious ways potato salad is enjoyed around the world for a boost of inspiration.

Remember, there are no hard rules on how to make ensalada rusa. If, say, you want to cut back on fat, swap the mayo for Greek yogurt. For extra protein, add tuna, smoked salmon, or grilled chicken breast to the mix. You can also combine the potatoes and veggies with finely chopped jalapeños, sliced apples, or pickles, toss in some toasted nuts for crunchiness, or sprinkle a dash of hot sauce on it for a spicy kick.

As a side note, Dominican potato salad is traditionally served along with other dishes, such as pollo guisado, or chicken stew, beans and rice, or roasted pork. However, you can enjoy it as a standalone meal, especially if you add tuna, ham, or other protein sources. Use the leftovers in a frittata or quiche, or spread them over toasted baguette slices and top with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. Alternatively, incorporate them into pasta salads or sandwiches for a quick, filling meal.