Store-cupboard saviours: Russian salad

October 3, 2014

Russian salad recipe
Growing up, it always vexed me when I’d rummage in the fridge and find, I don’t know, a cup containing a tablespoonful of cooked peas, or an open can of baked beans, or half an ounce of cheese carefully wrapped in cling film. In teenage fashion, I would harp on at my mum to throw out these odds and ends and fill the fridge with ‘proper food’. How time makes fools of us all: now that I’m the one paying the bills, I’m just as pathological about using up leftovers as my mum ever was.

What’s more, having spent the first year of my career editing Ready Steady Cook recipes for the BBC Food website, I consider myself a dab hand at turning a random haul of ingredients into something halfway edible. This is where the store-cupboard comes into its own – this is as true in real life as it was on TV, when the RSC contestant brought in a kilo of potatoes, a tea towel and a cheeky grin, and the chefs would plunder the depths of the show’s pantry for far-fetched ‘staples’.

This is one of Juan’s favourite dishes. It’s served everywhere in Spain as a tapa – probably because it can make all sorts of ingredients that would otherwise have been heading for the bin pay their way. It’s perfect for a pre-payday bite because it uses lots of store-cupboard ingredients; it would also hold its own at a picnic or barbecue, especially if you soup it up by making your own mayo. The following make great substitutes/additions: tinned salmon, peas, tinned butterbeans, chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, leftover green beans… you get the idea.

3.0 from 2 reviews
Russian salad (ensaladilla Rusa)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This moreish potato salad is served everywhere in Spain as a tapa - probably because it can make all sorts of ingredients that would otherwise have been heading for the bin pay their way. Which is why it's perfect for a pre-payday fix.
Recipe type: salad, light meal
Serves: 2
  • 3 Maris Piper potatoes, boiled and chilled (or use leftover boiled potatoes)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • ½ jar pitted green olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tin tuna
  • ¼ white onion, finely chopped
  • ½ small tin sweetcorn
  • 4-5 tbsp mayonnaise (or more if you like it more creamy)
  1. Cut the chilled potatoes into small cubes. Mash the eggs.
  2. Mix the potatoes, eggs and all the other ingredients together in a large bowl. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Chill again and serve.
What are your store-cupboard saviours?

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    Reply Angela October 3, 2014 at 8:04 am

    This looks great, I’ll definitely be making it. A combination of two of my favourite things, potato salad and boiled eggs.

    My staple meal from the back of the storecupboard/fridge, is a puttanesca. I always have capers and a jar of olives in the fridge, there’s nearly always a tin of tomatoes, some balsamic vinegar and a pack of spaghetti in the cupboard.

    I usually add in some onion and a dried chilli and it turns out different every time, but it’s always edible.

    • Reply Nicky October 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Yes, potato and egg is Juan’s favourite combo too! So Spanish tortilla for him is absolute heaven (of course). Puttanesca is a great one – I tend to freeze fresh chillies so would pop one of those into the mix. I like those classic pasta dishes – although I have been meaning to try Nigella’s Marmite spaghetti for ages now. Mmm, nearly dinner time…

    Reply Richard October 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Next week, ‘Pasta Mess’ (c.1997)

    • Reply Nicky October 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Ha ha, Richard. Ha. (This is an inside joke from my brother, who is reminding me of the strange pasta dishes we used to make when left to our own devices as children. I won’t be sharing them here – I think you had to be there..!)

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