Recipe: Ensalada Rusa from Spain and Peru

I recently returned from a trip to sunny Barcelona, where I came across a familiar salad or tapa that I had come across in South America: Ensalada Rusa. 

Ensalada Rusa (Russian Saladis a potato salad dish, most commonly eaten in Spain, made with peas, carrots, peppers, olives and tuna. However, this potato salad is enjoyed all over Europe, the US and South America, with many different variations.


South America will always be influenced by its Spanish heritage, from the language and the customs to the culture and the food. Peruvian food is no exception. 

Across the Atlantic, Ensalada Rusa is enjoyed in the US and across South America, with all sorts of different recipes. But no matter where you eat it, all Ensalada Rusas will have these key ingredients: potatoes, peas, carrots and mayonnaise.

The Peruvian Ensalada Rusa that I remember from my time in Peru stands out from all the others I have seen, mainly because of it’s colour: purple. The Peruvians have adapted the traditional Ensalada Rusa to their own tastes and styles, using beetroot, giving the salad a rich distinctive colour.

I liked the Peruvian version with beetroot, but loved the Spanish version with tuna and olives, so I decided to make a batch of both to help me decide on my favourite…

Recipe: Ensalada Rusa (Spanish)


  • 500g baby potatoes
  • 75g frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, sweetcorn, peppers)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ white onion
  • 2 tbsps light mayonnaise
  • ½ tbsp fat-free yoghurt
  • 1 can of tuna chunks in brine, drained
  • Small handful of pitted green olives, chopped up
  • Pinch of dried coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe: Ensalada Rusa Peruana (Peruvian)


  • 500g baby potatoes
  • 75g frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, sweetcorn, peppers)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (optional)
  • 4 cooked beetroot
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise 
  • 1 tbsp fat-free yoghurt
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Both recipes are really simple to make. Simply peel, chop and boil the potatoes until they are cooked but still firm enough to mix with disintegrating like mash. At the same time, boil the frozen mixed vegetables. Obviously, you can use fresh vegetables for better flavour but for convenience, I used frozen.

Leave the potatoes and vegetables to cool before mixing.

For the Spanish Ensalada, lightly fry the onion until soft and drain the tuna chunks. Chop up the olives and then mix all the ingredients together along with the mayonnaise, yoghurt, lemon juice and seasoning. I chose to add yoghurt for a smoother texture and fresher taste.

For the Peruvian Ensalada, chop up the cooked beetroot into small chunks and mix all the ingredients together with the mayonnaise, yoghurt and dash of white wine vinegar. Serve with the boiled eggs on top as a classic Peruvian garnish.

Ensalada Rusa is a really great salad to serve up at a barbecue, picnic or as a stuffed avocado filling (in true Peruvian style).

I found that the Spanish Ensalada Rusa is a lot more filling with the tuna, and holds its own as a lunchtime meal, without anything else.

The Ensalada Rusa Peruana is better as healthy, colourful accompaniment to roast chicken or a burger.

Whatever version you choose, you can’t really go wrong with an Ensalada Rusa at your next barbecue.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. I adore Ensala Rusa and this sounds just terrific. Well done!

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