Ensaladilla rusa: a very traditional tapa

Ensaladilla rusa is a typical Spanish dish that is served as a tapa. What does this mean? Well, it means that a large quantity of this dish is prepared and then stored in a container. Later on, portions for one, two, three, etc. persons are served as a tapa. What the tapas look like varies a lot between the different regions of Spain. Ensaladilla, for example, can be served as a ball on a plate, decorated with pieces of bread. Sometimes it’s served on a piece of bread or a breadstick and decorated with olives, yolk or an anchovy like for example in the Region of Murcia. Whatever way, it’s delicious.

Where does it come from?

Although this dish is called “ensaladilla rusa”, it doesn’t seem to come from Russia. It became popular through a chef called Lucien Olivier who had a very popular restaurant in Moscow. You can find similar ensaladillas in various countries across the world, even though they might have different names. Its origin is unclear, since it’s mentioned in various 19th century cookery books.

The recipe

Next, I will give you the recipe I use for preparing the ensaladilla. It’s not the only way to prepare it. Everyone adds or removes ingredients, depending on what they like or don’t. Quantities are by eye. What does this mean? Well, that there’s no specification of the exact quantities of ingredients, but that they are approximate.


  • Peel the potatoes and the carrots and cook them.
  • Boil the eggs.
  • When the potatoes, the carrots and the eggs are done, strain the water and let them cool down.
  • Once they are cold, cut the potatoes and eggs in pieces and put them in a bowl.
  • Pull apart the tuna and add it. Afterwards, cut the olives and grate the carrots. Add both ingredients to the bowl.
  • Salt and pepper to taste and add a tablespoon of mayonnaise.*
  • Mix thoroughly and afterwards add the mayonnaise little by little while mixing until you like the consistency and the taste.
  • Put the mixture in a container, if possible in one made of glass, and put it in the fridge to chill.
  • Serve in balls by the spoonful on breadsticks, etc., the way you like it most.

*The amount of mayonnaise is optional. Some like it with lots of mayonnaise, others with less. Keep tasting until you reach the amount you like.

Try this recipe and practice Spanish while preparing a typical tapa! After reading the text and learning the new vocabulary that appears in it, you can relax by eating some ensaladilla and having a drink (maybe some Spanish wine?) 😉 and enjoy the taste of Spain.

Author’s note

You can find two interesting articles in the references with much more information about this typical dish. It’s interesting to read for language students from a B2 level on. Furthermore, you can find many different pictures of the various serving forms of this dish on the Internet.


Featured image: dl Spanish lessons
Pictures 01-07: dl Spanish lessons


¿Es rusa la Ensaladilla Rusa?, El Comidista
Ensalada Rusa, Wikipedia.