Romanian Potato Salad – Salata Boeuf

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Come to the Christmas dinner in any Romanian home and you’ll most probably have the opportunity to try Salata Boeuf. After that, chances are that you’ll fall in love with it and miss it wherever you go.

Salata Boeuf, or Salata de Boeuf, is a typical Romanian dish, a potato salad served as appetizer at festive dinners, especially during winter time. Why winter time? Well, because that’s the time when people have pickles in their pantries and because the Boeuf Salad calls for lots of pickles such as gherkins and red bell peppers.

As “boeuf” is the French for “beef”, you’d be tempted to think this is a French recipe. I thought so, too. However, it seems the recipe has Russian origins: it’s similar to the Olivier Salad, which is Russian.

This is my Romanian potato salad recipe, a classic that can’t go wrong.

Take about one pound beef meat and wash it. Since we are going to use the pressure cooker, you can buy cheaper cuts of beef such as brisket, because it’s going to end up tender anyway.

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Peel three carrots, a celery root, a parsnip and an onion. Put them in the pressure cooker together with the beef and a teaspoon of salt and fill it about three quarters with water. It is important not to fill it above that limit because if you do, the cooker will spit hot water on you and on everything on a 2 feet range around the stove. Please don’t ask me how I know that. I just know ;)

Pressure cooker ready to go

Pressure cooker ready to go

Cook the food for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, wait until all steam is gone, then remove the lid and check to see if the beef is cooked. The vegetables will be cooked for sure. If the beef is tender, you’re done. If not, take the vegetables out of the pressure cooker, put the lid back on and keep on cooking for 30 minutes more.

In another pot, boil 4-5 medium size potatoes. If you want, you can add the potatoes into the pressure cooker with the other ingredients. Be aware that if you do so, they will end up overcooked and you may not be very happy about that. I’m not, so I boil them separately.

After you boil all vegetables, let them cool before you chop them. If you want, you can put them in the fridge and finish the salad in a few hours or even the next day. Anyway, retain the beef broth for other meals. I, for instance, used it for my French onion soup recipe and for the mushrooms quesadilla recipe.

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Dice the carrots, parsnip and celery root.

Chopped carrots

Diced carrots

Dice 6-7 gherkins.

Diced gherkins

Diced gherkins

Chop 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves.

Pickled red pepper

Pickled red pepper

Chop the beef.

Chopped beef

Chopped beef

Mix everything in a very large pot. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Optionally you can add two tablespoons of mustard.

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Add about 1/2 pound mayonnaise and mix well.

Spoon the potato salad mixture into bowls. If you prepare this for a festive dinner with more than 4 guests, it’s a good idea to split it into a few bowls, in order to make it easier to reach for everybody at the table.

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Pour some mayonnaise on top of each potato salad bowl.

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Spread the mayonnaise onto the salad surface as if you were painting a wall. You can use a spoon, fork or knife to do that.

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Now it’s time to decorate the bowls. This will turn a simple potato salad into Salata Boeuf. Use gherkins, picked red bell peppers and black olives and let your creativity flow. If you have kids, you can ask them to help you. They will love it. Here’s what I did with my potato salad bowls:

Salata Boeuf decoration ideas

Salata Boeuf decoration idea

… and the second one:

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Chill the salads in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium size potatoes
  • 1 onion ( to be discarded after boiling or used for some other dish)
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 celery root
  • 1 pound beef
  • 6-7 gherkins + 2 for decor
  • 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves + 2 for decor
  • 5-6 black olives (for decor)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound mayonnaise + three tablespoons more for decorating the bowls
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Bacon Potato Soup Recipe

Ingredients for 4-5 servings:

  • 2 large potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 celery root, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 4 bacon slices, crispy, freshly cooked, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cups water

Directions:
In a covered pot, boil the onion, potatoes, celery and parsnip in salty water for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add the carrot and the bacon and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat. Serve hot, topped with sour cream and fresh parsley.

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Vegetable Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 celery root, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper

Directions:
Put the onions, celery, carrots, parsnip, beans and potatoes in a soup pot, half filled with water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt, tomatoes, cabbage, corn and bell pepper. Simmer until all vegetables are tender (which is probably 10-15 minutes). Add parsley. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot, with fresh ground black pepper sprinkled on top.

Recipe variant: for more flavor, you can saute the onions in extra virgin olive oil before adding them to the soup.

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Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

I don’t know why, but cooking chicken noodle soup reminds me of childhood. InĀ  fact I know where this memory comes from: mum would cook this kind of soup for us whenever we were sick, or in those freezing cold winter days. It was so much of a comforting sensation, to eat a cup of that warm, hearty soup, after hours of playing in the snow!

Chicken noodle soup - Yummy!

Chicken noodle soup - Yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken, cut in 4-6 pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, diced or sliced
  • 1-2 onions, cut in wedges or chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups noodles (homemade are the best, but you can find some good ones in shops as well)
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Put the stock in a pot, add the chicken, salt, onions, parsnip, carrots and half of the parsley. If the stock is not enough to cover the chicken, add water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the chicken is tender. Skim the soup from time to time, whenever needed. Take the chicken out of the broth and put it in a large bowl. Discard all vegetables and strain the broth through a sieve.

Remove skin and bones from the chicken and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add the strained broth, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, then set the heat to low and add the noodles and the rest of the parsley. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the noodles are done. Serve hot.

Chicken noodles soup and an unexpected guest

Chicken noodles soup and an unexpected guest

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