Romanian Oriental Potato Salad... or Salata Orientala
I decided to post yet another Romanian dish... a potato salad I made recently. It's an easy salad to make....well, as long as the potatoes and eggs are cooked correctly:). But it's a salad both my husband and I grew up with...and enjoyed very much. We always liked it better when the salad had plenty of olives and eggs. Sometimes I made it a point to choose the eggs and olives over the potatoes.... "fished" them out of the salad when no one was looking... but I was a kid back then:). Now I enjoy the potatoes as well....
I have no clue why the salad is called, Oriental Salad....except that maybe during the earlier, earlier days when the word "orient" would have described what was known as Egypt, Syria and the surrounding areas. The name would then make sense... because of the olives in the salad. Well, that's my explanation anyway:)...
In any case, we LOVE this salad...a rustic-looking one at that...but delicious nonetheless. There's something special about a dish that uses just a few simple ingredients.... and ends up tasting incredible. The flavors of the briny olives, with the onions and eggs make for a different sort of potato salad...a potato salad that's packed with a ton of flavor. And even though we might normally associate a potato salad with mayonnaise... the oil and vinegar dressing is all the salad needs.
I am posting the recipe as I knew it growing up...there might be other versions... some with chopped pickles, other vegetables, with mayo, or even omitting the vinegar. I personally love the tartness of the vinegar, and couldn't possibly omit it. So I usually adjust the oil and vinegar amount according to our tastes. The vinegar tends to mellow out a bit as the salad sits.
Even though this salad is quite simple to make, and I've made it many times, I thought it would be nice to add it to my Romanian section. At the same time, introduce it to those of you who haven't come across it before. This tasty dish can be eaten on its own.... or even used as a side dish. Hope you enjoy...
Note: Feel free to adjust vinegar and oil amounts to preference....you may need to add more or less. The amount also depends on how many potatoes are used....and russet potatoes, in general, tend to absorb more liquid.
~You can opt to use a rice vinegar, which is milder in taste.
~I love the salad the following day...the flavors intensify.
You will need:
4-5 baking potatoes, boiled till fork tender
1/2 of a large red onion, sliced
4-5 hard boiled eggs, sliced, or to taste
1/2 -3/4 cup whole kalamata olives, or to taste
4-6 TBS olive oil, or to taste
4-6 TBS apple cider vinegar, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, but not falling apart....I used my pressure cooker to do this(about 12-15 minutes or so depending on the size of potatoes). While the potatoes are cooking, cook the eggs until hard.
2. Peel and slice the potatoes while still warm and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of oil over them( 1 -2 TBS) and toss gently.
3. Slice onion thinly and run hot water over the onion... this is optional, but this step takes the "bite" out of the onions.... add the sliced onion to the potatoes.
4. Add the olives and toss gently to combine.
5. Peel and slice the eggs, and add to the potato salad... you can reserve a few slices for garnish if you like.
6. Mix oil and vinegar( use the lesser amount, as you can always add more oil or vinegar at the end) and pour over the potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Mix everything gently... trying to keep the potatoes intact as much as possible....the potatoes and eggs will still crumble, but you just don't want a mushy salad.
8. Adjust seasoning... add more vinegar or oil as needed. You want the salad to have some moistness... I find the salad takes in more vinegar than other salads. The salad should have a tinge of tartness. As the salad sits a bit, the potatoes will absorb quite a bit of the dressing.
9. Garnish with extra egg slices/ olives.... and serve warm...or cold.