A Romanian style potato salad with eggs, olives and gherkins, easy to make and always a delight.
This is the one potato salad my grandmother used to make a lot, the only potato salad she ever made, I think. Everybody in Romania makes it, you could call this Potato Salad with Eggs, Olives and Gherkins a national dish.
Just a few tasty ingredients, a minimum of work and there you have it, lunch or dinner in no time, no need for anything else. We used to have this potato salad very often, and I remember eating it not only in my grandmother’s house, but also in her sister’s house or in my aunt’s house. And all of them always used the exact same ingredients to make it: potatoes, onion, hard boiled eggs, gherkins and olives, mostly black olives.
Salata orientala or Oriental Potato Salad, I have no idea why oriental, I could hardly say what is it that makes it oriental… Maybe because it has olives? No idea! Olives don’t grow in Romania, but still they are a very common ingredient in the Romanian cuisine, so it seems strange to me that somebody would call this salad oriental just because of them…
What are the best potatoes for potato salad?
There are so many sorts of potatoes out there, how do you know which ones are best for salad?
Well, the easiest answer would be: definitely NOT floury potatoes, this kind of potatoes will fall apart when cooked and the salad will be a mess. Floury potatoes are best when making mashed potatoes or baked potatoes, for instance. You can also use them to make creamy soups, gnocchi or potato dumplings.
Use a waxy sort of potatoes for potato salad. They contain less starch than floury potatoes and will keep their shape best when cooked. Look for red potatoes, new or fingerling potatoes. Waxy potatoes are also suitable for roasting, boiling, gratins or casseroles.
The in-between type or all-purpose potatoes could be used as well when making potato salad. They have a medium starch content and can be used for pretty much anything. These are the sort of potatoes I buy most of the times, I always have some in the cellar.
If I know for sure that I want to make potato salad or mashed potatoes on a certain day, then I might purposely buy the perfect potatoes, either waxy for salad or floury for mash, but otherwise I use these in-between potatoes for most anything.
Names of different types of potatoes:
Starchy potatoes: Idaho, Russet, Maris Piper, King Edward, Desiree or Estima.
In Germany (blue label): Adretta, Gunta, Karat, Aula or Freya.
Waxy potatoes: Red Bliss, Maris Peer Jersey Royals, Bintje, Asterix, Anabelle, Red Thumb, French Fingerling.
In Germany (green label): Anabelle, Kipfel, Charlotte, Agata or the ones I seem to find more often than others, Linda.
In-between or all-purpose potatoes: White and Yukon Golds, Red Gold, Purple Majesty, Norland Red or All Blue.
In Germany (red label): Christa, Finka, Bolero, Gala, Maja or Saskia.
Potato Salad with Eggs, Olives and Gherkins – Romanian Oriental Salad
Like mentioned above, it is best to use waxy potatoes when making this Romanian potato salad with eggs. But if you only have in-between or all-purpose potatoes in the house, don’t let that stop you.
I prefer to use red onion, but white onion is OK as well.
You can either use leftover boiled eggs to make this salad or you can cook some eggs. Give the eggs to a saucepan, cover well with water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 13 minutes. Drain and give to a bowl of iced water. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Peel the eggs. Let them cool down while you prepare the rest.
I like sweet and sour dill and mustard seed gherkins in this potato salad as well (I used them in yesterday’s Creamy Deviled Egg Pasta Salad with Bacon – Eggs Recipes too). You can use them or any other (dill) pickles you happen to like.
I use sunflower oil to make this Potato Salad with Eggs, Olives and Gherkins – Romanian Oriental Salad, it is the kind of oil my grandmother always used and I like it like that. However, you can use another kind of oil as well, either a mild olive oil or a neutral tasting vegetable oil.
The salad can be served as soon as you make it or you can keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. In this case, let the salad come to room temperature and check the seasoning again before serving. The potatoes will absorb most of the dressing and you will want to add a bit more moisture. Add a bit more oil, gherkin water and vinegar and some salt and pepper.
Other delicious potato salads:
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs waxy potatoes
- 1 large red onion
- 4 hard boiled eggs
- 100-150 g/ 3.5 – 5-3 oz sweet-sour gherkins
- 10 black olives
- 10 green olives
- 1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, to taste
- 2 tablespoons gherkin water or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon medium mustard or Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
- salt and pepper
- a small bunch of parsley
Wash the potatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes. Bring to a simmer again and cook for 15-20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a fork. Do not overcook the potatoes. Drain well and let cool slightly.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices. Give them to a bowl. Quarter the onion and slice it thinly. Give the onion to the potatoes. Slice the hard boiled eggs and the gherkins and add them to the salad as well. Give the olives to the salad, you can either leave them whole or slice them.
Whisk together 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, gherkin water and mustard. Slowly add the sunflower oil while whisking all the time until the dressing emulsifies slightly. Add salt and pepper generously. Give the dressing to the potato salad and mix gently until all the ingredients are coated with the dressing.
Taste and add more vinegar or gherkin water and salt to taste. Stir again before serving and adjust the taste again if necessary, you could add one extra tablespoon oil, vinegar, gherkin water and salt and pepper.
Chop the parsley and give it over the salad just before serving.
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