Romanian boeuf salad or salata de boeuf, this is probably the most popular Romanian salad, traditionally served for Easter and Christmas.
Boeuf Salad Recipe
Easter is big in Romania, and I mean really BIG! I could almost dare to say that Easter is quite a bigger deal than Christmas there. Or at least that's the way I feel about it, especially since living in Germany, where Easter celebrations go quite unnoticed compared to Christmas.
I will start with this boeuf salad, which is something you will get for both Easter and Christmas in every Romanian family on this planet probably.
Although the name sounds French, the origins of this salad are actually Russian, the Salad Olivier is very similar to the Romanian version. This potato, vegetable and mayonnaise mixture is not only popular in these two countries, but also in all the ex-Soviet countries, many other European countries like Bulgaria or Spain, in several Middle Eastern countries, all throughout Latin America and so on.
I don't usually weigh the ingredients when making salata de boeuf, but I did it this time for the post. You can use more or less of each according to your taste and to the leftovers you happen to have.
The same goes for the mayonnaise, use as much as you like, and leave out the mayonnaise on top if you feel that it is too much.
Chicken or beef:
- I call the salad by its untranslated name Boeuf (French for beef) salad. I don't use the English term “beef” because that would obviously make people think that there is beef in this salad. There isn't any!
- That might have been the original idea, but as far as I'm concerned, I have never eaten this salad made with beef.
- Beef is not very popular in Romania (or at least not in the region where I grew up), we prefer pork or chicken.
- So I ever only ate this salad made with chicken or turkey.
- But you can definitely use boiled beef or leftover roast beef to make the boeuf salad.
Fresh or leftover meat:
- You can make salata de boeuf with either freshly cooked meat or with leftovers.
- I make it with leftover chicken or turkey most of the time, either boiled meat leftover after making soup or stock or leftover roast chicken or turkey.
- Rotisserie chicken is also fine.
- If using fresh chicken cook 1 or 2 chicken breasts or 2 small whole chicken legs in salted water until tender and cooked through. Let cool completely before using it.
- A total of about 250 g/ 8.8 meat should be enough, but a little more or less is fine.
- Use waxy potatoes, they are the best sort to use for salads.
- Hard-boiled eggs, either freshly cooked or leftovers.
- Carrots: traditionally you would use the carrots and the chicken meat leftover after making the stock for the Romanian chicken soup with semolina dumplings - supa de galusti. I don't think my grandmother ever made this salad without making that soup first.
- However, fresh carrots are perfectly fine. Cook them until tender and let cool before using.
- Some people use other vegetables as well, like peas or cooked celeriac and parsley root, leftover from making soup. You can add them if you like. Peas are fine for me as well, but overcooked celeriac or parsley root not so.
- Pickled vegetables: pickled cucumbers (gherkins) and pickled red peppers. More genuine would be pickled pimientos or tomato peppers - gogosari in Romanian. Use them if you have them, if not replace with regular peppers.
- You can use more or less pickled vegetables to taste, I usually tend to add more because I like the sweet-sour flavor.
- You can use either bought or homemade mayonnaise.
- I always make the salad with homemade mayonnaise, because I grew up eating it this way. And making mayonnaise is so easy, it takes about 2 minutes and all you need is an immersion blender.
How to make mayonnaise with an immersion blender?
- Place the egg, mustard, lemon juice, oil, some salt, and pepper into a jug or tall jar.
- Place the immersion blender in the jug and keep it fixed to the bottom. Turn it on and blend the ingredients without moving the blender for 10-15 seconds.
- Very slowly start moving the immersion blender up and down to help emulsify the mayonnaise.
- The whole process should take less than 1 minute and the mayonnaise will be perfect.
- Taste and adjust the taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Make sure that all the vegetables, eggs and meat are completely cool before making the salad.
- You can cook everything in advance and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- Dice the ingredients as regularly as possible.
- If you feel that there is too much mayonnaise, you can use the quantity required to mix with the ingredients and leave out the decorating mayonnaise.
- And don't forget to decorate this salad in a really tacky, Romanian style :). It is just not authentic enough if you don't decorate it as corny as possible.
- The boeuf salad made with bought mayonnaise keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. If using homemade mayonnaise, I try not to keep it for more than 2 days. It should never be too long at room temperature.
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First published: March 16, 2016.
Last updated: March 31, 2020.
Romanian Boeuf Salad
- 9 oz potatoes
- 4 ½ oz carrots
- 9 oz cooked diced chicken, about 2 cups, (Note 1)
- 3 hard-boiled eggs
- ½ cup diced pickled cucumbers /gherkins
- ½ cup diced pickled red peppers
- 1 cup (heaped) mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon mustard more to taste
- fine sea salt and pepper
- black olives
- pickled cucumbers /gherkins
- pickled peppers
- For the mayonnaise optional, (Note 2)
- 1 whole egg
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil no olive oil
- fine sea salt and pepper
- Cook the potatoes, peel them, and let them cool completely.
- Cook the carrots until soft. If using fresh chicken, cook it as well.
- Cook eggs: Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
- Let cool: Everything should be cool before making the salad.
- Dice the potatoes, carrots, chicken, eggs, gherkins, and pickled red peppers. Place in a bowl.
- Add about ¾ of the mayonnaise and the mustard, mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Decorate: Place the boeuf salad on a large plate or platter and smooth with a spatula. Cover nicely with the remaining mayonnaise and decorate with olives, gherkins, and pickled red peppers.
- Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
- Place the egg, mustard, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper into a jug or tall jar.
- Blend: Place the immersion blender in the jug and keep it fixed to the bottom. Turn it on and blend the ingredients without moving the blender for 10-15 seconds.
- Emulsify: Very slowly, start moving the immersion blender up and down to help emulsify the mayonnaise. The whole process should take less than 1 minute, and the mayonnaise will be perfect.
- Taste and adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- You can use leftover chicken from soup, roast or rotisserie chicken. Cooked beef or turkey are great as well.
- You can use bought or homemade mayonnaise.