Tapas Thursdays: Ensaladilla Rusa

My first meal in Spain was less than memorable: Aurora muttered something as she schlepped a large bowl of something in front of us.

“Cat, quick! tell her I’m allergic to seafood! I think that’s tuna and I don’t know how to say it in Spanish!” Emily hissed from across the table.

My jet lagged brain, tired after eight hours and lugging a suitcase halfway across Valladolid, barely got out the word fish while still searching for seafood. My señora stopped right then and there, threw her arms up in exasperation and chided us for not being as open-minded as the Japanese girls who had lived with her before we had arrived.

I tried to simply was what it was called, hoping that would lead to a run-down of the ingredients. It did, alright, and it seemed that my host mother had folded in every. single. thing. she had in her kitchen into the cubed potato and mayonnaise mix.

We used a “break for air and exploring” as an excuse to pick up sandwiches from a bar around the corner as I explained to Emily exactly what we had eaten:

The Spanish version of a kitchen sink, ensaladilla rusa. Literally, Little Russian Salad.


What it is: A cold, cubed potato salad made with mayonnaise, peas, carrots, red peppers and often hardboiled eggs and canned tuna, accompanied with freshly chopped parsley. The dish often comes with picos.

Where it’s from: As far as I can tell, this popular tapa fría is served in just about every region of Spain, though it varies in its ingredients slightly, or even in its presentation – I’ve seen it atop bread in the Basque Country!

Where to find it in Seville: I’m not a big ensaladilla person because it combines the two foods that make me turn green: mayonnaise and canned tuna. Still, if the mayo isn’t too heavily dolloped into the recipe, I can stomach a bit. I recommend both La Alicantina in Plaza de Salvador (Pza. del Salvador, 2, on the northeast corner), who makes their mayo from scratch and was willing to give it to me on the side, just in case. Their tapa has also garnered quite a bit of fame in city polls. Also, La Cigala de Oro near Santa Justa train station had a fresh tapa that’s light on mayonnaise (Jose Laguillo, 23).

Goes great with: Ensaladilla is typically eaten as bar grub or the starter to a meal because it’s cold and scooped directly onto a plate when you order it. I myself need a few big gulps of Cruzcampo to really like it!

Love tapas? Want to see a specific one featured Thursday? Leave me a comment, or post a picture of you eating your favorite tapas to my Facebook page!

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. A little bit of ensaladilla goes a long way. I like a little bit of it, but my stomach kind of turns over whenever the cafeteria worker fills half my plate with the mayonnaise-ladden concoction. Give me a tapa caliente any day!!
    Cassandra recently posted..Teaching English in the Ukraine: LucyMy Profile

  2. Weird but true, my first ever meal in Spain was also the ensaladilla rusa in Madrid. I was REALLY concerned that that was how Spanish food would be……

  3. Sunshine and Siestas says:

    Glad I’m not the only one, Emma! We will for sure be in your neck of the woods over the Puente. Anyway you’ll be around?

  4. Sounds good! Loooove me some Spanish food!!!

  5. That looks delicious, even though it has mayo in it and that’s something we usually try to avoid when traveling. May have to adapt our travel philosophy to give this ensaladilla rusa a try. Thanks for the post!
    Gayla recently posted..From Dutch Treats to German Treats at the WeihnachtsmarktMy Profile

  6. I’ve never really fancied ordering Ensaladilla Rusa. thankfully there are usually more options to choose from!
    Lauren @ roamingtheworld recently posted..In the Recording StudioMy Profile

  7. It’s becoming obvious that we have the same taste, lady!

    I absolutely hate ensalada rusa. It’s the only thing that I just can’t stomach, at ll. My MIL makes it for my husband and I can’t even be in the same room when he opens the “taper” and he has to eat it out of my sight! I can’t stand the taste, the smell, or the texture. Que Asco!
    Nicole recently posted..Unaffected IstanbulMy Profile

  8. I’m with the haters. I loathe ensaladilla rusa! For some reason it always seems like the poorest choice at tapas bars, under-refrigerated and sloppy. But then again, para gustos colores!
    Lauren H. of Sobremesa In Spain recently posted..Soupy Dumplings and Other Delicacies at Din Tai Fung, BangkokMy Profile

  9. The only ensaladilla rusa I like in Sevilla is at Puracepa – http://pinterest.com/pin/156851999493795603/. Chunks of perfectly cooked potatoes with a nice light mayo and chock full of fresh plump whole prawns (no dodgy cubed carrots, tinned tuna or frozen peas), served with a halved hard boiled quail egg on top. Lovely. I finally tried the one at Alicantina because for over 19 years people here in Sevilla have been telling me it’s the best in town but honestly couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. In general I prefer the potato salads here that have an olive oil and vinegar dressing.
    azahar recently posted..Christmas Day FlamencoMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Thanks for the tips, Shawn! I’m always willing to try it, but have found very few I can stomach. Happy New Year!

  10. Ugh. I know this dish. I absolutely despises mayo. Looks congealed and gross, haha!


  1. […] Yes, I picked three of the most commonly used ingredients in Spanish cuisine, and the only big additions to ensaladilla rusa. […]

  2. […] Two beers were ordered for my friend and I, and he quickly ordered a revuelto de gurumelos. I had no idea what a gurumelo was, but since Santiago is Galician, I could only assume it was some kind of fish. He’d ordered to quickly, not even bothering to ask if I liked what he’s shouted across the busy bar to the bartender. I HATE eggs, making reveueltos one of my most disliked foods, along with ensaladilla rusa. […]

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