Haitian Salade Russe à la Tchakayiti
Good Friday is knocking at our door. And I cannot wait for the traditional Haitian meal we prepare on that day. I have always anticipated that particular Friday. Growing up, to me, that day implied a tasty feast that could leave one in a coma.
I never quite understood why that meal was so elaborate. But I never complained. Neither am I about to. My palate is always delighted to be at that family table on that particular day. It’s as if, every single item on the menu, is carefully seasoned and prepared. I, for the most part, enjoy every bit of this exceptional menu. It includes our famous poisson gros sel and my dad’s must have fried (not refried, remember that) beans. Alongside those tasty dishes is the salade russe pictured above. It’s a mixture of potatoes, carrots and beets which are smothered in mayo. We sometimes add green peas, corn, onions and capers to the mix.
That salade russe is one Good Friday must-have that I could never accept.
To this day, I could still live without it. But, as it is both a family and a Haitian tradition, I have taken it upon myself to prepare it for you just in time for that day. If you’re a fan of that salad, you must be wondering how I could possibly dislike it. You’re probably asking yourself this one question as well:
A deconstructed salade russe? Didn’t she just say that all the ingredients are supposed to be smothered in mayo?
Well, yes. But not at my table. Blame it on the one vegetable that stains everything it comes in contact with. I am of course referring to the infamous beet or as I grew up calling it “pipi rouge” vegetable. This translates to “red pee” in English. This appellation right there is the sole reason why I was never fond of this salad. Rumor has it that, as a child, I once had my organs turn red. You can imagine the rest. I don’t think it is necessary for me to paint a complete picture. If you think about what those words mean and how beets stain everything, you got a pretty good picture of what I am referring to.
This traumatic experience was made worse when my dad would not stop referring to beets by that name. Those words remained engraved in my memory forever, even though I have no recollection of the actual incident. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that my aunt explained how that name came to be. Had my dad not perpetuated it, I probably would be serving you a proper salade russe today.
But fear not, should you not have any issue with this vegetable staining the remaining ingredients, you will be able to create a proper salade russe with the instructions below. All you’ll have to do is mix the vegetables with the dressing. As for me, I will keep picking out the beets from my salad before eating it. I probably will also be serving a deconstructed salade russe for many years to come. Even though, I am working on getting my taste buds used to this vegetable, I simply cannot get over the fact that it does stain everything, including our organs.
Deconstructed salade russe à la Tchakayiti
This is my own take on the traditional salade russe. Instead of simply adding mayo, I created my own sauce which I have chosen to serve separately instead of incorporating it with the vegetables. I also roasted the vegetables instead of boiling them.
For the traditional salade russe, feel free to combine all ingredients including the sauce before serving.
- Corn optional
- Peas optional
- Diced onion optional
- Olive Oil
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp mayo
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1 lime juice
- 1 mashed garlic head
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
Wash the beets, potatoes and carrots
Toss them with olive oil and salt
Wrap in foil
Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or until fully cooked
Peel the vegetables and dice them
Combine them in a bowl with the corn, peas, onions and capers, if you chose to include them
For the sauce
Mix all the ingredients
Adjust the seasoning to taste
Serve in a bowl alongside the vegetables or mix them with the vegetables before serving for the traditional salade russe
Serve your salad cold or at room temperature
You can boil the vegetables if you wish to shorten the prep time.