Delicious Romanian Potato Salad, Also Known as ‘Salata Orientala’, Served in a Bowl With Garnish, Perfect as a Thumbnail Image.

How to Make Romanian Potato Salad (Salata orientala)

Romania, a country known for its rich culinary traditions, offers a plethora of dishes that are not only delicious but also deeply rooted in its history. One such dish that stands out is the Romanian potato salad, also known as the Oriental Salad. This dish, with its unique blend of ingredients and flavors, is a testament to Romania’s diverse culinary influences and its people’s love for hearty, nutritious meals.


Key Takeaways

  1. Rich Culinary Heritage: The Romanian potato salad, known as the Oriental Salad, is a reflection of Romania’s deep-rooted culinary traditions. This dish, with its blend of ingredients, showcases the country’s diverse culinary influences and love for nutritious meals.
  2. Flavor and Customization: The salad is a harmonious mix of potatoes, eggs, olives, and red onions, combined with a flavorful dressing. While the classic recipe is cherished, there’s ample room for personalization, with options to add pickles, carrots, or fresh herbs.
  3. Health and Nutrition: Beyond its delightful taste, the Romanian potato salad is nutritionally rich. It’s packed with vitamin C from potatoes, healthy fats from olives, and proteins from eggs. This balance ensures a low-calorie dish that doesn’t skimp on essential nutrients.
  4. Preparation and Serving: The article provides a detailed guide on preparing the salad, from choosing the right potatoes to the importance of seasoning. While the salad can be served immediately, chilling it enhances the flavors, making it a perfect dish for various occasions.

A Glimpse into the Flavor Profile

Romanian potato salad is not your ordinary potato salad. It’s a delightful mix of potatoes, eggs, olives, and red onions, all brought together with a simple yet flavorful dressing. The potatoes provide a soft, starchy base, the eggs add richness, the olives bring in a touch of brininess, and the red onions offer a sharp contrast. This combination ensures that every bite is a burst of different textures and flavors, making it a favorite among many.

For those who wish to experiment and add their own twist, there’s room for customization. Some variations include adding pickles, carrots, or fresh herbs, each adding a distinct flavor and crunch to the salad.

Health Benefits: More Than Just a Tasty Dish

Beyond its delicious taste, the Romanian potato salad is a powerhouse of nutrients. Potatoes, a primary ingredient, are known for being high in vitamin C, which is essential for skin health and boosting the immune system. Additionally, the inclusion of olives and olive oil ensures a dose of healthy fats and antioxidants. According to The Romanian Cookbook, this salad is a low-calorie dish that doesn’t compromise on nutritional value. The presence of eggs not only adds protein but also essential vitamins and minerals, making it a balanced dish suitable for various dietary needs.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Potatoes: 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pink potatoes. These are the best for salads as they maintain their shape upon boiling.
  • Onion: 1 onion.
  • Eggs: 5 eggs. Adjust the number based on your preference.
  • Olives: 150 grams (5 ounces). A mix of red, green, and black olives is recommended.
  • Dill: 1 link of fresh dill. Can be replaced with parsley or dried versions.
  • Green Onions (Optional): 2 links.

For the Dressing:

Romanian Potato Salad Dressing Ingredients.
  • Water: 100 ml.
  • Vinegar: 2.5 tbsp. Regular vinegar is used here, but you can choose your preference.
  • Salt: 1 tsp.
  • Sugar: 1 tsp. Can be replaced with honey.
  • Sunflower Oil: 4 tbsp. Olive oil is a recommended alternative.
  • Mustard: 2 tsp.
  • Pepper: ½ tsp.

How to Make Romanian Potato Salad

1. Boiling the Potatoes

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.

Place the potatoes in a pot and boil them in their skin for 35 minutes from the first boiling bubble. For salads, it’s essential to boil potatoes in their skin to maintain their shape and texture.

2. Boiling the Eggs

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.

In a separate pot, boil the eggs for about 10 minutes. This ensures you get perfectly hard-boiled eggs for your salad.

3. Preparing the Dressing

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.

In a jar, combine all the dressing ingredients: water, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, and mustard. Give it a good mix and shake thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well combined.

4. Peeling and Chopping

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.

After the potatoes have cooled down, peel them. Dice the potatoes into cubes. Also, chop the onion, dill, green onions, and the eggs.

5. Assembling the Salad

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced potatoes, chopped onions, dill, eggs, olives, and green onions. Pour over the prepared dressing and mix gently. It’s essential to mix with care to avoid crushing the potatoes.

6. Serving the Salad

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.

While you can serve the salad immediately, it tastes even better when chilled in the fridge for a few hours. This allows all the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more flavorful and refreshing salad.

Dressing Ideas to Elevate the Salad

While the traditional dressing for the Romanian potato salad is a simple mix of olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, there’s always room for experimentation. For those looking to add a tangy kick, a vinaigrette made with mustard, oil, vinegar, a hint of sugar, salt, and pepper is a great choice. This dressing idea, as suggested by The Bossy Kitchen, complements the ingredients of the salad and enhances its overall flavor profile.

Delving Deeper: The Intricacies of Romanian Potato Salad

The beauty of traditional dishes lies not just in their flavors but also in the stories they carry and the memories they evoke. The Romanian potato salad, with its rich history and myriad variations, is a testament to the country’s vibrant culinary landscape.

The Art of Balance in Ingredients

While the base ingredients of the Romanian potato salad remain consistent, the proportions can make a significant difference in taste and texture. For instance, the balance between potatoes and eggs can vary based on personal preference. Some prefer a more potato-heavy salad, while others enjoy the richness that a generous amount of eggs brings. The inclusion of olives and red onions, as highlighted by Punchfork, adds a burst of flavor and color, making the salad not just delicious but also visually appealing.

A Symphony of Flavors

The dressing, often a simple mix of olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, binds the ingredients together. However, for those looking to elevate their salad, a vinaigrette made with mustard, oil, vinegar, a hint of sugar, salt, and pepper, as suggested by BBC Good Food, can add an extra layer of complexity to the flavor profile.

Romanian Potato Salad Across Regions

Romania, with its diverse regions, has seen the potato salad evolve in various ways. In some parts, you might find the addition of fresh herbs like dill or parsley, while in others, pickled cucumbers might make an appearance.

A Dish Steeped in Tradition and Memories

For many Romanians, the potato salad is not just a dish; it’s a trip down memory lane. It evokes memories of family gatherings, festive celebrations, and lazy summer afternoons.

A Staple in Festive Feasts

Be it Christmas, Easter, or weddings, the Romanian potato salad often finds its place on the festive table. Its ability to be prepared in advance and served cold makes it a convenient choice for large gatherings.

Memories of Grandmother’s Kitchen

Many Romanians fondly recall watching their grandmothers meticulously prepare the potato salad, ensuring each ingredient was perfectly balanced. The salad, often accompanied by stories of the past, became more than just food; it became a medium to connect with one’s roots.

Perfecting the Romanian Potato Salad: Tips and Tricks

Like any dish, the Romanian potato salad has its nuances, and mastering them can elevate the dish from good to great. Here are some expert tips to ensure your salad is always a hit:

Choosing the Right Potatoes

The choice of potato can make a significant difference in the texture of the salad. Opt for waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or Red Bliss. These hold their shape well after boiling and provide a creamy texture, as suggested by SparkPeople.

The Importance of Seasoning

While the dressing binds the ingredients together, seasoning the potatoes while they’re still warm ensures they absorb the flavors better. A sprinkle of salt and pepper immediately after boiling can work wonders.

Freshness is Key

Using fresh ingredients, especially when it comes to herbs and vegetables, can elevate the taste of the salad. Fresh dill or parsley, as highlighted by Food.com, can add a burst of flavor and color to the dish.

Pairings and Serving Suggestions

The versatility of the Romanian potato salad means it pairs well with a variety of dishes:

  • Grilled Meats: The creamy texture and tangy flavors of the salad complement grilled meats, such as barbecue chicken or grilled steak.
  • Traditional Romanian Dishes: Pair it with traditional Romanian dishes like mămăligă (cornmeal porridge) or sarmale (cabbage rolls) for an authentic Romanian feast.
  • As a Standalone Dish: Given its hearty nature, the Romanian potato salad can be enjoyed on its own, perhaps with a side of crusty bread.
  • Fish, Chicken Breast, and Chicken Liver: The salad’s flavors and textures make it an excellent accompaniment to fish dishes, chicken breast, and even chicken liver, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Romanian Potato Salad: A Global Affair

While the Romanian potato salad has its roots in Romania, its popularity has spread far and wide. Many cultures have embraced the dish, adding their own twists and interpretations:

Fusion Variants

From adding ingredients like avocado in the West to spicing it up with chili in the East, the Romanian potato salad has seen numerous fusion variants, each delicious in its own right.

A Testament to its Universal Appeal

The widespread love for this salad is a testament to its universal appeal. Its perfect balance of flavors, textures, and nutrients makes it a favorite across borders.


In conclusion, the Romanian potato salad, with its rich history, diverse variations, and universal appeal, is more than just a dish. It’s a celebration of Romanian culture, a testament to the country’s culinary prowess, and a beloved favorite for many around the world. Whether you’re trying it for the first time or have grown up eating it, the Romanian potato salad is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Salata Orientala?

Salata Orientala translates to “oriental salad” in Romanian, but it’s essentially the Romanian potato salad, a beloved dish with unique flavors.

2. What are the main ingredients in Salata Orientala?

The primary ingredients include potatoes, onions, olives, and boiled eggs. The dressing is typically made with olive oil and vinegar.

3. How is the Romanian potato salad different from other potato salads?

This salad is a balance of savory and sour, with pickles adding a tangy flavor. Some variations use mayo, but the traditional dressing is oil and vinegar.

4. Can I add other ingredients to the salad?

Yes, while the base ingredients remain consistent, you can enhance the salad with ingredients like pickled peppers, pickled cucumbers and boiled carrots, though these might alter the traditional flavor.

5. What type of potatoes are best for this salad?

It’s recommended to use potatoes that maintain their shape upon boiling, such as Charlotte, Jersey Royals, or red potatoes.

6. How should the potatoes be boiled for the salad?

Potatoes should be boiled in their skins for 30-40 minutes until they are cooked but not mushy. Overboiling can lead to a mushy texture.

7. What’s the recommended dressing for Salata Orientala?

A simple dressing made with sunflower oil, vinegar, water, salt, and pepper is traditionally used. However, variations with mustard or other types of vinegar can also be explored.

8. How long should the salad be refrigerated before serving?

It’s advised to chill the salad in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This helps the ingredients soak up the dressing and melds the flavors together.

9. How long does the Romanian potato salad last in the fridge?

When stored correctly in an airtight container, the salad can last up to five days.

10. Are there any specific pickles recommended for the salad?

Good quality pickles without added sugar are recommended.

Two Bowls of Romanian Potato Salad (Salată Orientală), One in a Transparent Bowl and the Other in a White Bowl.

Romanian Potato Salad (Salata orientala)

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Romanian Potato Salad (Salată Orientală) is a culinary gem from the heart of Romania. This delightful dish combines hearty potatoes with a medley of fresh ingredients, creating a symphony of flavors and textures. Despite its exotic name, this salad is deeply rooted in Romanian tradition, offering a taste of the country's rich culinary heritage in every bite. Perfect for gatherings or a simple family meal, dive into a plate of nostalgia and authenticity with this classic recipe.

Ingredients

  • Potatoes: 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pink potatoes. These are the best for salads as they maintain their shape upon boiling.
  • Onion: 1 onion.
  • Eggs: 5 eggs. Adjust the number based on your preference.
  • Olives: 150 grams (5 ounces). A mix of red, green, and black olives is recommended.
  • Dill: 1 link of fresh dill. Can be replaced with parsley or dried versions.
  • Green Onions (Optional): 2 links.

For the Dressing

  • Water: 100 ml.
  • Vinegar: 2.5 tbsp. Regular vinegar is used here, but you can choose your preference.
  • Salt: 1 tsp.
  • Sugar: 1 tsp. Can be replaced with honey.
  • Sunflower Oil: 4 tbsp. Olive oil is a recommended alternative.
  • Mustard: 2 tsp.
  • Pepper: ½ tsp.

Instructions

1. Boiling the Potatoes

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.Place the potatoes in a pot and boil them in their skin for 35 minutes from the first boiling bubble. For salads, it’s essential to boil potatoes in their skin to maintain their shape and texture.

2. Boiling the Eggs

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.In a separate pot, boil the eggs for about 10 minutes. This ensures you get perfectly hard-boiled eggs for your salad.

3. Preparing the Dressing

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.In a jar, combine all the dressing ingredients: water, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, and mustard. Give it a good mix and shake thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well combined.

4. Peeling and Chopping

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.After the potatoes have cooled down, peel them. Dice the potatoes into cubes. Also, chop the onions, dill, green onions, and any other ingredients that need chopping.

5. Assembling the Salad

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced potatoes, chopped onions, dill, eggs, olives, and green onions. Pour over the prepared dressing and mix gently. It’s essential to mix with care to avoid crushing the potatoes.

6. Serving the Salad

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Potato Salad.While you can serve the salad immediately, it tastes even better when chilled in the fridge for a few hours. This allows all the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more flavorful and refreshing salad.

Notes

  1. Origin and Popularity: Despite its name, the Oriental Salad is not from any oriental region. It's a unique Romanian dish, popular nationwide, similar in popularity to other Romanian staples like mici, sarmale, or zacusca.
  2. Variations: There are different variations of this salad. Some people add pickled peppers or cucumbers, and some even include peas. However, the main ingredients remain consistent: potatoes, boiled eggs, onions, and vinegar.
  3. Potato Type: Pink potatoes are the best for this salad as they maintain their shape upon boiling.
  4. Dressing: The dressing is made with water, vinegar, salt, sugar, sunflower oil (or olive oil as a better alternative), mustard, and pepper. The sugar in the dressing can be replaced with honey.
  5. Boiling Technique: For salads, it's crucial to boil potatoes in their skin. This technique is different from when making mashed potatoes or puree-based meals.
  6. Serving Suggestion: While the salad can be served immediately after preparation, it's more flavorful if allowed to rest in the fridge for a few hours. This resting period lets the flavors meld together.
  7. Pairing: The Oriental Salad pairs well with fish, chicken, or liver.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 216.7g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 17.8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17.8gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 657mgCarbohydrates: 32.2gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 8.6g

The nutritional information provided is approximate and for reference purposes only. Actual values may vary due to factors such as product brands, preparation methods, and ingredient substitutions. The provided values may not include all nutrients and should not be relied upon as the sole source of nutritional information. Always read product labels and consider individual factors when making dietary choices. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies or adverse effects resulting from the use of this information.

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Author

  • Diana

    Hey! I’m Diana. a 30-year-old culinary enthusiast with a passion for creating mouthwatering dishes that tantalize your taste buds. With over 15 years of cooking experience under my apron, I’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen honing my skills, experimenting with flavors, and discovering the most delectable recipes.

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