‘Russian Beauty Salad’: Layers of elegance (RECIPE)

This multi-layered salad in the form of a traditional Russian woman’s headdress will add Slavic charm to your festive table.

This multi-layered salad in the form of a traditional Russian woman’s headdress will add Slavic charm to your festive table.

Russia Beyond (Photo: Olga Brovkina; Vasilisa_k/Getty Images)
Have you ever tasted a savory dish that’s not only tasty but also symbolizes femininity? Today we’re going to enjoy the charm of ‘Russian Beauty Salad’.

Legend says that the "Russian Beauty Salad" first graced tables in the early 20th century at the renowned "Moskva" restaurant in the heart of Moscow. Inspired by the rosy cheeks of a exceptionally beautiful woman, the chef added beets to mimic her color, giving the salad its distinctive red hue.

Another story connects this salad with the famous imperial era Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. As the legend goes, Pavlova discovered the delectable dish in a Moscow restaurant and inquired about its name. The answer pleased her ears: "Russian Beauty Salad".

Whatever version is true, it’s clear that the salad — with its radiant red color — evokes associations with beautiful Russian girls and their femininity.

If the first version of the salad mentions beets to make it red, modern cooks can choose the most available red vegetable – tomatoes and sometimes red peppers. When chopped, they also resemble precious rubies, while other veggies add brightly colors of emeralds and diamonds. 

Mayonnaise, which became widely used in Russian cuisine in the 20th century, is responsible for this salad’s delicate flavor. The other ingredients include boiled potatoes, chicken eggs and chicken breasts. Of course, you can experiment with ingredients, adding yours to taste in order to create your own masterpiece. 

We don’t know for sure if the first "Russian Beauty Salad" was made with a round form just like a classical "Russian salad" (aka Olivier), or was served another way. But the contemporary version repeats the shape of the traditional Russian woman’s folk head covering known as "kokoshnik". It’s quite exquisite, so let’s try to recreate it!

Ingredients for 5-7 servings:

  • Boiled potatoes - 5-6 pieces 
  • ham - 300 g 
  • boiled chicken breasts - 300 g 
  • cheese - 200 g 
  • fresh tomatoes - 2-3 pieces
  • fresh cucumbers - 1-2 pieces
  • boiled chicken eggs - 4 pieces 
  • mayonnaise - to taste
  • veggies and greens (a few slices of cucumber, canned corn, parsley) for decoration


1. Boil the potatoes, chicken eggs, and chicken breast a few hours in advance before preparing the salad.

2. Let them cool completely.

3. Peel and grate the boiled potatoes using a coarse grater, forming the first layer.

4. Mold the potatoes into the shape of a traditional Russian headdress — "kokoshnik."

5. Lightly coat the formed "kokoshnik" with mayonnaise.

6. Finely chop the ham and layer it on top of the potatoes, and again lightly spread mayonnaise over the ham.

7. Finely chop the cucumbers and layer them on top of the ham; likewise, lightly spread mayonnaise over the cucumbers.

8. Finely chop the boiled chicken breast and layer it on top of the cucumbers, and you guessed it — lightly spread mayonnaise over the chicken.

9. Grate the cheese using a fine grater and layer it on top of the chicken — and yes, lightly spread mayonnaise over the cheese.

10. Compact the salad, smoothing it with your hands, and once again lightly spread mayonnaise on the last layer of cheese and on the sides of the salad.

11. Separate the boiled eggs into whites and yolks. Grate the whites and sprinkle them along the sides of the salad. Grate the yolks and sprinkle them over the top. Compact the salad once again and for the very last time lightly spread mayonnaise.

12. Move on to the tomatoes. Remove the seeds and liquid, leaving only the tomato walls.

13. Dice them into cubes and layer them on top.

14. Decorate the salad according to your taste. I used a few slices of cucumber, canned corn, parsley and mayonnaise.

Your vibrant and beautiful "Russian Beauty Salad" is ready! Now it’s time to enjoy!

READ MORE: Taste the spirit of spring with the popular Soviet ‘Mimosa’ salad

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