How to Make the Best Festive Appetizer: Beef Salad

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A Romanian Salad, French in Name and Historically Having Almost Nothing to do With What’s in the Title!

beef salad

If it sounds a tad confusing, here’s the disambiguation:

Romanians like many things but absolutely LOVE food; therefore, they create dishes that everybody loves to try and often become traditional foods for holidays. Beef salad is an appetizer that is always present on the Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Easter festive table!

The story of Boeuf Salad, as we call it, has been originally a simple “game in mayo” dish about two hundred years ago. In time, the pheasant was replaced with beef and the French name (Boeuf) stack for unclear reasons.

It might have to do with French being largely spoken among Bucharest’s high society in the twentieth century’s interbellum period. In that era, Bucharest, the capital city, was frequently called Little Paris.

Today, beef salad has any meat in it and I usually prepare it with chicken.

Now, because Romanians are also incredibly superstitious, there is a strong argument against eating chicken on the first day of the year. Unless you want to be going backwards the entire year, sort of like chickens scratching the ground and thus creating the back-walking illusion!

No, we don’t want that! This is why we eat fish on January 1st. So that we are slick and quick in our endeavours like a fish in the water!

If the argument is not strong enough, you can still use chicken in your Boeuf, but after the year we’ve had, are you really willing to take the risk?

Boeuf salad is mainly an appetizer made with boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots, celeriac, peas, parsley) mixed with pickles (gherkins, bell-peppers) and a dollop of mayonnaise.

The best part of making this salad is that anyone can release their inner artist and go crazy with decorations. I like to use halved olives, boiled egg whites, finely cut pickles but the list does not stop here. Be creative; it’s fun!

What is important is that a large plateau of this appetizer is always present on each Romanian festive table and every New Year’s Eve dinner starts with it.

In any other year, Romanians would go crazy partying until the sun would come up on January first. The restaurants, hotels, boarding houses and any other place that can hold festive parties would be fully booked since August.

In the crazy year of 2020, for the first time in our recent history, this will not happen. It sounds surreal and completely alien. But it does not mean that we won’t set the table in the evening, imagine we’re at a monster New Year’s Eve party, the music is blasting in the speakers and the fireworks will go any minute above our house!

We better make it be the last time as well! Nobody will forget 2020, but we should learn something from it and never allow a repeat!

Happy New Year everyone!

beef salad

Beef Salad

5 from 20 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Romanian
Servings 10


  • 6-7 large potatoes
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 celeriac
  • 2-3 parsnips
  • 300 g peas
  • 500 g diced beef
  • 1 jar mayonnaise (small, about 250 g)
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1 jar pickled gherkins
  • 1 jar pickled bell-peppers
  • 15-20 pitted olives
  • 1-2 eggs
  • sea salt
  • pepper


  • In a huge pan, boil the meat first, changing the water at least once.
  • Add the peeled carrots, celeriac (quartered), parsnips and potatoes and boil until ready. Check with a fork that everything is thoroughly cooked.
  • On a large chopping board, chop all the vegetables and mix in a large bowl (or a large pan.)
    chopped vegetables
  • For food safety, use a different chopping board to chop the meat. Place the beef into the mixing bowl with the vegetables.
  • Drain the pickles, save a few for decorating and finely chop the rest. Squeeze out the excess liquid before adding them to the mixing bowl.
  • Finely cut long pieces of pickles and place them on a piece of absorbent paper. Leave aside until you get to the decorating part.
  • Boil the eggs for at least 6 minutes, peel and remove the yolks. You will only need the whites, finely cut, to decorate the salad.
    pickles on absorbent paper
  • Cut the olives in halves or rings and leave aside with the pickles.
  • Empty half of the mayo jar onto the chopped vegetables, add mustard, salt and pepper and mix with a large wooden spoon, without crushing it too much.
  • Place the mix on a large plateau and use a knife to give it a nice, regular shape.
  • Use the rest of the mayo to cover the salad, top and side.
  • Decorate with the finely chopped pickles, egg whites, olives.
  • Refrigerate before use.


All the ingredients I use are organic. Beyond my refusal to eat pesticides, I want to feel the real taste of food, something to remind me of my childhood.
If you use frozen peas, boil them separately for 2-3 minutes and mix them with the rest of the vegetables.
You can mix the boiled egg yolks with the vegetables before adding the mayo.
Bon appetite!
Keyword Beef Salad

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29 Responses

  1. Katie Youngs says:

    5 stars
    This sounds so delicious!

  2. Lilly says:

    5 stars
    So delicious!!

  3. Addie says:

    5 stars
    Such a unique and delicious recipe!

  4. Chef Dennis says:

    5 stars
    Hmm yum! This is making my taste buds go crazy!

  5. Brianna says:

    5 stars
    My neighbor is Romanian and I can’t wait to make this for her!

  6. Jamie says:

    5 stars
    This looks so delicious and flavorful!

  7. serena says:

    5 stars
    My hubby is such a meat lover. He loves this!

  8. Audrey says:

    5 stars
    I’m very excited to try this

  9. Tyanne Johnson says:

    5 stars
    Tastes as good as the picture looks!

  10. 5 stars
    I am not a beef fan, but I’d love to try it with chicken. Also, I’d love to see if I could make the presentation just as interesting 😀 😀

  11. brit says:

    yummy!!!! thank you for sharing. This recipe seems easy and delcious.

  12. Karletta says:

    5 stars
    My husband loves all things meat, pickles and mayo … I’m thinking I could make this a surprise for him – it would be the best gift for him.

  13. Jeannie says:

    5 stars
    absolutely looking beautiful and thank you for sharing the history about it. Its nice how every country is unique in what they eat on the new year. For us having round fruits and noodles are a must. I want to try with mushroom

  14. I have never heard of this before. It sounds really good and this is something my family would like to try. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Emily Flint says:

    5 stars
    Wow, what a presentation and flavor combo! Sounds amazing!

  16. Sue says:

    5 stars
    This looks yummy but what I really love is the discussion on chicken vs beef vs fish – LOL,Awesome stuff.

  17. Lottie says:

    5 stars
    Amazing! You did a great job telling us the history of the dish.

  18. 5 stars
    What an interesting recipe. It reminds me of the molded salads from the 50’s that were popular in the U.S. Such a beautiful presentation!

  19. 5 stars
    I have never heard of this dish before, but I’m so excited to try it! I love all of the ingredients, and you know I love experimenting with cuisines from around the world. Thanks for sharing this Romanian meal!

  20. Misty says:

    5 stars
    Definitely will be adding this into the rotation! This is my kind of recipe…use what you have and it’ll still be delicious!

  21. Christi says:

    Oh wow! This looks delicious and so pretty! I can’t wait to make this! Thank you for sharing!

  22. Gabriela says:

    5 stars
    Such a spectacular plate. I have to veganize this soon. And it is just in time for the holidays.

  23. Sarah Tucker says:

    Okaayyyy, the title gonna threw me for a second but this LOOKS DELICIOUS!!!! Totally trying this.

  24. Kira says:

    wow! this post is AMAZING. i’d like to try it some day 🙂 thanks for sharing!!

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