This salad has a story behind it.

It came from a Mexican restaurant that used to exist in Zaporozhia, Ukraine, where I lived last year. The Ukrainian told me that the name of the restaurant was ‘Potato House’ and I burst out laughing: “Mexicans don’t eat potatoes!” At least, when I think of Mexican food, potatoes are not the first thing that comes to mind. 😀 I think it was sort of a Ukrainized Mexican restaurant, kind of like how most Mexican food here is Americanized. So while this salad is from a Mexican restaurant and called “Bandito Salad”, it’s about as Ukrainian as Ukrainian can be. And, not to be confused with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich’s boat called Bandido.

It sounds like the most bizarre, weird combination of foods ever. Chicken, tons of mayo, and…. oranges? But I promise you, it’s extraordinary. I was delightfully surprised the first time I tried this salad, and went back for seconds. And thirds. Ukrainian salads aren’t like American salads; they’re kind of more like our potato or chicken salads, i.e. slathered in mayonnaise. (Aw, yiss!)

I was so impressed with this salad that I decided to make it for my hosts in England while I was travelling. And they loved it. And I made it again for the friends I visited in Madrid, and they loved it. My friend I stayed with made the salad for his French grandparents, and they loved it. Most recently I made it for an American friend, and he gave it his seal of approval, too. So I’m pretty confident that this salad crosses all cultural boundaries. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that this salad could be the answer to world peace.

It takes a little bit of work for preparation, so it’s not an everyday dish; it’s the kind of dish you can bring to a potluck or make for guests. It’s really fun to weird people out and make them super apprehensive about trying it and then watching their minds be blown when they do. 😀

I changed the recipe just a little. (At this point, is that even worth mentioning? Just know that I always have a tendency to tweak recipes a little. Always. Ha!) The amounts can be changed too, depending on what you like. These are just ballpark figures.

World-Famous Ukrainian Bandito Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound chicken breast (chicken thighs will work too)
  2. 1 orange (swap for slices of carrot if on sugar detox)
  3. 1 cup homemade mayo
  4. 1 cup Korean carrot salad
  5. 1 cup grated cheese (omit if dairy-free)
  6. 5 eggs, boiled
  7. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Salt and pepper and bake chicken in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly and dice into 1.5 cm pieces.
  2. Grate eggs.
  3. Layer into a serving bowl (glass is always pretty): start with chicken, then cheese, and carefully spread half the mayo over the cheese.
  4. Layer the Korean carrot, eggs, and the other half of the mayo. Put the salad in the fridge for 20 minutes to allow it to 'settle' a little bit. Layer the top with thin slices of orange and serve!
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