A fresh, savory Nordic spring

Vegetables star in these Nordic recipes from The Scandi Kitchen

This artichoke salad and beetroot tart are from one of our favorite Scandinavian cookbooks, The Scandi Kitchen: Simple, delicious dishes for any occasion by Brontë Aurell of the ScandiKitchen in London. The first book from Aurell, who has since published ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge—Comforting cakes and bakes from Scandinavia with love (featured in our September 9, 2016, issue; “Nordic cookbooks entice and inspire”), The Scandi Kitchen features a broad array of Scandinavian recipes. Tucked between classics are treasures like these that show how fresh, vibrant, and healthful Scandinavian cooking can be.

Artichoke Salad with Spelt Grains
It’s no secret that we love using grains in our salads at ScandiKitchen. Spelt is such a filling, wholesome grain—and it has an excellent bite to it. If you are not a fan of spelt, you can use rye grains instead.

Photo: Peter Cassidy / courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small
There’s perhaps no better time than spring to embrace vegetables and fresh herbs, and these two recipes, reprinted from The Scandi Kitchen by Brontë Aurell ($21.95) with permission from Ryland Peters & Small, illustrate the freshness of spring well.

150 g dried spelt grains
salt & freshly ground black pepper
two 250 g cans of artichoke hearts, drained
1⁄2 bunch spring onions, sliced diagonally
150 g feta cheese, chopped into cubes
2 tbsps. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4-5 tbsps. flaked almonds, toasted
freshly squeezed lemon juice
olive oil, for drizzling

If soaking the grains overnight (I’d recommend this if you have time as it allows for a more even texture throughout), place them in double the amount of water.

The next day, drain and rinse the grains. Place in a large saucepan with a good pinch of salt and boil for approximately 22 to 25 minutes, or until tender but still al dente. If you haven’t pre-soaked the grains, extend the cooking time by around 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool completely.

Slice the artichoke hearts into large bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl and add the sliced spring onions, feta, and parsley.

Fold in the spelt grains, season to taste, and fold in the toasted almond flakes.

Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of good oil.

Serves 2 to 3 as a side salad.

Beetroot Tart with Fennel and Dill
I just love the purple beetroot with the fresh green dill—it brightens up the whole lunch table. The tart works well both warm and cold and it is lighter than traditional quiches as it uses less dairy filling.

Photo: Peter Cassidy / courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small

3-4 fresh beetroot, approx. 300 g raw weight; or one 250 g pack of ready-cooked beetroot
200 ml crème fraîche
100 ml milk
2 eggs
200 g feta cheese, crumbled
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh dill
1 fennel bulb
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
50 g walnuts, lightly crushed

for the pastry:
150 g butter
150 g plain flour
100 g wholegrain rye flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
4 tbsps. cold water

If using fresh beetroot, put them in a large saucepan of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot) until soft. Rinse in cold water. The peel will come off easily when you rub them with your fingers. Set aside.

To make the pastry, cube the butter and crumble it with the flours and salt. This is quickly done in a food processor. Add the egg yolk and water and quickly, without working the dough too much, shape into a ball. Leave to chill in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes before using.

Roll out the dough and carefully place into a fluted loose-based pie tin. Prick the bottom of the case with a fork in several places. Leave to rest for another 15 minutes in the fridge or freezer.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / Gas 4.

Pre-bake the crust in the middle of the preheated oven for around 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the crème fraîche, milk, eggs, crumbled feta, salt, pepper, and half the dill in a bowl.

Cut the fennel lengthways and remove the bottom core. Thinly slice the fennel. In a saucepan, add a little oil and sauté the fennel on a low heat for 5 to 6 minutes. After a few minutes, add a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Remove the crust from the oven. Scatter the sautéed fennel across the base and add one-third of the crème fraîche mixture. Thinly slice the beetroot and arrange the thin slices all across the tart in neat layers. Add the remaining crème fraîche dressing on top and scatter with half of the crushed walnuts.

Return to the middle of the oven for around 20–25 minutes. When done, scatter the remaining dill and walnuts on top. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 7.

This article originally appeared in the May 19, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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