A modern julebord

Kristi Bissell of Truth North Kitchen offers a festive menu for holiday celebrations

modern julebord

A MODERN FEAST: Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen offers the readers of The Norwegian American recipes for a julebord that is both delicious and nutritious, creating new traditions for your holidays.

True North Kitchen

There is a sense of anticipation and comfort around returning to the same dishes every holiday season. But every now and then it’s good to mix things up and try something new. This simple, elegant menu both honors tradition and brings a fresh and modern approach to the Christmas Julebord. You will find inspiring new dishes to update your holiday table alongside a few updated classic favorites. Mix and match a few (or all!) of these recipes with a handful of beloved family favorites for an unforgettable Christmas meal.

Everything on this menu goes together beautifully. Both the Roasted Salmon with Butter and Brown Sugar and the Vegetarian Meatballs benefit from a spoonful or two of the Lingonberry Sauce and Fresh Pickled Cucumbers. Mashed potatoes are the perfect velvety rich base for the tasty gravy that accompanies the meatballs. The Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pecans brings a fresh burst of green and orange to the plate, and the Green Beans with Dill and Caper Butter are a simple, festive side dish with big flavor. And for dessert, a luscious Lingonberry Skyr Mousse, which somehow manages to be both light and decadent at the same time. 

Christmas Eve is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy each other’s company. For that reason, I intentionally designed this menu with several make-ahead options so that when the guests arrive, most of the work is done. Even those of us who love to cook want to relax and revel in the holiday festivities. This menu allows you to do just that.

Christmas carries with it many expectations. Our loved ones expect to see certain foods on the table each and every year prepared in exactly the same way. Change, when it comes to the holidays, is not always welcome. If that’s the case for you, maybe offering one or two new dishes alongside your tried-and-true favorites is the best way to go. You certainly don’t have to do a whole new menu all at once. Or maybe you are ready for something modern and new, a complete overhaul of your Christmas routine. The choice is yours. Either way, I hope you give one, several, or all of these recipes a try. I wish you the happiest and most delicious of holidays! 

All recipes and photos by Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen.


Up to a week before:

Make Lingonberry Sauce

Up to 2 days before

Make vinaigrette for salad

Make Lingonberry Skyr Mousse

Make Dill Caper Butter

The day before:

Roast vegetables and pecans for the salad

Make vegetarian meatballs

Make Quick Pickled Cucumbers

Wash and chop kale for salad

A couple of hours before:

Make mashed potatoes and hold on 

warm setting in the slow cooker

Just before:

Roast salmon

Toss salad

Reheat Swedish Meatballs

Cook green beans and toss with dill caper butter


Roasted Salmon with Butter and Brown Sugarsalmon


Makes 8-10 servings

1 salmon filet (2-2 ½ lbs.) or individual salmon filets, skin on or off is fine

1 tbsp. packed brown sugar

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsps. unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Heat oven to 450°F. Place salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle sugar over salmon. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with butter.

Bake salmon until it is firm and opaque throughout, about 20 minutes (begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes if using individual filets, as they will take less time). If you chose individual fillets that are skin on, slide a spatula in between the skin and the salmon as you transfer them to a serving platter, leaving the skin behind on the parchment. Serve.

lingonberry sauce

Lingonberry Sauce


2 cups frozen lingonberries (no need to thaw)

½-¾ cup granulated sugar

Stir lingonberries and ½ cup of sugar together. Let sit at room temperature until berries thaw and sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally (about 2 hours). Add more sugar (1 tbsp. at a time) to taste. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Quick Pickled Swedish Cucumbers


1 large cucumber (preferably an English cucumber), sliced thinpickled cucumbers2 tbsps. chopped fresh dill
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. fine salt

Place sliced cucumbers and dill in a quart-size mason jar.
Heat remaining ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
Pour vinegar mixture into the jar with the cucumbers and dill. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using. If you are not eating them immediately, cover and refrigerate the cucumbers once the mixture has cooled to room temperature. The cucumbers are best fresh but will keep in the fridge for up to a week.


Really Good Vegetarian Swedish Meatballsveggie meatballs

Makes 45 meatballs


For the Meatballs:

1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

8 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. fine salt

½ tsp. packed brown sugar

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground allspice

1/8 tsp. ground pepper

2 tbsps. canola oil

1 onion, chopped fine

½ cup dry white wine

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp. soy sauce

To Serve:

Stirred Lingonberries or store-bought lingonberry preserves

Fresh Pickled Cucumbers

Make the Meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the lentils, bay leaf, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until lentils are starting to become tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the lentils, remove the bay leaf and set aside.

Transfer mushrooms to the workbowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add lentils, oats, parsley, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice, and pepper. Process until mixture is very finely chopped, about 7 or 8 pulses.

veggie meatballs

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add lentil and mushroom mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to dry out and it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and soy sauce and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Set aside until it is just warm to the touch.

Add eggs. Mix until fully combined.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon measure, transfer spoonfuls of the mixture to the prepared sheet pans. With damp hands, roll into balls.

Transfer the sheet pans to the oven and bake until the meatballs are browned and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the pans halfway through. Set meatballs aside.

Make the Gravy: Melt butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for one minute. Add broth and soy sauce, whisking constantly. Simmer until reduced slightly. Add cream and nutmeg and return to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add meatballs to gravy and simmer briefly to reheat. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives if desired. Serve.


Green Beans with Dill Caper Buttergreenbeans


Makes 1 pound of green beans

4 tbsps. unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tbsp. small capers stored in brine, rinsed, drained, and chopped

1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving

1 lb. green beans (preferably haricot verts)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the Dill Caper Butter: Mix the butter, capers, and 1 tbsp. of dill in a bowl until combined. Set aside or store in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze in a wrapped cylinder shape for up to 3 months (bring to room temperature before using).

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and season with salt. Add the green beans and cook until tender, anywhere from 3-8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Add the butter to the green beans and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a little chopped fresh dill for garnish. Serve immediately.



Lingonberry Skyr Mousseskyr mousse


Makes 6-8 servings

½ cup cold water

1 packet unflavored powdered gelatin

¾ cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1½ cups frozen lingonberries, plus additional berries for serving

½ tsp. vanilla

1 cup full-fat skyr or Greek yogurt

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place water in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let sit for 3 minutes. Add sugar and salt. Heat mixture over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add lingonberries and remove from heat. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.

Whisk lingonberry mixture with vanilla and skyr in a medium bowl until fully combined. Set aside. Whip cream to medium peaks in a mixer. Gently whisk cream into lingonberry mixture until fully combined.

Pour mousse into individual serving cups and chill at least two hours. Serve, garnished with lingonberries.


Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pecanskale salad

For the Salad:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 red onion, cut into ¼-inch thick slices

2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil

10-12 whole sage leaves

1 large bunch kale (curly or Tuscan is fine), stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

For the Vinaigrette:

1 small shallot, minced

2 tbsps. white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. honey

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place squash and red onion on baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, stir and add sage leaves. Continue to roast until vegetables are tender and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes more. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer kale to a serving platter. Drizzle half the vinaigrette over the kale and massage it into the kale with your hands. Add roasted vegetables and pecans. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and gently toss to combine. Crumble the crispy sage leaves over the top. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 3, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog, www.true-north-kitchen.com.