Herbs enliven this salmon smørbrød

You can taste spring in this open-faced sandwich that’s a taste treat any time of year

open-faced salmon sandwiches

Photo: Lindsey Rose Johnson
Micro-greens are the perfect topper to this savory hot-smoked salmon sandwich.

Lindsey Rose Johnson
Cafe Johnsonia

My Norwegian ancestors would probably disown me if they knew how much I abhor winter and cold weather in general. I dream of tropical beaches and warm breezes while I suffer through winter. And truth be told, I live in Boise, Idaho. The winters in Boise are not that bad! Alas, I complain and count the days until spring arrives.

Winter months, unless one lives in a more temperate climate, mean a reliance on winter vegetables. Well, that’s not entirely true. Nowadays, we can buy just about any fruit or veggie year round. But if the goal is to eat seasonal produce, then root veggies and cruciferous veggies, onions, and squash appear frequently on the menu.

Don’t get me wrong: I love winter veggies. By the time March rolls around, though, I’m craving tender asparagus, peas, strawberries, and other springtime garden treats.

With the arrival of spring, comes the first garden goodies—fresh herbs, baby greens, and spring onions, to name a few. Years ago I worked for a small farm that operated a Community-supported agriculture (CSA) and that is exactly the items members received during the early spring weeks. I fell in love with micro-greens while I worked there.

Micro-greens are similar to sprouted legumes, except they are grown from sprouted seeds of leafy greens and veggies such as kale, cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli, bok choy, beets, and radishes. The adorable little greens are chock full of vitamins and minerals and add color and flavor to any dish, particularly sandwiches.

Open-faced sandwiches are a Scandinavian favorite. My husband and I first started eating open-faced seafood sandwiches when we were in Norway nearly 15 years ago. We loved the delicious, simple sandwiches topped with tiny melt-in-your-mouth shrimp or smoked salmon.

My version of open-faced salmon sandwiches includes hot smoked salmon atop a thick slice of artisan bread liberally smeared with a homemade herbed cheese spread.

Snøfrisk, a Norwegian fresh cream cheese made with goat and cow milk, is my go-to for the cheese spread. It’s rich, buttery, and creamy. Adding fresh dill and chives, minced shallot, lemon zest, and fresh ground black pepper takes it to the next level.

Because Snøfrisk can be a little tricky to find sometimes, fresh goat cheese (chevre) or Philadelphia-style cream cheese can be substituted.

While I love gravlax, I’ve come to prefer hot-smoked salmon. The deep, woodsy flavor infused during the smoking process is hard to beat. The best hot-smoked salmon I’ve ever had is peach wood smoked. It’s worth seeking out, but be prepared to pay a pretty penny! I’m able to find it at my local Whole Foods, but other stores carry similar salmon. Homemade hot-smoked salmon would also be incredible. Truly, any smoked salmon, hot- or cold-smoked or cured, will work. Smoked trout or herring would also be amazing.

These sandwiches are versatile. They can be cut into small wedges to be served as an appetizer, wrapped up and taken to a picnic, enjoyed with a friend and a glass of white wine or an ice-cold hard cider, or devoured standing at the kitchen counter. Also, they aren’t just for spring!

I’ll be making these open-faced sandwiches all spring and summer long as the snow gives way to blossoms and leaves, the days finally grow longer again, and my garden starts producing an abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers. By the way, I highly recommend topping these sandwiches with sliced of either, or even better, both. This is sure to become a favorite sandwich any way you slice it.

Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches

open-faced salmon sandwiches

Photo: Lindsey Rose Johnson
Shallot, dill, chives, and lemon zest combine (top) to turn Snøfrisk or cream cheese into a delightful spread.

½ cup herbed cream cheese spread

4 large, thick slices rustic artisan bread

8 oz. hot-smoked salmon

½ cup micro-greens or sprouts, for garnish

4 lemon wedges, for serving

Divide the herbed cream cheese spread evenly among the four slices of bread.

Gently flake the salmon into big pieces and arrange evenly over the four slices of bread.

Top with the micro-greens and serve with a slice of lemon. Enjoy immediately, or wrap well and refrigerate for several hours, or up to one day. Serves 4.

Notes: If desired, toast bread first. Gravlax or other preserved fish can be substituted for the salmon. This is a great way to use up leftover cooked salmon as well.

Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

4-5 oz. Norwegian cream cheese (such as Snøfrisk)

2 tbsps. shallot, minced

2 tbsps. fresh dill, finely chopped

2 tbsps. fresh chives, thinly sliced

¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper

zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

salt, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese with the shallots, herbs, pepper, and lemon zest. Taste and add a little salt, if needed.

Store in airtight container until ready to use. Will keep for 1 week. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Note: if Snøfrisk isn’t available, substitute an equal amount of fresh goat’s cheese (chevre) or Philadelphia-style cream cheese.

Lindsey Rose Johnson is the granddaughter of a full-blooded Norwegian raised in the Dakotas. Lindsey, her husband and children, and their two adorable pups live in the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho, where she earns her keep by developing recipes for her clients, photographing the delicious results, and freelancing as a cookbook photographer. More of her recipes can be found at CafeJohnsonia.com.

This article originally appeared in the March 8, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.