Start the season with festive holiday appetizers

Welcome your guests, Scandinavian-style!

Rye Toasts make a versatile base for Scandinavian-inspired appetizers, perfect for your holiday entertaining.

KRISTI BISSELL
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American

The season of celebration is upon us, and it is the perfect opportunity to share a little Scandinavian holiday cheer with friends and family with a delicious assortment of open-face rye toasts and maybe a cozy cup of gløgg or even a glass of bubbly champagne to go alongside.

Fortunately, all of the components for these toasts can be prepared at least a day ahead of time. If you don’t have time to make your own Rye Toasts (recipe below), the toasts themselves can be made from store-bought rye bread. Little slices of cocktail rye would even work nicely here!

And if you want to skip the toasting altogether, simply buy a high quality rye crispbread to use as a base. Assemble the toasts shortly before your guests arrive. It’s going to be a memorable evening!

 

ROAST BEEF AND DANISH REMOULADE RYE TOASTS

Makes 12 small toasts

¼ lb. thinly sliced best quality roast beef

A handful or two of baby arugula leaves or other small lettuces

12 Rye Toasts or rye crispbread

Danish Remoulade, recipe below

Store bought crispy fried onions

For the Danish Remoulade:

¼ cup prepared mayonnaise

1 tbsp. skyr or greek yogurt

½ tsp. dijon mustard

2 tsps. capers, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp. finely chopped dill pickles

2 tsps. finely chopped shallot

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

½ tsp. curry powder

1. Prepare the Danish Remoulade: Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir until incorporated. (The remoulade can be made 24 hours ahead of time and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.)

2. Assemble the Rye Toasts: Arrange a few leaves of arugula on each Rye Toast.  Top with roast beef and a dollop of Danish Remoulade. Sprinkle with crispy fried onions. Serve.

 

ROASTED BEET AND GOAT CHEESE RYE TOASTS

Makes 12 small toasts

1 medium or 2 small beets (any color is fine), scrubbed and trimmed

2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
for drizzling on beets

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small shallot, minced

½ tsp. honey

1 tbsp. cider vinegar

12 Rye Toasts or rye crispbread

5 oz. soft goat cheese

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Place beets on a large piece of foil and drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, rub oil onto the surface of the beets. Fold foil over and seal the edges, making a pouch. Place the pouch on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Roast beets for 45-60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Smaller beets will take less time than larger ones.

2. Remove beets from the oven and open the pouch. Let cool before handling. Once the beets are cool enough to work with, rub the skin off with a paper towel. Cut the beets into ½-inch cubes. Set aside. (Beets can be prepared and cut up to 24 hour hours in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.)

3. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the shallot, vinegar, and honey together in a small bowl. Slowly add 2 tbsps. of olive oil and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. (Vinaigrette can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.)

4. Assemble the toasts: Toss the beets with the vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread a layer of goat cheese on each Rye Toast. Top with roasted beets and toasted almonds. Serve.

 

SMOKED SALMON, APPLE FENNEL SALAD AND HORSERADISH CREAM RYE TOASTS

Makes 12 small toasts

1 package (4 oz.) cold-smoked salmon

Apple Fennel Salad

Horesradish Cream

12 Rye Toasts or rye crispbread

Dill sprigs for serving

For the Apple Fennel Salad:

1 granny smith apple, cored and cut
into thin matchsticks

2 tbsps. of finely chopped fresh fennel

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt to taste

For the Horesradish Cream:

¼ cup creme fraiche

1 tbsp. prepared horseradish

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Make the Apple Fennel Salad: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir gently. Season to taste with salt. (Apple Fennel Salad can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.)

2. Make the Horseradish Cream: Combine creme fraiche and horseradish together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Horseradish Cream can be prepared 24 hours in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.)

3. Assemble the toasts: Top each Rye Toast with smoked salmon, a little Apple Fennel Salad and a dollop of Horseradish Cream.  Garnish each toast with a dill sprig and serve.

 

ROASTED SQUASH AND RICOTTA RYE TOASTS

Makes 12 small toasts

1 small butternut squash, peeled and
cut into ½-inch squares

2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

¾ cup ricotta cheese (preferably
whole milk)

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

12 Rye Toasts or rye crispbread

Chopped fresh thyme and crispy fried
onions for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the squash out on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Toss with 1 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the squash is tender and golden brown, 25-35 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. (The squash can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.)

2. Whisk the ricotta cheese, remaining olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The ricotta mixture can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.)

3. To assemble the toasts, place a few cubes of roasted squash on each Rye Toast. Top with a spoonful of ricotta and sprinkle thyme and crispy onions over the top. Serve.

 

RYE TOASTS

Makes 12 small toasts

3 thin slices rye bread

1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut the bread into 4 small squares or triangles and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the bread with butter and season with salt.

2. Bake the toasts until darker brown in color and beginning to crisp up around the edges, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Toasts can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

All photos by Kristi Bissell

This article originally appeared in the December 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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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.

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