Salad for dinner: Nordic flavors in a refreshing salad
Christy Olsen Field
Let’s talk salad.
When I get Norwegian inspiration in the kitchen, it typically results in baking. Don’t get me wrong, I love any chance to bake a hearty loaf of grøvbrød or make a toscakake for a family gathering. But I like to explore other Norwegian flavor combinations beyond butter and flour, and create a dish that uses seasonal ingredients. Salad is on my mind.
One of my all-time favorite cookbooks is “Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons” by Jeanne Kelley. The salads in this book are so satisfying, with a balance of vegetables, protein, and starch. My favorite element of the book is her ability to take an entrée, such as paella or a bahn mi sandwich, and turn it into salad that takes center stage on the dinner table.
With this in mind, I took one of my favorite Norwegian dishes—salmon with dill and potatoes—and turned it into a main-course salad: herb-roasted salmon, boiled small potatoes, crisp red onion, cucumber, and tomatoes, all on a bed of greens with a zippy lemon-dill vinaigrette.
And what a beautiful salad it is! You will need the oven to roast the salmon using Mark Bittman’s technique, but feel free to substitute grilled salmon if you prefer. This salmon salad comes together quickly for a simple weeknight dinner, and is elegant enough to serve for company on a warm summer evening. Accompanied with a fresh baguette, cheese, and a glass of wine, these are classic Norwegian flavors to enjoy for the remaining weeks of summer.
And when you eat salad for dinner, isn’t there always room for dessert?
Norwegian Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette
1 pound skin-on salmon fillet, pin bones removed
2 tbsps. butter
1 small bunch dill, divided
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 pound small potatoes (I used two-bite red potatoes)
8 oz. mixed salad greens (my personal favorite is Herb Mix)
1 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ tbsps. dill, finely chopped
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. sugar
salt to taste
In a small bowl (or lidded jar), combine olive oil, mustard, dill, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Taste, and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
Preheat oven to 475°F. When the oven is hot, place butter on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place baking sheet in the oven to melt butter, about 1 minute.
Remove baking sheet from oven, and place salmon skin-side down. Season with salt and pepper, arrange a few dill sprigs and sliced lemon on top, and return to oven. Roast for 9–12 minutes until salmon is just cooked through. Stick a paring knife between the layers of flesh; the center should be bright pink and still a little translucent (it will continue to cook a little more off the heat). Perfectly cooked salmon will separate into big, soft flakes and still be vibrant pink in the center. Let cool. Can be served warm or room temperature.
Meanwhile, scrub potatoes, place in a pot of cold water, covering potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to boil, and cook until fork-tender, about 15–20 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl with slotted spoon, and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel skins from the potatoes with your hands (they should slide off easily). Slice in quarters, if desired.
To prepare the salad, combine salad greens, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and potatoes, and toss with salad dressing. Flake salmon into bite-size pieces, and place on top of salad. Serve with bread on the side, if desired.
Christy Olsen Field was on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012, and the Taste of Norway page was her favorite section. Today, she is the Principal of Christy Ink, which offers freelance grantwriting services for small to mid-size nonprofits. Learn more at www.christy.ink.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 21, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.