Friday, 21 November 2014

How to have a Scandi-style Christmas

While we all look forward to the festivities, the thought of impending overindulgence can seem daunting – especially if you’ve been working hard to eat healthily. But we just may have happened upon the perfect alternative Christmas dinner at a recent event with Scandinavian chef and author Signe Johansen, who indulged us in Christmas the Scandi way.
At the heart of the menu was minimal fuss and prep, just laid-back entertaining and great food. And with the Christmas lunch usually being a source of stress, we were all ears…

The alternative Christmas feast championed Norwegian salmon, kicking off with a starter of smoked salmon on sourdough, with cucumber, crème frâiche, dill and avocado. A whole roasted salmon with a kale and squash salad followed. Better yet, we were about to learn how to cook it the authentic Scandinavian way.
Try the recipes for yourself and let us know if you’ll be cheering skål this Christmas.

Smoked salmon on sourdough with crème frâiche, dill and avocado

This a classic Norwegian smørbrød, meaning ‘buttered bread’ or open sandwich. We used Norwegian smoked salmon, which is very lightly smoked, and not as salty as other smoked salmon I’ve tasted. My sandwich (traditionally eaten with a knife and fork) was ready in just a few minutes, and devoured in even less than that.
Serves 4
4 slices of toasted sourdough or rye bread
2 avocados, peeled, stone removed and sliced
8 slices (around 240g) Norwegian smoked salmon
Juice and zest 1 unwaxed lemon
4tbsp reduced-fat crème frâiche
1 small bunch dill, finely chopped
¼ cucumber, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler

1. Top each slice of bread with avocado slices. Fold 2 slices of smoked salmon on top of each, then squeeze over some lemon juice.

2. Add a dollop of crème fraîche to each, then sprinkle over the dill and lemon zest. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately with the cucumber slices.

Per serving:
341kcal, 20.4g protein, 19.4g fat, 5.1g saturates, 20.6g carbs, 1.9g sugar, 5.4g fibre, 3.2g salt, 124mg calcium, 1.4mg iron

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Whole roasted salmon with kale, butternut squash and pomegranate salad

Signe said roasted salmon is ‘the home cook’s best friend’ – definitely one if you’re looking for stress-free Christmas prep. Yet the whole roasted fish, stuffed with fresh vegetables and herbs, looks magnificent on the festive table. And then there’s the beautiful raw kale salad with roasted carrots and butternut squash. It’s light and wintry, comforting and clean, and can be made a few hours in advance. For a twist, Signe suggested adding teriyaki for an Asian flavour, or to bulk up the salad even more, try adding walnuts or other seasonal vegetables and nuts.

Serves 8-10
For the salmon
Oil, for greasing
1 whole Norwegian salmon (about 2 kg), descaled, gutted and cleaned
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 unwaxed lemons, thinly sliced, plus juice of ½ lemon
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
Bunch fresh parsley

For the salad
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into bite-size pieces
2tbsp olive oil
2 bunches kale, finely chopped
2 pomegranates, shucked open and deseeded (seeds placed in a bowl)

1. Heat the oven to 150oC/fan 130o C/gas 2. Lightly oil 2 long sheets of extra-strong aluminium foil. Put one sheet on top of a large roasting tray, oil-side facing up, and season with black pepper.

2. Wipe the salmon dry and make three incisions into each side. If the fish is too big to fit in your oven, slice off the tail and put it beside the fish. Stuff all six incisions with the red onion, lemon, carrot and parsley, reserving some lemon slices and parsley to garnish. Close the salmon and sprinkle with a little lemon juice to taste. Put the second sheet of foil on top of the salmon, oil-side down, and crimp the edges inwards to create a sealed parcel. Put the salmon in the oven and roast for 1½ to 2 hours. Keep checking the fish to avoid overcooking it – the flesh should be just opaque and easily flake when cooked.

3. Meanwhile, to make the salad, put the butternut squash on an uncovered tray, drizzle with the oil and cook in the oven for around 30 min. (See cook’s tips, below.)

4. Put the kale and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl. Toss together, then cover and set aside until ready to serve.

5. Once the salmon is cooked, remove the top foil from the roasting tray and simply move the whole fish on to a serving plate or board to place at the centre of the table (repositioning the tail if separated to cook). To portion up the fish, scrape off the skin (and assorted cooked vegetables from the incisions). Top the kale and pomegranate seeds with the roasted butternut squash and serve with the salmon.

Per serving (based on 8 servings):
406kcal, 35.5g protein, 20.9g fat, 3.4g saturates, 20.5g carbs, 13.4g sugar, 7.7g fibre, 0.3g salt, 191mg calcium, 3mg iron

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Cook’s tips:

-Norwegian salmon is available in Tesco between November and January – just look for the Norge logo on packs of boneless Norwegian salmon side (1kg, RRP £24) and on boneless Norwegian half salmon side (500g, RRP £12)
-If your oven isn’t big enough to fit the butternut squash on one level and the salmon on another, cook the butternut squash first, followed by the salmon.

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