Scandinavian Open-Face Sandwiches

Feb 11, 2021

I had all sorts of plans to publish this post over a month ago but it seemed like a beast of an article to write so I kept postponing it. But as the saying goes, all good things are worth waiting for, so I hope you will agree that there will be a lot of valuable info (and recipes!) in this post.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought a post on Scandinavian open-face sandwiches could also be a new and different idea for a romantic brunch… although originally I made this on New Year’s Eve. In essence, you can dish up these varied and creative sandwiches anytime you want to feel a little extra festive and are in the mood for a savory bite or three.

On New Year’s Eve 2020 I decided to continue with a Scandinavian food theme (every Christmas is very Norwegian in my house) and to make the food pretty light and varied. After weeks of baking cookies, desserts, and eating heavy foods, it seemed appropriate to be easing off the comfort foods and dive into more elegant, smaller dishes.

I have been wanting to tackle how to veganize the different classic toppings we put on the elegant open-face sandwiches you often see in Nordic cafes and bakeries across the countries; pickled herring, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and much more. I love how creative and delicate these sandwiches are and how they truly represent the flavors of Scandinavian cuisine; mostly savory with smoked, salty, pickled, and cured flavors and cooking methods.

Classic Norwegian food may not deliver the most powerful flavors or include spicy, in-your-face-dishes, but it has a strong presence that evokes memories of strong culinary history, a sense of belonging, and proof that traditions are still important and we do our best to preserve that.

While wine drinking is more of a recent phenomenon in Norway, wine has always been an important part of my culinary journey. It all began when I was 18 years old and decided to move to Rome, Italy for a year to learn the language and take a break from school before heading off to college in the U.S. I fell in love with the Italian love for both food and wine and bought my very first cookbook.

It’s serendipitous that today, I work with wine for a living and am proud to be representing one of the top wineries in the world, Querciabella, a world-renowned vegan, organic, and biodynamic winery located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, Italy.

Batàr is the only white wine we make, and also one of Italy’s iconic white wines with a cult following. We produce it in very small quantities, and it’s one of the world’s few white wines that has the capability of aging two decades and more. Made up of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Blanc, it’s an unusual combination of grapes, particularly in this wine region, but one that has proven to become incredibly successful.

One of my favorite, and what I think, most fascinating things about this wine is how it evolves and changes over the years to display its many attributes. With some age, Batàr develops umami-like flavors that serve as a perfect partner to the open-face sandwiches I’m sharing in this post and many other Nordic dishes.

One of the things I love most about the wines of Querciabella is their ability to age and change to become even more interesting and show just how versatile they are. It’s clear when you take a sip of Batàr that this wine was made with love and the utmost attention—it even has its own barrel room at the winery!

This wine could stand up to many of the top wines from Burgundy while simultaneously possessing a strong, authentic Tuscan character. I’m really excited about the new vintage we are releasing on the market soon in the U.S. which is the 2017 vintage. It has received rave reviews from many wine critics, including Jancis Robinson who awarded it 17+ points and called it “complex and age-worthy… a serious wine for the table.”

If you are looking to offer up something unique and extraordinary and serve a white wine that will please both red and white wine lovers—Batàr is a wonderful choice! With Valentine’s Day coming up it’s also a beautiful way to impress a loved one 🙂 I hope you will seek out a bottle and try it, as well as of course making one or all of the dishes I suggest in this post!

When I first turned vegan, I had never imagined that things like smoked salmon and pickled herring could be veganized, but with help from some incredibly talented vegan cooks and food lovers, I’ve come up with my interpretation of plant-based versions of these traditional animal-based dishes.

The goal for me is always to invoke the familiar flavors (which in turn brings back fond memories from my childhood and growing up in Norway) while leaving out animals in my recipes.

Because there is no longer a need to include our fellow beings on our plates with all the incredible plants and products we find today that are 100% cruelty-free. Better for our health, the planet, and of course…The animals.

I hope you will enjoy my adaptations!


 

Smoked “Salmon” (Røkelaks)

4 large carrots
Sea salt, for coating
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons caper brine
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Big squeeze fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475°F and line a medium baking dish with parchment paper.

Coat the bottom with about a ¼-inch layer of salt, then place the whole carrots in the dish and sprinkle with a good amount of salt. Don’t worry, you won’t be eating all this salt in the final result.

Roast the carrots until easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy. The timing will depend on the size and freshness of your carrots. Check them, starting around 40 minutes – my very large carrots took 60-90 minutes. This step can be done in advance.

Make the marinade:
In a shallow dish or small bowl, combine the olive oil, rice vinegar, caper brine, tamari or soy sauce, paprika, lemon juice, and several grinds of freshly ground black pepper.

Remove the carrots from the oven and let cool.

Use your hands to rub off any excess salt. Use a knife to slice a thin strip off one side of the salty skin, and then use a peeler to peel the carrot into ribbons. If your peeler snagged on the soft carrot, that’s ok, just slice pieces as thinly as you can with a sharp knife. Place the strips in the marinade and toss to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate for 15-30 minutes.

Serve with bagels, cream cheese, cucumber slices, capers, chives, and/or dill.

If you have extra carrots, cover and refrigerate them in the marinade for up to 4 days.

This maple-dill mustard is a sauce I make that I not only smear on sandwiches but also drizzle on boiled potatoes and other vegetables for that additional Nordic touch.

Maple-dill mustard

1/4 cup maple mustard
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup chopped dill sprigs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify. Stir in dill, pepper, and salt.
 

 

Scrambled “Eggs” with Chives (Eggerøre)

1-2 tablespoons vegan butter (like Miyoko’s or Earth Balance)
1 container (12 fluid ounces or 354 ml) Just Eggs https://www.ju.st/
Handful of chopped chives
Salt and pepper

Heat up the butter in a medium non-stick skillet. Shake up the container of Just Eggs and pour into the heated skillet. With a rubber spatula, continue stirring and scrambling the eggs, while adding in the chopped chives and sprinkle in a couple of pinches of kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve warm or room temperature.
 

 
I think every Norwegian kid grew up eating leverpostei on their sandwiches—of course, now the thought of eating someone’s liver grosses me out so I make a fancy version made of a mixture of mushrooms, onion, lentils, and nuts which is ten times tastier but still reminds me of that classic Norwegian paté. Serve it with freshly sliced vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, and/or radishes.
 

Patè of mushroom and lentils (Leverpostei)

8 ounces (225 grams) mixed mushrooms such as button, portobello, and maitake, cleaned and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan unsalted butter
1 small Vidalia onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups (400 grams) cooked green lentils
1 cup (140 grams) toasted walnuts or pecans
freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 heaping tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
optional: 2 teaspoons Cognac or sherry
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute, until the onions become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re soft and cooked through, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, soy sauce, rosemary, thyme, parsley, Cognac or sherry (if using), brown sugar, and cayenne. Process until completely smooth.

Taste, and add salt, pepper, and additional cognac, soy sauce, or lemon juice, if needed.

Pour the pâté into a serving bowl or small terrine and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.
 

 
Eggplant might sound like an unusual ingredient to substitute for herring, but the fun part about this amazing vegetable is that you can work with both the texture and flavor much like you can with mushrooms. When pickled, it has a similar texture to herring but none of that strong fishy taste, which I’m no longer a fan of. But all the other ingredients are here—lots of acid, crunchy cornichons, creamy yogurt, Dijon mustard, and herbs.

Simply delicious and it might become your new favorite spread!
 

Norwegian Beet and “Herring” Salad (Rødbet og Sildesalat)

About 9 oz (250 grams) beets, roasted and peeled
About 9 oz (250 grams) eggplant
½ cup (1 dl) fresh orange juice
¼ cup (½ dl) fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 small red onion
Juice from ½ lime
1 medium green apple (like Granny Smith)
3-4 tablespoons chopped cornichons or pickles
½ cup (1 dl) unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
¼ cup (½ dl) vegan cream*
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Juice from ½ lime
Sea or kosher salt, pepper, sugar to taste
2 tablespoons capers
A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Slice the onion into thin rings, place in a small bowl with the juice from ½ of your lime, season with kosher or sea salt, stir and let marinate for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, slice your eggplant into ¼ inch thick (1/2 cm) slices, then into thin strips.

In a medium shallow pot, add the fresh orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the eggplant and let simmer for about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool in the liquid.

Peel the roasted beets (I usually bake the beets for 1 hour at 400° Fahrenheit / 200° Celsius and I wrap them in foil with a little olive oil and kosher salt and maybe a sprig or two of thyme). Once peeled, dice small. Dice the apple and the cornichons/pickles into the same size and add all three items into a medium or large bowl. Fold in the reserved eggplant (remove the cinnamon stick and cloves).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the non-dairy yogurt, non-dairy cream (the easiest way to make your own cream is to add equal parts raw cashews and water into a high-speed blender and puree until creamy), Dijon mustard, the juice from ½ a lemon, salt, pepper and a little sugar to taste.

Add the cream mixture to the beet-apple-eggplant, and carefully mix together.

Garnish with pickled red onions, capers, and fresh thyme.

Stored in an airtight glass container in the fridge, the salad keeps for about 2 weeks.
 

 
In Scandinavia, we play around with a lot of different flavored sauces with pickled herring. Herring used to be the fish there was most of in the ocean for us but of course now with overfishing and the pollution of the oceans, that is no longer the case. So in this recipe, I use a mixture of wild mushrooms which is an amazing replacement. Dill and mustard are classic flavor combinations in Norwegian cuisine and this one of my favorite recipes I pull out when I feel an extra tug of homesickness.
 

Mustard Pickled Herring (Sennepssild)

Mustard dressing:
2/3 cup (1½ dl) vegan yogurt
1/4 cup (½ dl)vegan mayo
3 tablespoons whole ground mustard (or 2 tbsp Dijon mustard)
1 teaspoon capers
A little fresh dill
1 tablespoon light syrup/maple syrup
2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Set aside.

For the “herring”:
250 grams (9 ounces) wild mushrooms, like Lion’s Mane, oyster, Trumpet, or chanterelles
1 shallot
½ cup (1 dl) water
2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons sugar
A little maple syrup

Cut the mushrooms into wide strips.

Cut the shallots into thin rings.

Bring the water up to a boil with the vinegar, salt, a little pepper, and sugar. Adjust to get the right combination of salty/sweet/sour.

Add the mushrooms and shallot and bring to a boil. Combine well, then remove from heat and leave mushrooms and onions to steep in the liquid for about ½-1 hour.

Drain the mushrooms from most of the liquid, place into a bowl with the mustard dressing, and combine well.

Transfer to an airtight jar or container fitted with a lid.

Keeps for about one week in the refrigerator.
 

 
Egg salad is a classic dish in Norway and is popular on smorgasbord (koldtbord as we call them in Norwegian), during Christmas breakfast and brunches as well as other daily and festive events. I’ve chosen to use tofu in this because I find that tofu really soaks up any flavor you add to it, and with the freshness of the lemon juice, the saltiness of the capers, and the slight spiciness of the red onion along with the fresh herbs, I really don’t even think about the egg not being there. It’s just a super flavorful creamy salad that is always a hit on my table.
 

“Egg” Salad (Eggesalat)

4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ red onion, diced small
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
1-2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
225 grams (8 ounces) extra-firm tofu, cut into ¼-inch (½ cm) cubes
A couple of pinches of celery seed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For serving:
6 slices of whole-grain sandwich bread
Watercress or spring greens, optional
Pickled red onion, optional
Radish slices, scallions, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, onion, olive oil, mustard, nutritional yeast, capers, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric, salt, and several grinds of black pepper.

Mix in the tofu and then lightly crumble it with your hands, keeping some of the cubes intact. We’re going for the texture of egg salad, not scrambled eggs.

Stir in the celery seed, dill, and chives. Chill until ready to serve.

Assemble the sandwiches with watercress or spring greens, a scoop of the egg salad, and pickled onions, scallions, and radish slices, if desired.
 

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Scandinavian Open-Face Sandwiches

Enjoy my veganized versions of these classic open-face sandwich toppings often seen in Nordic cafes and bakeries across the countries; pickled herring, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and much more.

Ingredients

Scale

Smoked “Salmon” (Røkelaks)

  • 4 large carrots
  • Sea salt for coating
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons caper brine
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Big squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Maple-dill mustard

  • 1/4 cup maple mustard
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Scrambled “Eggs” with Chives (Eggerøre)

  • 12 tablespoons vegan butter like Miyoko’s or Earth Balance
  • 1 container 12 fluid ounces or 354 ml Just Eggs https://www.ju.st/
  • Handful of chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper

Patè of mushroom and lentils (Leverpostei)

  • 8 ounces 225 grams mixed mushrooms such as button, portobello, and maitake, cleaned and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegan unsalted butter
  • 1 small Vidalia onion peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 cups 400 grams cooked green lentils
  • 1 cup 140 grams toasted walnuts or pecans
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme minced
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
  • optional: 2 teaspoons Cognac or sherry
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Norwegian Beet and “Herring” Salad (Rødbet og Sildesalat)

  • About 9 oz 250 grams beets, roasted and peeled
  • About 9 oz 250 grams eggplant
  • ½ cup 1 dl fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup ½ dl fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small red onion
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • 1 medium green apple like Granny Smith
  • 34 tablespoons chopped cornichons or pickles
  • ½ cup 1 dl unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • ¼ cup ½ dl vegan cream*
  • 12 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Sea or kosher salt pepper, sugar to taste
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Mustard Pickled Herring (Sennepssild)

Mustard dressing:

  • 2/3 cup 1½ dl vegan yogurt
  • 1/4 cup ½ dl vegan mayo
  • 3 tablespoons whole ground mustard or 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • A little fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon light syrup/maple syrup
  • 23 tablespoons rice vinegar
For the “herring”:

  • 250 grams 9 ounces wild mushrooms, like Lion’s Mane, oyster, Trumpet, or chanterelles
  • 1 shallot
  • ½ cup 1 dl water
  • 23 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 23 tablespoons sugar
  • A little maple syrup

“Egg” Salad (Eggesalat)

  • 4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ red onion diced small
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
  • 12 teaspoon sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 225 grams 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into ¼-inch (½ cm) cubes
  • A couple of pinches of celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
For serving:

  • 6 slices of whole-grain sandwich bread
  • Watercress or spring greens optional
  • Pickled red onion optional
  • Radish slices scallions, optional

Instructions

Smoked “Salmon” (Røkelaks)

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F and line a medium baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Coat the bottom with about a ¼-inch layer of salt, then place the whole carrots in the dish and sprinkle with a good amount of salt. Don’t worry, you won’t be eating all this salt in the final result.
  3. Roast the carrots until easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy. The timing will depend on the size and freshness of your carrots. Check them, starting around 40 minutes – my very large carrots took 60-90 minutes. This step can be done in advance.
Make the marinade:

  1. In a shallow dish or small bowl, combine the olive oil, rice vinegar, caper brine, tamari or soy sauce, paprika, lemon juice, and several grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Remove the carrots from the oven and let cool.
  3. Use your hands to rub off any excess salt. Use a knife to slice a thin strip off one side of the salty skin, and then use a peeler to peel the carrot into ribbons. If your peeler snagged on the soft carrot, that’s ok, just slice pieces as thinly as you can with a sharp knife. Place the strips in the marinade and toss to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Serve with bagels, cream cheese, cucumber slices, capers, chives, and/or dill.
  5. If you have extra carrots, cover and refrigerate them in the marinade for up to 4 days.
  6. This maple-dill mustard is a sauce I make that I not only smear on sandwiches but also drizzle on boiled potatoes and other vegetables for that additional Nordic touch.
Maple-dill mustard

  1. Whisk mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify. Stir in dill, pepper, and salt.

Scrambled “Eggs” with Chives (Eggerøre)

  1. Heat up the butter in a medium non-stick skillet. Shake up the container of Just Eggs and pour into the heated skillet. With a rubber spatula, continue stirring and scrambling the eggs, while adding in the chopped chives and sprinkle in a couple of pinches of kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Serve warm or room temperature.

Patè of mushroom and lentils (Leverpostei)

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute, until the onions become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re soft and cooked through, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, soy sauce, rosemary, thyme, parsley, Cognac or sherry (if using), brown sugar, and cayenne. Process until completely smooth.
  4. Taste, and add salt, pepper, and additional cognac, soy sauce, or lemon juice, if needed.
  5. Pour the pâté into a serving bowl or small terrine and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

Norwegian Beet and “Herring” Salad (Rødbet og Sildesalat)

  1. Slice the onion into thin rings, place in a small bowl with the juice from ½ of your lime, season with kosher or sea salt, stir and let marinate for about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, slice your eggplant into ¼ inch thick (1/2 cm) slices, then into thin strips.
  3. In a medium shallow pot, add the fresh orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the eggplant and let simmer for about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool in the liquid.
  4. Peel the roasted beets (I usually bake the beets for 1 hour at 400° Fahrenheit / 200° Celsius and I wrap them in foil with a little olive oil and kosher salt and maybe a sprig or two of thyme). Once peeled, dice small. Dice the apple and the cornichons/pickles into the same size and add all three items into a medium or large bowl. Fold in the reserved eggplant (remove the cinnamon stick and cloves).
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the non-dairy yogurt, non-dairy cream (the easiest way to make your own cream is to add equal parts raw cashews and water into a high-speed blender and puree until creamy), Dijon mustard, the juice from ½ a lemon, salt, pepper and a little sugar to taste.
  6. Add the cream mixture to the beet-apple-eggplant, and carefully mix together.
  7. Garnish with pickled red onions, capers, and fresh thyme.
  8. Stored in an airtight glass container in the fridge, the salad keeps for about 2 weeks.

Mustard Pickled Herring (Sennepssild)

Mustard dressing:

  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Set aside.
For the “herring”:

  1. Cut the mushrooms into wide strips.
  2. Cut the shallots into thin rings.
  3. Bring the water up to a boil with the vinegar, salt, a little pepper, and sugar. Adjust to get the right combination of salty/sweet/sour.
  4. Add the mushrooms and shallot and bring to a boil. Combine well, then remove from heat and leave mushrooms and onions to steep in the liquid for about ½-1 hour.
  5. Drain the mushrooms from most of the liquid, place into a bowl with the mustard dressing, and combine well.
  6. Transfer to an airtight jar or container fitted with a lid.
  7. Keeps for about one week in the refrigerator.

“Egg” Salad (Eggesalat)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, onion, olive oil, mustard, nutritional yeast, capers, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric, salt, and several grinds of black pepper.
  2. Mix in the tofu and then lightly crumble it with your hands, keeping some of the cubes intact. We’re going for the texture of egg salad, not scrambled eggs.
  3. Stir in the celery seed, dill, and chives. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Assemble the sandwiches with watercress or spring greens, a scoop of the egg salad, and pickled onions, scallions, and radish slices, if desired.

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