Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice

There is a rolling continuum of the ingredients I cook with throughout the year, mounds of rhubarb in late spring toppling into the berries of summer, mingling on occasion in recipes like Nordic rhubarb and strawberry jam. In this way, fruits and vegetables help mark the changing seasons, ushering one gracefully into the next. Around this time each summer, when the midday sun begins to compete with the moist marine air around Seattle and the leaves begin their gradual display of changing colors, I feel compelled to embrace tomatoes, still vibrant and full of flavor, as often as I can and buy corn to grill for an outdoor meal, even if we must pull a sweater up over our shoulders while we dine.

This time of year, we do a lot of grilling. My husband prepares good quality meat or fish, seasoning it simply with olive oil and sea salt and maybe a little pepper and puts it on the grill while I make the side dishes and set the table. On Friday evening we needed little more than lamb chops and a couple of simple salads to make a meal.

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice and Tomato Salad

Cucumber salads have figured prominently in my home in recent months, with the sweet-and-sour cucumber salad and cucumber salad with dill that I made for June’s Midsummer picnic and a creamy salad of cucumber and radish. There are any number of varieties in Scandinavian cuisine, and even with similar ingredient lists they can taste much different, depending on technique, the palate and taste preferences of the cook, and the seasonings. I veered away from the traditional Nordic varieties this past weekend, taking cues from David Tanis’ Heart of the Artichoke instead. Peeling the cucumber and slicing it into half moons, I dressed it with yogurt seasoned with garlic, fresh dill and mint, and drizzled olive oil and sprinkled red pepper flakes over the top. Adding a simple salad of heirloom tomatoes, we were set.

Heirloom Tomatoes on Board

Soon enough the tomatoes will make way for the foods of autumn. Apples are already making their way into my baking, and soon artichokes and Brussels sprouts will take up significant parts of our meals. And don’t forget the squash and root vegetables that conjure up all the cozy nostalgia of autumns past. One season is beginning its gradual roll into the next, but I’ll hold onto every last bit of summer as long as I can.

Tomatoes and Summer Dinner

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice
Inspired by the Cucumbers and Yogurt in Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis

1 large cucumber
Salt and pepper
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 garlic clove, pressed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Red pepper flakes

Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half lengthwise, then slice into half moons about 1/3-inch thick. Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add yogurt, garlic, olive oil, mint, and dill, and stir. Refrigerate while you’re preparing the rest of your meal–try to give it at least a half an hour. Check the seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and drizzle olive oil over the top.

Serves 4.

Danish Blue Cheese Salad

Danish Blue Cheese Salad Vertical

To paint with light–that is what photographers do.

That idea, a way to reshape the way I look at the world, is the one nugget that’s stayed with me all these years since I was first studying photography.

Fast forward from the late 1990s to the present, I’ve been switching from film to digital this year as I relearn the art of SLR photography. Although technology has evolved, film has become a niche, and time has clouded much of what I learned back then, one thing is still the same: the science of light and the way it wraps around an object, enveloping it with its invisible yet transformative qualities.

Radishes and Salad

Armed with a new DSLR camera and taking workshops here and there, my eyes are being reopened to the beauty of the world around me–in particular, the beauty of food.

Just take a look at a bunch of radishes, their magenta skin glowing and contrasting with the green leaves. Exact opposites on the color wheel. Nature. Art.

Radishes on Plate Vertical

When food is this pretty in its raw, whole form, it deserves to retain its dignity when integrated into a dish.

That’s one of the things I love about this Danish blue cheese salad. Isn’t it pretty? On a bed of curly lettuce, thinly-sliced cucumbers and radishes nestle together with sliced cherry tomatoes, a trace of shaved onion, fresh dill, and crumbled blue cheese. It’s so simple there’s almost nothing to it. The dressing–oil and vinegar accented with a little mustard, salt, and sugar–highlights the salad’s flavors without drawing attention to itself.

Crisp, fresh, summery. No one ingredient dominant, except perhaps the blue cheese with its pungent pop of flavor. Just right.

Of course, presentation is important–ingredients this beautiful want to be dressed up, allowed to shine.

Danish Blue Cheese Salad Horizontal

In some regards, photography has been reminding me about how lucky we are to have access to so much good food. Quality, whole ingredients–radishes, tomatoes, artichokes, you name it–possess a special beauty that their canned and frozen counterparts lack. As I’ve been studying photography and applying what I’m learning to my own work, I’ve been reflecting on the luxury that living in Seattle provides; as I mentioned the other day, the city has a multitude of farmers markets, some of which operate year-round, and it’s no problem to find grocery stores stocking quality, whole, organic items. Eating well is easy.

Circling back to the idea of painting with light, consider that the next time you sit down to eat something fresh. Look at the reflections and shadows, the range of colors and textures, and how they all work together to create something beautiful. See if taking the visual nature of food into account doesn’t somehow elevate its taste. It sure does for me.

Lettuce and Salad Closeup

Danish Blue Cheese Salad
Adapting a recipe from Scandinavian Feasts by Beatrice Ojakangas, I added dill and tomatoes, giving it an extra special summery touch. I resisted the urge to swap the canola oil and white wine vinegar with more special versions; I’m glad I did, as the resulting salad is just right. 

1 head curly green lettuce
1 small bunch radishes
1 2-inch length of cucumber
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh dill
1/4 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese (or other blue cheese of your choice; I used Stilton)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
Freshly-ground black pepper (optional)

Prepare the salad ingredients and place them in individual prep bowls: Wash and dry the lettuce then tear roughly into pieces; thinly slice radishes, cucumbers, and onion with a mandoline; cut tomatoes in half; and roughly chop dill.

To make the dressing, combine vinegar, mustard, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Slowly pour the oil into the vinegar while whisking, allowing the ingredients to combine.

Assemble the salads by dividing the lettuce between six plates and topping with radish and cucumber slices. Place a little sliced onion on the top of each salad, then arrange tomato halves around. Scatter blue cheese and dill over each salad. Just before serving, spoon the dressing over each salad. Top with a little freshly-ground black pepper if desired.

Serves 6.

Nordic Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam

Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam with Bread

Mornings are slow, quiet times in our house most days. I sip my coffee in slow minuscule amounts at first, drinking a little more quickly as it cools. Still, I rarely find myself finishing an entire cup before it’s gone tepid and I must either reheat it in the microwave (which never yields satisfying results), drink it quickly so I can refill my mug with hot coffee from the machine (an approach requires mentally turning off my tastebuds for a moment), or simply drain out the cool remnants and start fresh (which is my preferred, yet slightly wasteful, method).

For most of my adult life I’ve treated breakfast as optional, but coffee has always been a necessity: something warm and bitter to savor as I ease into the day. Until I became a parent, brunch was reserved for a rare weekend, making it somewhat of a special occasion. These days, though, with a child, breakfast is a daily event, whether I take part in it or not. So with that in mind, I’m trying to find new ways to elevate the meal into something enjoyable and delicious, something that feels almost a little decadent while remaining nutritious and balanced. One way is by spreading a hearty slice of toasted organic whole-grain or rye bread with a special preserve or jam, perhaps one brought back from a trip or something homemade.

Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Vanilla

Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Vanilla in Pan

With my seasonal fascination with rhubarb, I got to work one recent day, chopping the stalks into pieces an inch or so long, then placing them in a saucepan with some strawberries, sugar, and a whole vanilla bean. The recipe–adapted from The Nordic Diet–was about as easy as could be, requiring only a little bit of patience as I stirred the fruit over medium heat. The fruit quickly began to release its juices, helping to dissolve the sugar. As it cooked, the fruit filled my kitchen with a warm, strawberry-rhubarb scent, as though I were baking a pie.

The fruit broke down as it cooked, and in 15 minutes or so I had a luscious, warm sauce that was equally appropriate to treat as a jam for toast or a compote to spoon over rich, creamy, plain yogurt.

I’ll keep sharing more of my breakfast treats here in the future. In the meantime, what do you enjoy eating as you start the day?

Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Sugar

Rhubarb and Strawberry with Bread for Breakfast

Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam
Adapted just barely from The Nordic Diet by Trina Hahnemann, this recipe is good just the way it is. However, next time I will use only an inch-long piece of vanilla bean, splitting it open before adding it to the fruit. The original recipe calls for an entire bean, left whole, which lends just the slightest hint of flavor to the jam and seems extravant for such a precious ingredient.

11 ounces rhubarb, cut into inch-long pieces
2 cups strawberries, halved or quartered
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup raw organic sugar

Place rhubarb, strawberries, and vanilla bean in a 3 quart saucepan and toss with the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently as you bring the fruit to a boil. The fruit will release its juices as it cooks, so you shouldn’t have any problems with it drying out; however, Hahnemann says adding a little water would be fine if that should happen. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, then cool. Store in the fridge.

Yields about 1.5 to 2 cups.

A Salad for a Scandinavian Picnic

Scandinavian Potato and Egg Salad

Today the birds sang brightly, their whistling chirps piercing through the still spring air. The afternoon sun cast a diffused light through the clouds and the temperature called for sweaters over tank tops and t-shirts. Yet the day still held the promise of warmer months to come. These are the signals that point to picnic dates and barbecues, long evening walks and cocktails sipped on the porch at sunset.

To complement the season, substantial salads have comprised the theme of dinners at my house in recent weeks. From a pasta salad with asparagus, radishes, and a creamy avocado dressing to a chickpea and feta salad that’s been a staple in my house for several years, such dishes have formed the base of most meals in my house recently, with the fish or meat being almost an afterthought. Most recently we enjoyed a Scandinavian potato, egg, and dill salad.

Potato Salad Dressing Ingredients

When it comes to potato salads, it seems that there are as many versions as there are families to make them. Whether they’re made with a Scandinavian, American, French, or German touch, they’re each unique and personalized for a particular palate. For some reason or another, I’ve never developed a signature potato salad. Both my mom and my mother-in-law make spectacular ones with an indulgent combination of flavor and texture, but I haven’t learned their tricks. This week, however, I think I came up with a potato salad to call my own.

Inspired by the Tangy Egg and Potato Salad in Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking, I got to work mixing up a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise, grainy mustard, dill, shallots, cornichons, green onions, and lemon juice. The dressing generously coated boiled new potatoes, which I sprinkled with fresh chives before arranging hard-boiled eggs on top. Author Signe Johansen calls her version a pepped-up version of a traditional Scandinavian salad, and if that’s the case, then mine takes takes even more creative license, swapping out her salad cream for mayonnaise and her pickle recommendation for cornichons, giving the salad some American and French touches.

The result, to me, is perfect. With a sprig of dill and a few chive blossoms as garnishes, the vibrant colors of the salad reflect the beauty of spring. Pack it up in a basket with some smoked salmon, a thermos of coffee, and a few slices of bløtkake (Norwegian cream cake) with fresh strawberries, and you’ll have the makings of a delicious Scandinavian picnic.

Potato and Egg Salad

Scandinavian Potato, Egg, and Dill Salad
Adapted from Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking by Signe Johansen

14 ounces new potatoes
4 eggs
6 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons finely-chopped shallot
12 cornichons, finely chopped
¾ cup sour cream
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
4 sprigs dill, finely chopped, plus one more for garnish
Juice of one medium-sized lemon
Pinch of ground allspice
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

Bring two medium pots of water to a boil. Gently lower the eggs into one and allow to simmer for 11 minutes, then remove the eggs and submerge into a bowl of ice water to cool. Meanwhile, lightly salt the water in the other pot and cook the potatoes in simmering water until fork tender but not too soft, about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked through, drain and set aside in a cool place until they reach room temperature.

While the eggs and potatoes are cooling, prepare the dressing by placing the green onions, shallot, cornichons, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, chopped dill, lemon juice, and allspice in a large bowl and stirring to combine. Taste and adjust ingredients to suite your tastes.

Add potatoes to the dressing and stir gently to coat, then transfer to a serving dish. Scatter the chives over the top. Peel and quarter the eggs and place them on top and garnish with dill.

Serves 6.

Spring Potato and Egg Salad in Dish

Composed Salad of Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Mâche, Egg, and Asparagus

Composed Salad with Smoked Salmon

I think it’s part of the collective food-lovers’ experience to crave salads as soon as spring rolls around. In contrast to the hearty dishes that have dominated our kitchens for months, salads seem to represent the fresh air, lightened moods, and sense of new beginnings that come with spring. So it seems appropriate, then, that my latest article for the Norwegian American Weekly features an original recipe for Composed Salad of Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Mâche, Egg, and Asparagus.

This salad makes me think of a Norwegian variation on the salade Niçoise, which I love so much. Just as with that French favorite, this salad is fresh and light yet contains enough protein to make it a meal. Just butter a slice of bread and pour a sparkling beverage, and you’ll be set. Or, better, yet, pack it up and make it part of a Syttende Mai picnic if you live in a city that has a parade. Click here for the recipe, and enjoy!

Composed Salad with Smoked Salmon and Cucumber

Delicious Nostalgia: Boiled Cabbage with Butter and Dill

Cabbage with Butter and Dill

I wonder if all of us who cook bring a certain amount of nostalgia to the process. There are the dishes we remember from our childhood, those homey, cozy recipes that nothing can beat when it comes to comfort food. They are the staples of our family’s cooking repertoire that we come back to when we want a taste of home. And they satisfy, time and time again.

As a reluctant foodie, one who embodies the love of food that the term inhabits but chaffs at the title, I love chasing the next trend as much as the next enthusiastic eater. But it is the food of my youth and family heritage that intrigues me more than any.

Cabbage Half

Cabbage Slices

Outside Oslo has long been a means of discovery, a place where I can record and share what I’ve uncovered as I’ve explored the cuisine of Norway and its neighboring countries. I’ve featured some of my own family’s stories and recipes as well. Something I’ve discovered in the process is the value of hanging onto elements of the past as we move forward with the future. So much of a place’s history is evidenced in its cuisine; once you know a little bit about both, you can start seeing the correlation between the two. The same goes with family history. I love rummaging through my grandma Adeline’s old recipe boxes and her notebooks full of handwritten recipes. Through her handwriting and those of her friends and relatives, I find treasures that are priceless, and I am grateful that she has given me her collection now that she no longer cooks alone. Those recipes are filled with her stories and memories. Each time I get together with her to bake, I uncover little snippets of her life as she talks.

Dill and Cabbage

Cabbage in Pot

With all this about nostalgia in cooking, perhaps it won’t take much effort for me to convince you of the merits of writing about something as seemingly “anti-gourmet” as boiled cabbage on a food blog. To be honest, I wouldn’t have given this preparation a thought until I read about it in Nigel Slater’s Tender last week. In two paragraphs, this talented chef and author transformed my idea of boiled cabbage from a limp, soggy, tasteless mess into something luscious, incredibly simple, and comforting. Upon preparing it as a quick side dish for a weeknight meal, I was reminded of something deep in my past that I haven’t thought about for years: the steamed cabbage my mom used to make when I was growing up. I can’t remember the last time she made it, and I had forgotten how satisfying toothsome and nourishing it tasted. I guess some foods go out of fashion in families just like they do with global food trends. After rediscovering this though, I’ll be keeping it in my own cooking repertoire.

The key, I think, is in watching the cabbage carefully and removing it from the water at precisely the right moment. With a pat of butter, a sprinkling of salt, and some chopped fresh dill, the cabbage has a warm, thick yet silky quality and the flavors that any Norwegian would appreciate.

Cabbage with Dill

Boiled Cabbage with Butter and Dill
Inspired by Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater and many meals of my childhood

1/2 head cabbage
1-2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and liberally add salt. Meanwhile, slice cabbage into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-wide pieces and separate the leaves. Drop them in the water and cook just until the color begins to brighten and the cabbage softens slightly. This will take just a couple of minutes. Immediately remove the cabbage with a slotted spoon or sieve and allow to drain for a moment in a colander. Divide between two plates and top each serving with a pat of butter, a sprinkling of dill, and salt to taste. Serve immediately while still hot.

Note: Please don’t even consider making this in advance and reheating at serving time; fresh from the pot is best. Due to the quick preparation, it’s easy to prepare this recipe right before going to the table. If you’re preparing a meat dish that needs to rest, you can easily make the cabbage in those last few minutes as long as you have a pot of water boiling in advance.

Serves 2.

In the Norwegian American Weekly: Golden Beet, Geitost, and Watercress Salad

Goat Cheese, Beet, and Watercress Salad

It’s a wonder to me that North America hasn’t caught on yet to the wonders of Scandinavian cuisine. With smoked or cured salmons, caramel-like brown cheese, sweet-tart lingonberry preserves, and bountiful berries and fresh herbs, the foods of the Nordic countries are just as enticing as those of the Mediterranean, Asia, and other beloved cuisines of the world. As the writer of a Scandinavian food blog, I take it upon myself regularly to highlight what I love about these foods–sometimes in traditional preparations and othertimes in unconventional ones. My latest article in the Norwegian American Weekly features my original recipe for Golden Beet and Geitost Stacks (stay tuned for the link to the recipe if you don’t get the hard copy). This beautiful salad pairs the creamy sweet flavor of Norwegian geitost with the delicate earthy taste of golden beets. These stacks–to be served one per person–are set atop a bed of peppery watercress dressed in walnut oil and white balsamic vinegar, a simple dressing that complements the the flavors perfectly. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do!

Update: The story and recipe are now available online. Check them out!

Beets and Watercress

Goat Cheese and Beet Salad

 

 

Finnish Aunt Hanna’s Cookies

Finnish Aunt Hanna's Cookies

As I was reviewing my posts from the month of February the other day, I noticed an interesting–and unexpected–pattern: All the recipes were for savory dishes. As someone whose lifelong culinary proclivities have bent slightly more on the side of baking than cooking, seeing such an across-the-board trend came as a surprise. I’m seeking to change that today with a recipe I briefly mentioned back in January: Finnish Aunt Hanna’s Cookies. These cookies come together easily and would be perfect with an afternoon cup of tea. Enjoy, and I’ll be back with more savory and sweet recipes soon!

Aunt Hanna’s Cookies (Hannatädinkakut)
Adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whipping cream
Sliced almonds or almond halves, for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare your baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until combined. In a separate bowl, stir together flour and baking powder, and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar. Add the cream and keep mixing until the dough comes together and stiffens. At this point, you can proceed if the dough is workable, otherwise chill for a little while.

To form the cookies, roll a teaspoon of dough into small bowls and place on the baking sheets, spacing them about an inch and a half apart. Gently press a few almond slices or a halved almond onto the top of each cookie, and bake until the cookies have set and barely started to turn golden. Allow to cool; the original recipe calls for cooling on the baking pan, but I removed mine to a wire baking rack immediately to keep the bottoms from browning too much.

In Praise of the Pantry: A Goat Cheese Platter to the Rescue

Crispbread with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

Tiny feet stomp down the hallway like a herd of buffalo, and internally, subconsciously, instinctively, I know what the sock-padded reverberation represents and exactly which part of the house it is coming from. Most importantly, I know that the steady sound of a toddler’s feet–intentionally using the floor as an instrument like a tap dancer–means everything is alright.

It is in the moments of silence, in contrast, when the mother wonders what is going on and abandons the pot of soup bubbling on the stove or the dishes still soapy in the sink, prepared to engage in some sort of intervention or diversion.

Such is my life as a mother who renews her enthusiasm day after day to also carve out time for her creative pursuits. The quiet, leisurely cooking that could happen during naptime often gives way for writing, and a simple beet salad takes several hours to prepare, from start to finish, with all the activity present at any one moment.

Pickled Asparagus

Mushrooms and Goat Cheese Collage

It is on the multi-tasking days, when I cook while my son plays, when I most need to simplify my cooking and trust what I’ve learned throughout all my years in the kitchen. And considering naptime makes grocery shopping and cooking on the same day difficult, having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is a good thing.

Those pantry items–high-quality canned salmon, pasta, crispbread and other crackers, canned beans, pickled vegetables, and more garlic and onions than I know what to do with–mean that a quick meal or snack is always possible, if I can drum up the creativity with which to envision it.

Goat Cheese Platter

The recipe I’m sharing with you today–Norwegian Goat Cheese with Mushrooms, Pickled Asparagus, and Crispbread–represents the possibilities that come from having good food on hand at all times, whether they’re pantry staples or refrigerated items with a long shelf life. In fact, I had everything on hand for this recipe before going to the store the other day, except for the mushrooms.

I’ve been trying to learn more about Norwegian cheeses, and I had a container of Snøfrisk in the refrigerator waiting to be enjoyed. What would go well with any type of spreadable goat cheese with a soft flavor and creamy consistency? Sautéed mushrooms with a little bit of garlic and thyme seemed like a natural pairing. And what about that jar of gourmet pickled asparagus spears in the fridge? As I suspected, that was just what the other ingredients needed to round everything out. Served on crispbread–another pantry staple–with a cold beer, this was just the thing to have waiting on the counter for an after-work, pre-dinner snack.

Goat Cheese with Asparagus and MushroomsGoat Cheese with Mushrooms, Pickled Asparagus, and Crispbread
An Outside Oslo original

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
Leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
Salt
1 (4 1/2 ounce) container spreadable goat cheese, preferably Norwegian
Pickled asparagus, for serving
Crispbread, for serving

Heat olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add garlic and saute over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and continue to saute, stirring frequently, until tender and almost done. Add thyme and continue to saute until mushrooms are done. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a small serving bowl.

Arrange mushrooms, goat cheese, pickled asparagus, and crispbread on a platter and serve.

Beet and Apple Salad with Toasted Caraway Seeds

Beet and Apple Salad Vertical

From the moment I woke up and scanned my e-mail, Facebook, and Instagram to see what had developed in the hours I had been sleeping, I was reminded of the fact that it was Valentine’s Day. Seeing people post photos of flowers and comments about love was enough to get the day off to a good start–before I had even gotten out of bed.

Lobster with Beet and Apple Salad

I’ll be honest, Valentine’s Day isn’t a big deal in our house. It’s a nice holiday, but one with no expectations, no obligation. Still, I couldn’t help but try to express my love by making a beet salad for my husband and cleaning up the kitchen so that he would walk in after work and come inside to a clean and peaceful house (now, that sounds most idyllically domestic, doesn’t it?).

Upon arriving home, my husband went straight into the kitchen and whipped up a couple of White Russians (a family favorite) and presented me with lobster. He does know me well.

I love watching meals come together when different parties are responsible for elements rather than one person coordinating the whole thing. The most unexpected and delicious menus happen that way. In the case of Valentine’s Day, we savored each bite of tender yet al dente, briny yet delicate lobster served with fresh lemon and melted butter. On the side, soft, toothsome bites of cooked beets mingled with crunchy pieces of raw apples in a sweet-tart salad topped with toasted caraway and fresh parsley.

Dessert wasn’t necessary. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind.

I spent this weekend out of town wine tasting out of town with a friend, and upon arriving back at home this evening, I enjoyed the leftovers. I’m happy to report that even after several days of marinating, the salad has retained its fresh flavor, and although the crisp finish of the raw apples has given way to a more delicately-textured salad, it’s still as delicious as ever. I hope you enjoy the salad as much as I do.

Beet Salad and Lobster

Beet and Apple Salad with Toasted Caraway Seeds
Adapted from The Scandinavian Kitchen by Camilla Plum

1 1/4 pounds beets
2 cups unfiltered apple juice
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 red apples
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
Flat-leaf parsley leaves

Boil or steam the beets (I prefer to use a pressure cooker, which cooks even the largest beets even in as little as 16 minutes). When cool enough to handle, rub away and discard the peel and cut the beets into medium-size diced.

Meanwhile, while the beets are cooking, make the apple gastrique: Combine apple juice and 1 1/4 cups cider vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly while preparing the rest of the salad.

Core the apples (but do not peel) and cut into similar-size dice as the beets.

To make the dressing, combine the olive oil with a scant 1/4 cup of the apple gastrique (reserve any remainders for future kitchen use when you want to add a little extra flavor to a dish), the remaining 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, and the sea salt. Toss with the apples and beets and then arrange on a pretty platter.

Toast caraway seeds in a small skillet until they become fragrant and begin to “jump” in the pan. Grind them to a powder, and then scatter over the top of the salad. Scatter leaves of parsley over the top of the salad.

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