One of my first memories as a kid was standing around a campfire waiting for the hobo dinners to be done. The meal was rustic and hearty, made up of potatoes, carrots, onions and usually kielbasa. It was just what I needed after a day spent fishing with my dad, swimming in the lake and tormenting my little sister.
These days I don’t camp much, but the interest in connecting to the world around me through food remains. Today I do this through the farmers, fishermen, millers and artisans at my local farmers market. It’s a marvel to discover the foods grown, caught and produced just a few miles from my home.
When I first heard about New Nordic cuisine, I thought it would be all about pickled fish and meatballs. Those items may very well still be on the menu, but New Nordic is more than just particular foods and flavors. It’s about being authentic to where you live, paying attention to the seasons, and learning how to use the resources around you.
These ideals inspired my recipe for Roasted Salmon and Root Vegetables. It’s the kind of recipe that can be changed to reflect the region and season in which it is cooked. It can also be taken outdoors and cooked over a springtime campfire. It is my spruced-up mash-up of the hobo dinner and the Nordic biksemad, a traditional comfort food usually made with leftover potatoes and onions and a fried egg.
With the abundance of summer fruits and vegetables still a couple of months away, I kept the potatoes and onions and added beets. As the seasons change, feel free to shift to summer squash, corn, and bell peppers or, for fall, butternut squash, parsnips and sweet potatoes. I topped mine with a salmon fillet, but you could also use sausage, meatballs, or even a poached egg, depending on where you live and what’s available.
Pair this with a good Czech-style pilsner. The drier finish refreshes the palate after each bite and brings out the lemony dill in the recipe. Plus, given the Nordic flavors in the dish, it is no surprise that Scandinavia’s favorite brew pairs so well with it.
Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils is my family’s favorite with the salmon, but if you want to be true New Nordic, go local with a pilsner from a brewery close to home.
Roasted Salmon and Root Vegetable Hobo Dinners
1 ½ pounds baby potatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ pounds beets, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh dill, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds skinless salmon, about 1-inch thick, cut into large chunks
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
2 tablespoons dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Serve in the foil for a rustic dinner, or remove everything to separate plates. Top the salmon with a dollop of sauce or serve the sauce on the side.