Smoked salmon pie (Sveas laxpaj) with beetroot & blue cheese salad

This is perfect summery picnic food as it’s almost more delicious cold than hot. Smoked salmon pie is my farming gran Svea’s recipe, but it’s been quite changed here to adapt for what’s available in England. It is still delicious, though. Large cubes of gravad lax is too expensive in London to make pie out of – or to be eaten by students full stop – so we made it with sainsbury’s smoked salmon trimmings instead. The pie crust was the same as we made here, whilst really it should be a Swedish version which isn’t rough puff. We also made it healthier by changing the 3 dl cream for some reduced fat creme fraiche (as I’ve established with my Danish friend Kristine, the current trend of healthy Scandi cooking doesn’t change the fact that all our favourite Scandinavian dishes involve heaps of cream and butter). The result is a pie which doesn’t kill your heart, and doesn’t set you back more than £4. This size fed three medium-hungry girls, plus made it neatly into my lunchbox the following day.

To make this you need

  • Puff pastry as described in this post (it’s a good idea to make lots the one time you make it and then keep in the freezer (portion-sized) until you feel like making some pastry again – as we did with this pie). If you are being lazy you could of course also make do with the pastry you get in the shop, but that’s less fun.
  • 2 packets of Sainsbury’s basic responsibly sourced smoked salmon trimmings (these are only £1 each but very smoky so you don’t need more than two for the flavour. But a third probably wound’t do it any harm)
  • 1 pot of creme fraiche
  • A dash of milk
  • 1 onion
  • 3 eggs
  • Pepper and salt to taste (be careful with the salt though as the salmon is pretty salty as it is)
  • Dill – dried is fine.

It’s rather quick to make too! Start with putting your oven to 190 degrees, butter up the form your pie will be in – this can be a spring form but a clay one works fine too – and use a rolling pin to make your pastry into a square on a floured surface. Place the pastry into the form and prickle the bottom with it with a fork. Put it to a side, and slice the onion thinly, letting it yellow but not brown in some oil or butter on the stove. Mix the eggs with one tub of creme fraiche and add the smoked salmon trimmings. Add plenty of dried or fresh dill, and salt and pepper to taste. When you’ve got the perfect creamy-smoky mix, pour it into the form (having first scattered the yellowed onions at the bottom) and put in the oven. Keep it there for about 30 minutes or until it starts to brown. Let it cool off  a little and then cut into squares for serving.

This pie works very well with a simple, sweet but savoury beetroot & blue cheese salad:

For this you need:

  • 5-6 beetroots. These are amazing to get fresh when they are in season, as they tend to taste a bit more earthy off-season. If you get them fresh, remember to cut off the leaves and either toss them into this salad too or save them, as they go very well in this salad.
  • 1 pack of blue cheese. My preference is as always St. Agur, however a cheap stilton would also cut it.
  • Optional: some green salad leaves, halves cherry tomatoes, chopped coriander.

Peel and cut the beetroots into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Boil in lightly salted water until they have softened, if they are fresh this shouldn’t take more then 30 minutes, but if they are out of season ones it can take considerably longer. Once they are done, drain them, and let them cool off slightly whilst you cut the blue cheese into small chunks. Chuck together in a bowl whilst the beetroots are still warm and serve straight away. You can opt for adding some more salad-y stuff, but as a side salad it’s really simple and beautiful just as it is.

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