This is old-school smørrebrød at its best: a creamy, mustardy salad studded with carrots, peas and asparagus and a bit of savory ham along side. So very simple and straightforward. So simple and straightforward, in fact, that I have flipped by it in recipe books for months passing it over because it just didn't seem very exciting. But in the spirit of tackling some of the more classic Nordic open sandwiches, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. This is a serious lunch upgrade from your standard ham sandwich and just a little work to make the Italian Salad which is obviously what makes this smørrebrød so special.
Why is it called Italian Salad? Some say it because the colors are reminiscent of the Italian flag. Others say that is in reference to the European tradition of combining mayonnaise and vegetables. Either way it's delicious. Maybe keep this recipe in mind if you are making a ham for Easter. It would be an excellent way to use up those leftovers!
Italian Salad and Ham Smørrebrød
For the Smørrebrød:
- 4 slices dense rye bread thin slices
- Butter for spreading
- Baby arugula or other small salad greens
- 4 slices ham thinly sliced
- Italian Salad recipe follows
- Chopped chives for serving
For the Italian Salad:
- pinch Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- .5 c frozen peas
- 3 small to medium size carrots peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (about ½ cup)
- 8 thin asparagus spears chopped into 1 inch lengths
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- Combine cold water and several ice cubes in a bowl. Set aside.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add a good sprinkle of salt. Add carrots to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Add asparagus to the boiling water. Cook 2-3 minutes or until just tender (if all you can find is thick asparagus spears, this will take more time). Transfer to the ice bath with the carrots. Add the peas to the boiling water. Cook 1 minute and transfer to the icy water. Drain vegetables.
- In a medium bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard. Add vegetables and gently mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste (you may not need any).
- Transfer bread slices to a work surface. Spread with butter and top with lettuce greens. Add a slice of ham and a generous dollop of the Italian Salad.
- Garnish with chopped chives (parsley or dill would also be nice). Serve.