This salad is almost certainly not Norwegian. And frankly, it’s barely a salad.
Well, maybe I’m being too harsh. “Salad” is a term so broad that it’s basically lost all meaning; this, this, this and this all technically qualify, even though they’ve got nothing in common beyond the fact that a) they don’t require a knife to eat, b) they’re served cold or at room temperature, and c) they’ve all got some kind of dressing.
Except sometimes salads have leaves big enough to require knives, sometimes potato and pasta salads are served warm, and sometimes salads (like that fruit one) don’t have dressing — because, again, “salad” is an all-purpose word that can be used to describe pretty much any combination of ingredients.
So with that in mind, perhaps Norwegian Salad does look like what we usually talk about when we talk about salad. There are raw vegetables here, perhaps more than in any other Nonnie recipe; there’s a protein, and a vinaigrette, and it’s served cold.
The strikes against it: Those vegetables are layered in a mold; there’s a coating of mayo between each layer; oh, and the vinaigrette is blocked from reaching the rest of the ingredients by a stiff, starchy potato blockade.
The strangest part of all? I Googled Nonnie’s recipe, and apparently this weirdo concoction is supposed to be a “one-dish meal” that’s perfect to pack “next time you go boating, to the beach or picknicking [sic].”
I can see it now:
“Oo, you brought a cooler to the beach! What’s in there?”
“You know, just some raw cauliflower, mayonnaise and canned fish.”
“How exotic! How appropriate!”
I’m really selling it, right? Anyway: Here is the second-worst thing I’ve made from Nonnie’s cookbook. Enjoy!
Norwegian Salad; main text Nonnie’s, italicized asides my own
2 tins sardines, drained
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced [Or less, if yours, like mine, is an enormous monster; I didn’t want the salad to be onion city, so I tried to use just enough to make a decent-sized layer]
1 cup raw cauliflower [For me, that was about 1/4 of a small head]
1/2 cup mayonnaise [Whoops! I definitely didn’t use this much, because I only just realized that a specific amount is listed. Instead, I just smeared little bits of mayo into the salad, as the recipe instructs; I’m not sure how much ended up in there, but it can’t have been more than a few tablespoons, tops]
Cherry tomatoes, halved [I used one pint]
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
1 lb. small potatoes, cooked, diced, and marinated in dressing [Another mistake! I used Yukon Golds, because I prefer their flavor; I should have used red-skinned potatoes, though, because the Yukons don’t hold their shape particularly well if you cut them after boiling them until they’re tender. Instead of tidy cubes of potato, I ended up with something a little looser — which tasted good, but wasn’t particularly pretty. Not that any of it is particularly pretty, but… you know.]
In a 2 quart bowl, layer sardines, tomatoes, pepper slices, onion slices, cucumber, cauliflower, and potatoes — putting a little mayonnaise between each vegetable.
Pour vinaigrette from potatoes over all. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. To serve, invert onto lettuce.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar [Leave this out; you don’t need it]
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup oil
Combine mustard, lemon juice, and sugar in a small bowl; add oil, in a stream, whisking vigorously and constantly. Whisk until dressing is smooth. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3/4 cup.
The verdict: This isn’t really bad, per se; it’s certainly more edible than Nonnie’s eggplant caviar, which is still the worst thing I’ve made from her cookbook so far.
But, spoiler alert: I can’t exactly recommend in good conscious that you make it yourself. Especially if you happen to be Norwegian. (If you are: I’m sorry for what America has done to your culture.)
The ingredients just don’t make a ton of sense together, and there’s not enough dressing to give them the zip they’d need to be more than a pile of raw grocery store castoffs slicked with mayonnaise. (Although that might be partially my fault, since my chosen potatoes absorbed more dressing than the correct type would have.)
So yeah: These things are all decent alone. Together, though, they’re less than the sum of their parts. If this was a salad in the ’70s, maybe that explains why Americans didn’t eat more salad.