Food + Recipes

New Nordic Diet: Danish Recipes to Make at Home, Including Beetroot Salad and Venison Stew

By Helen Russell 

Recipes and photos by Mia Irene Kristensen

Denmark, a small Nordic nation with a population of just 5.5 million, has been responsible for a worldwide culinary renaissance in recent years.

With its unique coastal climate and distance from the equator, Denmark offers perfect growing conditions for berries, rye, barley and oats, while its waters provide an abundance of seafood. The nation’s proud culinary tradition rests on a distinctive diet and a strong tradition of living off the land. And since 2004, they’ve been sharing this tradition with the rest of the world.

It all started when gastronomic entrepreneur Claus Meyer collaborated with Denmark’s best chefs to formulate the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto, which laid out the guiding principles of NewNordic cuisine. These principles included eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, making the most of food from the sea, eating higher-quality meat (but less of it), foraging where possible and eating organic produce in season. Sounds simple, but the diet made international news with Copenhagen University officially pronouncing it a healthy approach to eating for every population. Now, New Nordic cuisine is no longer confined to fancy restaurants; home cooks have developed a taste for it as well.

“Many people associate New Nordic cuisine with elaborate, experimental and expensive foods, but we want everyone to be able to enjoy it,” says Mia Irene Kristensen, who teaches its techniques in Copenhagen and London. “New Nordic just means living according to the season, eating locally and foraging whenever possible; it’s about taking advantage of nature—in a nice way. It’s something that all of us can do.” Kristensen says that there’s an opportunity to forage wherever you happen to find yourself: “I live in the middle of the city in Copenhagen,” she says, “and have just found some great sloeberries and rose hips. You just need to look around with fresh eyes.”

And once you’ve taken home your foraged finds? Well, then the key is to keep things simple, says Kristensen: “It’s about purity in flavors and combining fresh, high-quality ingredients to create something special.” Here she shares three of her favorite recipes with Skagen.


Beetroot Salad with Horseradish, Dill and Cottage Cheese 

“With crunchy raw beetroot, creamy cottage cheese, pungent horseradish and sweet berries, this dish serves up typical Nordic flavors that are both pure and refreshing,” says Kristensen. Here’s how you can make it at home:

Serves 4

What you need:
4 beets, peeled
50 g/1.8 oz dried cranberries, unsweetened
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
200 g/7.1 oz cottage cheese 
1–4 tsp horseradish, freshly grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh dill, minced, to garnish

How to:
Cut the peeled beets into matchsticks, toss with cranberries, salt and vinegar, then let rest for 10 minutes.

Stir the horseradish into the cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper. 

Finally, garnish the beet mixture with the cottage cheese and sprinkle with plenty of fresh dill.

Venison Stew with Celeriac and Pickled Cauliflower

 “This is a hearty and warming stew that’s surprisingly quick to make,” says Kristensen. “And it’s perfect for guests.”

Serves 4

What you need:
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
75 g/2.6 oz dry-cured bacon chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
300 g/10.6 oz minced venison
½ medium sized celeriac, peeled and diced
200 g/7.1 oz mushrooms such as chanterelles, sliced
4 juniper berries
3–4 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
200 ml/1 cup water
100 ml/½ cup dark beer such as porter 
½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp red currant jelly 
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sides: Fresh bread or boiled barleyy

How to:
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and fry the bacon and onion until golden. Add venison, celeriac and mushrooms, and continue browning for 3–4 minutes.

Pour in beer and add juniper berries and thyme or rosemary sprigs. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 10–15 minutes. 

Add apple cider vinegar, jelly, and season with salt and pepper. he peeled beets into matchsticks, toss with cranberries, salt and vinegar, then let rest for 10 minutes.

Apple Syrup with Fresh Hazelnuts

“This flavorful syrup with hazelnuts and herbs makes a light yet delicious dessert when served on yogurt,” says Kristensen. Here’s how to make it at home:

Serves 4

What you need:
750 ml/3¼ cups apple juice
100 g/3.5 oz hazelnuts copped
10–15 sprigs lemon verbena or thyme
Pinch of sea salt
150 g/5.3 oz honey

How to:
Mix apple juice and hazelnuts in a pan and bring to a boil.

Add lemon verbena or thyme, sea salt and honey, and leave to simmer (without lid) over low heat for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, dip a cold spoon into the syrup and taste it. If you prefer it more concentrated, let it simmer for another hour.

Note: Pour the syrup over your favorite yogurt and serve.


Helen Russellis a journalist and author of The Year of Living Danishly published by Icon Books, January 2014