December 11, 2011

Finnish Christmas with a Twist: Lanttulaatikko - Swede Casserole

It still hasn't hit me that Christmas is only two weeks away! I haven't bought a single present yet and there is hardly any evidence of the silly season in our home. I only took out a couple of Finnish Christmas decorations because they happened to be in a box I was emptying after we moved in. There will be no tree and certainly no lights wrapped around the balcony rail. I'm not anti-Christmas, mind you, it just happens that in my mind, Summer and Christmas don't mix so well. 

In an attempt to bring in some Christmas spirit, however, I thought I'd share at least a couple of traditional Finnish Christmas recipes, with a twist, here on the blog. The first one, swede casserole, is one of my all time favourites, but of course I've tweaked the recipe a little bit. This dish would be served with a few other casseroles at every Finnish Christmas table as a side dish to ham, fish or other meats. In our household it's a meal on its own, served perhaps with a fresh salad on the side.

To make this dairy-free, I've used almond milk instead of cream and replaced the bread crumbs with almond meal in the casserole and on top. I've used traditional spices like white pepper, nutmeg and ginger, but I couldn't help adding just a touch of that delicious ground licorice in the mix as well. Turns out it goes so well with the sweet swede. 

Hope you like it!

Swede casserole

1 kg peeled and chopped swedes (rutabaga)
4 tablespoons almond meal
6 tablespoons almond milk (my recipe here)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground licorice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1 large egg (organic, free-range)
 3 tablespoons almond meal, extra, for topping

1. Place the swedes in a large casserole and top with water. Bring the water to boil and let it simmer until the swedes are completely cooked tender. Drain (but save the water to make vegetable stock!) and set aside to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. Mash the swedes and add in all other ingredients. Scoop the mixture into a lightly oiled oven dish and top with the extra almond meal. 

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole feels firm to touch and is browned on the edges. Serve as a vegetarian dish on its own or as a side dish.