Light and healthy, this open faced sandwich showcases walnuts, honey and creamy Brie

·4-min read
A light and healthy sandwich made with sourdough, walnuts, honey and Brie. — Pictures by CK Lim
A light and healthy sandwich made with sourdough, walnuts, honey and Brie. — Pictures by CK Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — It’s been a week since the New Year’s celebrations. Most of us should have recovered by

now from our revelries and, in some cases, rambunctiousness. But not always.

Sometimes the exhaustion lasts longer, perhaps from the sheer effort of navigating whatever new trials life throws in our path. There are no hangover cures for this sort of malaise.

Times like these we need a little pick-me-up that doesn’t come in a shot glass or an order of triple espresso at our nearest coffee shop. Something light and healthy, to restore our nerves and ready us for the days to come.

Sourdough bread is a more digestible option than the traditional rye bread.
Sourdough bread is a more digestible option than the traditional rye bread.

What comes to mind is a Scandinavian open faced sandwich. Called smørrebrød, it’s a staple of the Danish and Norwegian diet. The name comes from smør og brød which means “butter and bread” and indeed, that’s the basic premise.

A slice of buttered bread – which in the Nordic region means rye bread, full of nutritious whole grains and seeds – topped with anything from pickled herring and cold, fresh shrimp to thinly sliced cheese and pork liver pâté.

I love rye bread – it’s also a staple in Bavaria, though the Vollkornbrot there might replace the rye with sunflower seeds instead – but it’s too heavy, too dense for a modest meal.

Baby spinach (left) and Brie (right).
Baby spinach (left) and Brie (right).
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.

Which is the same reason the thought of oily fish such as sardines or hard cheeses such as Cheddar isn’t particularly comforting. We want a more delicate bite.

So instead of rye, let’s go with an airier slice of sourdough (fermented so it’s more digestible). Instead of Cheddar, a softer cheese such as Brie. Rather than smoked eel or gravlax, let’s scatter some walnuts, rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.

And here’s the kicker – rather than spreading a thick layer of butter, how about a generous handful of baby spinach? The leaves will be weighed down easily by the Brie and walnuts so there’s no danger of things falling apart.

A drizzle of runny honey completes the dish with some necessary sweetness.
A drizzle of runny honey completes the dish with some necessary sweetness.
An open faced sandwich tantalises the senses with its visuals.
An open faced sandwich tantalises the senses with its visuals.

But something’s missing. This sandwich – no longer a true smørrebrød (though still owing its inspiration to the original) – needs something to sweeten the deal. A drizzle of runny honey, then, perfectly pairing with the Brie and walnuts.

Here’s a light, healthy bite as promised, and one that envisions sweeter days to come in the year ahead.

WALNUT, HONEY AND BRIE OPEN FACED SANDWICH

Consider this a framework for an open faced sandwich. Make use of what you have at hand.

If you don’t have baby spinach, some arugula would work nicely with its spicy notes. No Brie? Other soft cheeses that would work well include Camembert, feta and even goat cheese.

Macadamias and almonds can be employed instead of walnuts; hazelnuts and pistachios too. Instead of honey, a dollop of homemade fruit compote might be just the thing, marrying the sweetness with a nice hit of tanginess.

And if you’re feeling sprightly and not at all fatigued by last weekend’s festivities, then do give rye bread a try: there’s a reason why it’s the original bread of choice for the smørrebrød. Chewy, dense, full of flavour – it’s absolutely delicious.

Ingredients

1 slice sourdough bread

1 clove of garlic

A handful of baby spinach (or other leafy greens of choice)

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Brie or other soft cheese, cut into 6 small squares

6 walnuts

Runny honey

Method

Toast a slice of sourdough bread. While still hot, rub the clove of garlic on one side of the toast, the way you would for bruschetta.

Toss the rinsed and dried baby spinach lightly with the olive oil, salt and black pepper. Layer on top of the slices of bread. Place the squares of Brie on top of the baby spinach; top with one walnut per square.

Drizzle with some runny honey. Sprinkle some extra salt and black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

For more Weekend Kitchen and other slice-of-life stories, visit lifeforbeginners.com.

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