A national holiday, Midsummer is as important to Swedes as Independence Day is to Americans; likewise, its menu includes picnic fare like
gravadlax, cured salmon piled atop rounds of knäckebröd, or seeded crispbread, and comforting dishes for the morning after, such as kropkakkor, hearty potato dumplings stuffed with bacon and onion. Since it is, for many, a day to party, all of these recipes can be washed down with shots of aquavit, Sweden’s most beloved libation. Read more about Midsummer celebrations in Sweden »
Succulent lamb entrecôte, a well-marbled boneless cut from the sirloin, is blanketed in a marinade of garlic, fresh marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and sage, which caramelize to form a flavorful crust as the lamb grills.
This Swedish snack of warm toasted cashews, almonds, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds tossed in a chile-spiked balsamic emulsion is addictive and easy to make. Great eaten out of hand or served on a cheese board alongside sharp Swedish Västerbotten cheese as part of a Midsummer feast.
Get the recipe for Balsamic-Spiced Nuts and Seeds (Heta Nötter) »
Milder than their cousin the onion, shallots are ideal for grilling. For a midsummer cookout in Sweden, home cook Asa Johanson tosses shallots in butter and olive oil, wraps them in foil with dill, and cooks the package slowly on the grill until the shallots soften and caramelize, taking on a deep, sweet flavor.
Dill-and-new-potato salad is an iconic summer food in Sweden. In this version, sautéed kohlrabi, fresh dill, and boiled potatoes are warmed in melted butter to make a simple side dish that’s perfect for picnics and backyard barbecues.
A salt and sugar cure flavored with fresh dill transforms salmon into gravadlax, silky ribbons of fish ready to be piled atop slices of rustic brown bread or crunchy rye crispbread for a Swedish Midsummer feast.
Ground almonds add body and flavor to this creamy Swedish cheesecake. For the Midsummer holiday in late June, Asa Johanson, a gardener and chef on the island of Oland off of Sweden’s southeast coast, serves the cake with clouds of whipped cream and ripe strawberries macerated with fresh mint.
Grilled Vegetable Salad
Ruccolapesto med Cashewnötter (Arugula and Cashew Pesto Salad)
A chunky cashew pesto made with sharp, pungent Västerbotten cheese is tossed with chopped arugula to yield an unctuous salad with a robust umami flavor. Swedish home cook Asa Johanson prepared this nut-enriched side dish for her Midsummer celebration in Vickleby, Sweden.
See the recipe for Ruccolapesto med Cashewnötter (Arugula and Cashew Pesto Salad) »
Puy Lentil Salad (Sallad på Puylinser)
Inlagd Sill (Picked Herring)
Sweet-sour pickled herring, soaked in vinegar spiked with sugar, spices, and aromatics, is one of the crowning glories of the table at Midsummer celebrations in Sweden. Piled atop crispbread and garnished with minced red onion and chives, it’s the ideal foil for shots of aquavit.
See the recipe for Inlagd Sill (Pickled Herring) »
This thick, spicy horseradish sauce enhances all kinds of smoked and cured fish. In Sweden it’s traditionally dolloped over pickled herring, where the creaminess of the sauce offsets the vinegary fish. The combination of sweet-tart fish and assertive sauce is a mainstay of the country’s Midsummer celebrations.
A bright, piquant mustard emulsion is one of several bold sauces that traditionally accompany pickled herring in Sweden. The sweet-tart fish is bathed in the piquant dressing, then heaped atop crunchy crispbread and devoured—ideally between shots of aquavit, especially at Swedish Midsummer celebrations.
This rustic whole wheat brown bread is sweetened with molasses and loaded with almonds and diverse seeds. Dense and nutty, it’s delicious smeared with sweet butter or as the basis for an open-face sandwich topped with sharp cheese, cucumber, and a juicy slice of tomato.
This crackerlike Swedish bread made with sesame and sunflower seeds is a crunchy platform for gravadlax or pickled herring.
Kroppkakor, hearty mashed potato dumplings stuffed with an allspice-laden filling of bacon and onion, are a specialty of Oland, an island off the southern coast of Sweden.
Get the recipe for Swedish Potato Dumplings »