writer + artist

How to Plan a Swedish Midsummer Dinner

with 3 comments

Swedish midsommar is the celebration of the summer solstice, a time to honor the endless hours of daylight.

I often get asked what to do for midsummer. There’s no one “right” way to celebrate midsummer, although there are a few common foods and activities that tend to be involved (like putting up a midsummer pole and singing and dancing).

Above all, midsummer is a celebration of the season, a time to take a break, be with friends, indulge in good food and honor the beginning of summer days.

For me, food is at the center of midsummer. It’s a time to showcase seasonal abundance; strawberries, fresh herbs and produce. If you’re looking to host your own midsummer dinner this year (the main event is midsummer eve, this year on Friday June 22nd), here are a few tips and food ideas.

Eat outside

If it’s not raining, then midsummer dinner definitely needs to be outside. Even if you need to wrap yourself in a wool sweater and blanket, the meal is extra special when it’s served outdoors.

Decorate with flowers and leaves

Take some time to forage for wildflowers, grasses and branches. Freshly gathered greenery can be placed in jars and vases, or also used to make crowns. Remember to be respectful of the environment when picking.

Go a little above and beyond

A midsummer dinner doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, but it’s nice to make a little extra effort than your average dinner. It’s a celebration after all. Honor the small details, like setting the table with a tablecloth, putting out the nice wine glasses, spreading a few small candles on the table.

Seasonal food

Common foods and flavors on the midsummer table are pickled herring, potatoes, sour cream, dill, salmon, strawberries, cheese, and an assortment of breads. I like to do a variety of small dishes, so that there’s a little bit of everything. There are no “right” recipes for midsummer, basically anything that showcases seasonal produce is a good bet. Can you grill something? Of course. Can you set out a bunch of salads? Definitely. Will a quiche be a good thing to add to the table? Why not! But you better be sure to serve strawberries for dessert.

Don’t forget the drinks

This is the time for aquavit. There are plenty of places to get this in the US, including a lot of US distilleries that now make aquavit, some favorites include Old Ballard Liquor Co. and Bull Run. You can also kick off the evening with a celebratory summer cocktail. Try mixing white wine, elderflower or strawberry cordial and sparkling water for a summer spritzer. Or here is a fun cocktail using aquavit that my friend Jacob Grier makes: the Dill Collins.

A few things that I love to have on the midsummer table:

Want more Swedish recipes?

I have many more in my books Fika The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break and a few in Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way. Here are a few others that I recommend wholeheartedly:

Smörgåsbord: The Art of Swedish Bread and Savory Treats by Johanna Kindvall

Fire and Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking by Darra Goldstein

Any of the Scandi Kitchen books by Bronte Aurell – ScandiKitchen Summer is great for this time of year

Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann

I have also made a zine about Swedish midsummer that you can download, print, and fold at home

Written by Anna Brones

June 21, 2018 at 09:18

Posted in Food + Recipes

3 Responses

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  1. I just love this! It reminds of my childhood in Iowa, celebrating with these very same dishes. No matter what your heritage, the Swedish Midsommar is an amazing tradition to celebrate if you have the chance. BTW – the Art of the Coffee Break is one of my faves! Thank you Anna!

    Suzie F

    June 22, 2018 at 05:41

    • Thanks Suzi! It’s true that food has such connections to memories, doesn’t it?

      Anna Brones

      June 22, 2018 at 08:13

  2. […] midsummer has passed, inspiring ways to celebrate the warmer […]

    Reading List (26/6)

    June 26, 2018 at 03:52

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