Salmon Spread — Picnic Fare & Beyond

“The idea of a sandwich as a snack goes back to Roman times. Scandinavians perfected the technique with the Danish open-faced sandwich, or smorroebrod, consisting of thinly sliced, buttered bread and many delectable toppings.” 

― DeeDee Stovel

This summer has been my first experience of taking part as a vendor in a local farmers market hosted in Skandia. Since we own a farm minutes away from the market, I decided to take the plunge. It was intimidating at first, but my nerves were eased the first evening. While I was elated that people purchased my bouquets of fresh flowers, bags of hoop house kale and lettuce, chocolate mint starts, and the charming tote bags my mom lovingly made from recycled feed bags – what brought my heart joy was watching people milling about with their maskless smiles and hearty laughter. Finally, we can take a collective breath and enjoy a bit of normalcy. 

While I know that many may not be fully engulfing themselves into party mode and spending copious time with others, summer is the perfect time for a picnic. If you ask me, the exciting thing about a picnic is that it can be held anywhere. Some of my favorite picnics have been low key and held on the tailgate of my husband’s pickup truck at Glacier National Park, on a rustic table outside a rented cabin in Chicken, Alaska, and in our own backyard in Skandia with our pack of dogs circling the table hoping for a treat. 

This salmon dip, or spread, is simple enough that you could make it while camping or traveling. It is wonderful as a dip for fresh vegetables, tortilla and pita chips,  and is equally divine spread on crackers or a bagel. It is a fantastic dish to bring to a potluck or gathering and you will not have to worry about having leftovers. It serves as a great appetizer, midnight snack, or a luscious option for breakfast. In fact, the inspiration for this recipe is my #1 breakfast option at a favorite travel destination at the Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks, Alaska. The bagel and lox at The Trail’s End Lounge is legendary.


*1 block of cream cheese (room temperature)

*4 oz of smoked salmon (can be found in the deli of most grocery stores)
*1 Tablespoons of chopped onion
*1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon of capers (can be usually found near the olive or pickle section). If you are not a fan of capers you could add olives or dill pickles for that salty touch.
*3 Tablespoons of fresh dill (fresh is best, but in a pinch you can substitute a couple of teaspoons of dried)
*zest and juice of one lemon
*Pepper and salt to taste (since the capers tend to be salty, you will not need to add much salt)

Mix all of the ingredients together. The flavor is best if you let sit for a few hours (or overnight) before serving so the flavors can marry.

If you are making this for a gathering, I recommend doubling or tripling the batch.

While in our house we have been enjoying this dip made with salmon, my husband is known to make it with smoked whitefish as well. Talk about celebrating the beauty of Lake Superior!

Most of all, this recipe is a reminder to make time for a picnic this summer, especially if it means spreading a blanket out in your own backyard and enjoying the world you create. Stop. Appreciate. Breathe.

If you are looking for fresh vegetables to serve with this dish, make sure you check out the various farmers markets in the area. I will be at the Skandia market most Wednesdays from 4-7. I will see you there!


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