I’m majorly in the mood for a late summer picnic! We have a great park nearby where we live and in the center is a great pond for swimming and nice little “beach” too. I picnicked there with my good friend and our kids before school let out, and I haven’t been back since. My kids go there several times a week with my husband – lucky kids! I’m ready to go a few more times before it gets cold out. A picnic is the perfect excuse to go. My other good friend, Becky, and I are teaming up to share picnic-friendly foods. She made some pretty darn amazing Quick Pickled Cauliflower (made with everyone’s favorite hot sauce!) And I’m sharing one of our favorite quick lunches that is perfect for picnics – Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches.
A few months ago, I found the most amazing gluten-free rolls I’ve ever tasted in my life. I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a few things and was ravenous. I was grabbing some bread for my kids and I noticed some new-to-me rolls in the gluten-free section. I snagged a few bags to keep in my freezer because I noticed they were big enough to make sandwiches and when I squeezed the bag, they bounced back. Most gluten-free baked goods don’t do that. I tore open one of the bags as soon as I got to the car and took a huge bite. It wasn’t one of those times where I was so hungry anything tasted good – you know how that is? This time it was like I was hungry, but the rolls stopped me dead in my tracks and I realized they were spectacular. Basically, I love these rolls so much I buy a bag whenever I’m at Whole Foods. But I think my fellow gluten-free peeps in Boise have caught on because they sell out all the time. That was the case one particular day when I went in specifically for those rolls. I was so bummed because I had some smoked salmon in my cart (more gushing about that in a second) and really wanted to have a salmon sandwich when I got home.
I had no idea that Kim and Jake’s also made peasant bread. There were a few loaves on the shelf and given how good the rolls are, I decided to give it a try. HOLY MOLY. Their bag made me laugh because it says something like, “Get a tissue handy. You’re gonna need it when you taste how good this bread is.” Not a lie. BEST gluten-free bread ever. (And I special order GF bread from San Francisco sometimes. Ha!) So my lunch became Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches – all inspired by that spectacular bread.
We first started eating open-faced sandwiches when we were in Norway years ago. Eleven years, actually. I can’t believe it’s been that long! Anyway, we loved the sandwiches topped with tiny shrimp or smoked salmon so much. It’s not like it’s difficult to find good salmon in our neck of the woods, but it can be a little more challenging to find those delectable tiny shrimp. They practically melted in our mouths.
The smoked salmon we like is kinda (read: REALLY) pricey, but totally worth the splurge. It’s hot smoked on peach wood. The flavor is spot on. All others cannot even compare. We use the peach wood salmon for applications where the flavor and texture of the fish really matters and use other kinds for things like dip, soup, etc.
Hot smoked is our favorite, but gravalax or cured salmon, also called smoked salmon, will work too. And I suppose you could also use smoked trout too.
My version of open-faced salmon sandwiches includes a herbed cheese spread made with Snøfrisk (a Norwegian fresh cream cheese made with goats’ and cows’ milk), fresh dill and chives, minced shallot, lemon zest, and fresh ground black pepper. I can’t always find the Snøfrisk, so goat cheese or cream cheese work too. If you don’t want to use cream cheese, a slather of good whole grain mustard is fantastic.
You can toast the bread if you want. Some gluten-free bread really benefits from toasting first, but this peasant loaf is so soft it doesn’t need any toasting. Just make sure to use a good smattering of that herbed cheese (or mustard) because it’s incredible. We put a good amount of salmon on each sandwich. One 6-8 ounce package of salmon is perfect for four sandwiches. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of micro-greens and a wedge of fresh lemon.
Best.lunch.ever. And perfect for packing for a picnic. :)
Be sure to check out Becky’s cauliflower pickles. I can’t wait to try her recipe!
- 4 thick slices of peasant bread (I love Kim and Jake's gluten-free loaf)
- 4-5 ounces cream cheese (I used Snøfrisk)
- 2 Tablespoons minced shallot
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped dill
- 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced chives
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- 6-8 ounces hot smoked salmon
- ½ cup micro-greens or sprouts, for garnish
- 4 lemon wedges, for garnish
- In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese with the shallots, herbs, pepper, and lemon zest. Divide evenly between the four slices of bread.
- Gently flake the salmon into big pieces and arrange evenly over the four slices of bread. Top with the micro-greens and serve with a slice of lemon. Enjoy immediately, or wrap well and refrigerate for several hours, or up to one day.