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Focus on Food

“Midsommar” in the Pines

Scandi-style potato salad for summertime festivities

Story and Photograph by Rose Shewey

Midsummer, which marks the longest day and shortest night of the year, is quite possibly the least eventful, most anticlimactic holiday in our neck of the woods. With our proximity to the equator, we gain a modest three hours of daylight in the first part of the year until we hit the summer solstice, and an imperceptible reversal begins. On the bright side, quite literally, our winters are sufficiently sunlit to stave off any form of seasonal depression, so we have that going for ourselves.

Meanwhile, midsummer is nothing short of spectacular in other parts of the world — above the Arctic Circle and the northernmost parts of Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska never lose daylight during this time of the year. In my home pastures of Germany, the sun doesn’t set until almost 10 p.m. during the summer months.

Even though midsummer, or “midsommar,” as it is known throughout northern Europe, has been celebrated in many cultures across the globe, Sweden, Norway and Denmark take the cake when it comes to honoring this day. City dwellers will migrate to the countryside. There will be picnics, bonfires and nights reveling under the open sky; girls will wear flower crowns and dance around the midsommar pole into the wee hours.

At the mention of Sweden, if anything in terms of food comes to mind, it’s usually “Köttbullar” — Swedish meatballs. In part, this is owed to the blue- and yellow-logoed furniture chain that popularized this dish throughout the world. Sweden has many other national delicacies on the menu, though. Especially popular during the summertime is potato salad seasoned with dill pesto. With an abundance of dill, which grows rampantly in northern Europe, and coastal areas supplying fresh fish, it’s a logical step to mince dill into pesto and get creative with it. Dill has a brilliantly fresh, citrusy aroma that pairs incredibly well with seafood — but also makes a stunningly flavorful potato salad.

So, whether you add smoked salmon to this dill pesto potato salad or serve it with boiled eggs as a light lunch or dinner, it has the potential of becoming your new summertime (or year-round) favorite.

Dill Pesto Potato Salad

(Serves 4, as a side dish)


18 ounces cooked new potatoes (skin on)

1 bunch fresh dill

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled

3/4 cup walnuts, almonds or pignolias, chopped

Dash of lemon juice

2 ounces Västerbotten cheese (or Parmesan), grated

80-120 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil


Remove tough stems from the dill, discard the stems and add dill to a food processor together with garlic, nuts and lemon juice. Chop roughly, then add cheese and a little bit of olive oil at a time and pulse until you have a thick paste. Add more olive oil for a smoother, sauce-like pesto. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and pesto. Mix until potatoes are well coated and serve right away.   PS

German native Rose Shewey is a food stylist and food photographer. To see more of her work visit her website,