Picnic Basket + Fresh Local Ingredients = Summer Serenity

Summer is the best time of year to pack up some of your favorite salads, snacks, sandwiches and fruit and head out for a picnic. A humid summer breeze, paired with the chameleon-like Door County summer fields and a sunny day motivate me to pack up lunch or early dinner, grab a book, blanket and good company for some culinary-minded rest and relaxation.

Door County’s deli and artisan food eateries are plentiful. I love the fact you can stop by a smokehouse and pick up a piece of locally caught and smoked whitefish or salmon. Stop in at any one of the awesome bakeries that dot the peninsula and pick up a delicious freshly-baked loaf of bread. Delis are available in almost every Door County village or town, making it easy to stock up for an impromptu picnic, and many of them use locally-grown ingredients in the offerings. Orchards and roadside stands offer fresh-picked seasonal fruit:  berries, apples, pears and more.

And don’t forget the cheese! We are blessed with fromageries featuring Wisconsin artisan cheese in Door County – most wanting you to sample the product as you shop (my favorite part!). Although this very European shopping strategy – bouncing from shop to shop for this and that – takes extra time, I guarantee you will have the opportunity to purchase the best Door County has to offer.

On the occasions you have time to prepare and plan for your outing, I highly recommend using the same shopping strategy mentioned above for your picnic ingredients. I like to keep the menu simple when packing for a picnic:  fresh made sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, smoked fish, cheese with crackers or bread, possibly a little something sweet. Picnics are like camping for me – food always tastes better when eaten outdoors under the big blue sky and sunshine.

Here are three simple sandwich recipes to enjoy on your picnic outings.

Garden Fresh Tomato Basil Sandwich

Len Villano






1 crusty baguette

Montchevré goat cheese

handful of fresh basil leaves

2 garden fresh tomatoes, sliced

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Slice the baguette down the middle. Spread the goat cheese on one side of the bread. Place the basil leaves on the cheese. Stack the tomatoes on top of the basil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the other half of bread on the top. Enjoy!

Meg’s Spicy & Crunchy Fresh Radish Sandwich

Len Villano











fresh garden radishes

wasabi mayonnaise

dark rye bread

pepperjack cheese, sliced

fresh garden cucumber

bunch of arugula

salt and pepper to taste

Slice the radishes to medium thinness. Spread the wasabi mayo lightly on both slices of bread. Stack the ingredients on the bread in this order:  cheese, radish, cucumber, arugula. Salt and pepper to taste.

Muffaletta Sandwich

olive spread (see recipe this page*)

crusty bread

olive oil

baked ham

hard salami

provolone, sliced

mozzarella, sliced

roasted red peppers

giardiniera (optional)

Cut the bread in half. Drizzle each side of the bread with olive oil. Stack the sandwich ingredients in this order, starting at the bottom: olive spread, ham, salami, provolone, mozzarella, roasted red peppers. If you like spicy food you can add giardiniera to either the olive spread or directly to the sandwich with the roasted red peppers.

*Olive Spread

¾ cup of green olives, pitted

¼ cup of kalamata olives, pitted

1 tablespoon of capers

2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 scallion or green onion, chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1-2 tablespoons olive oil, add 1 tablespoon at a time

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley

fresh pepper (olives are salty enough on their own)

Place all ingredients in the food processor long enough to chop and mix. I like my olive spread to have a chunky texture. Make at least a day in advance so flavors meld.

Slice and portion all sandwiches when packing for your picnic. Wrap in parchment or foil. Bon appetit!

Photography by Len Villano.