Most importantly, Memorial Day is a chance to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and safety. The holiday weekend also marks the unofficial start of summer—warm days by the lake and time spent with family. Burgers and brats are popular standbys for the season’s first picnic, but there are many other easy-to-prepare (and eat) options that feature the region’s fresh produce.

Appetizer Recipes

Breaded Morels

Morels can be tricky to find, but if you’ve been lucky enough to hunt some down this year, show off your scavenging skills. This delicious appetizer uses just a few basic pantry ingredients, letting the mushroom really shine.

Blanched Asparagus with Three Aiolis

When fresh produce starts to hit the grocery shelves, it is a sure sign of the start of summer. Asparagus is one of the first vegetables to be harvested and is often ready by the end of May, making it great for a Memorial Day picnic. This recipe also offers options for a large group, with three easy, yet interesting, aioli dips.

Salad Recipes

Cucumber and Red Pepper Salad

It doesn’t get any easier than this: chop veggies, sprinkle with salt and pepper, tada!

Strawberry Salad with Honey Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Strawberries may not quite be ready from local farms, but it’s hard to pass up this refreshingly delicious salad.

Main Dish Recipes

Jamaican Jerk Turkey Burgers with Tropical Fruit Salsa

Memorial Day weekend is often the first time the grill is cleaned and fired up for the season. You can’t go wrong with traditional burgers, but with the right spices, you can’t beat these turkey burgers. Using papaya and mango, this fun dish adds flare to the traditional summer picnic.

Moroccan Spiced Portobello Burgers with Cucumber Raita

Burgers are an American classic and the perfect picnic food to enjoy by the lake. This burger, made with tasty portobello mushrooms and unique spices, is a great option for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The cucumber raita, made with Greek yogurt, adds just the right amount of freshness to the dish.

Beef Ribs with Beefy Onion BBQ Glaze

Why not make your Memorial Day picnic a rib fest? This recipe lets the oven do most of the work so you won’t be stuck all day at the grill.

Side Dish Recipes

Mediterranean Couscous

Pasta salads are always popular, but couscous updates the conventional side dish. As an added bonus, this flavorful salad is served at room temperature, making it the perfect side to bring to a picnic.

Basil Deviled Eggs

Who doesn’t love deviled eggs?! This classic side dish is easy to make and take.

Dessert Recipes

Norwegian Strawberries ‘n’ Cream Waffle Cones

Norwegians make their own cone-shaped, cardamom-flavored waffle cookies for this dessert. We took a shortcut and bought waffle cones at a local ice cream shop, then added the cardamom to the whipped cream.

Strawberry Cream Pie
Wendy Friske’s strawberry cream pie is a beloved dessert that has made decades of appearances at Friske family gatherings. Make it a part of your tradition.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski