Easy Elegant Cucumber Sandwiches for Picnics
Summer for me means picnics. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. Finding that idyllic spot – on the green grass by the water, under the shade of a tree with dappled sunshine, puffy white clouds in the big blue sky above – surrounded by friends and those we love to spend time with. The picnic blanket laid out with food everyone has brought, drinking prosecco, munching on cucumber sandwiches and yummy nibbles for hours, talking and laughing as the hours slip by. Dusk falls, the moon comes out, we continue into the night, until someone finally points out that maybe we should start heading home. Honestly it’s one of the perfect, most relaxing and joyful ways to spend summer days.
Putting together a picnic should be pretty easy. When each person contributes, it ends up being fairly effortless. Picnic blanket, glasses, plates, napkins, wine opener, stopper, a couple of small knives, drinks, food – you don’t need much else. I’m such a picnic addict, I have most of the basics in my apartment usually, and some of my friends actually call me a professional picnicker! NYC is an easy place to do picnics and I do them all summer long, in between the out-of-city getaways.
We pick up a baguette, crackers, some favorite soft and hard cheeses (brie, morbier, sottocenere, manchego,…), pate, fruits, prosecco, wine,… Friends bring an assortment of food and drinks too. I usually also like to bring along my favorite picnic staple for years – cucumber sandwiches!
Cucumber sandwiches are the perfect picnic food. Light and easy to carry, tasty, cool in the heat and easy on the stomach when you’re sitting outside for hours, good non-messy finger food for eating at a picnic with individual portions for each person. And so dainty and elegant too!
It’s also super easy to make. You just need cucumber, bread, butter, salt and pepper. It doesn’t take much time to put together, I usually make it an hour before leaving the apartment.
The recipe here is my mom’s. She used to make it when I was a kid, and I’ve loved these little dainty crustless triangular sandwiches ever since. We would go for very elaborate picnics back when I was a child. The entire day’s menu would be planned and prepared ahead of time, from the main picnic meal to cold drinks in coolers, to afternoon snacks and hot tea carried in thermoses. We lived in the southern part of Bangladesh back then and would drive to the hills of Bandarban. It was nice and cool in the hills and the views would be lovely. A whole bunch of friends and relatives would come along, we’d have a number of cars in the entourage, and it would be a whole day’s affair. Those were magical memorable times, and I think I must have developed my love for picnics from those wonderful childhood ones.
My mom would make these cucumber sandwiches at home too. They’re perfect for afternoon tea as well. So you could make these tea sandwiches at home, or enjoy them outdoors when you picnic.
Easy Elegant Cucumber Sandwiches for Picnics
YIELDS: 20 small triangular sandwiches
- 1-2 cucumbers (depends on the size)
- 1 loaf white “sandwich” bread, sliced
- Butter, good quality, at room temperature
- Black pepper, freshly ground
Note: I use Pepperidge Farm brand white sandwich bread for these. One 16 oz package has 20 slices of bread, which yields 20 small triangular sandwiches.
- Pile 4 slices of bread on top of each other, make sure they’re lined up properly. Taking a sharp knife, slice off the edges/crusts.
- Using good quality butter at room temperature, butter each slice on one side.
- Peel cucumber. Using a sharp knife, slice the cucumber into thin slices. The slices shouldn’t be thick, but shouldn’t be so thin that they are translucent.
- Arrange 4 slices of cucumber on a slice of bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Arrange another 4 slices of cucumber on top of these slices, and sprinkle the second layer with salt and pepper.
- Put a slice of bread on top, buttered side down. Cut diagonally in half. so that you’ll now have 2 triangular sandwiches.
- Repeat to make the remaining sandwiches.
To carry the sandwiches to the picnic, I line a large tupperware container with 2 layers of paper towels. I put the sandwiches in, and then put another layer of paper towel across the top before covering the container. This helps hold the sandwiches in place, and also prevents them from getting soggy. I leave the container top open until I’m ready to leave for the picnic.