Crème de la crème, Part IV

This post featuring favorite summer dishes wraps up my 10th anniversary series on the best of The Everyday French Chef. And I have to say that, given the bounty of the season, it was hard to choose one special dish to highlight. My first thought was ratatouille, the ever-so-French veggie dish from Provence, made even more famous by the Disney film starring a gourmet Parisian rat. But in the end the winner is (drumroll, please)…

Grand aïoli / Cod with vegetables and garlic mayonnaise

I chose this dish because it combines so many foods I love — cod, steamed veggies, eggs and, especially, the intensely flavorful aïoli sauce, in which an olive-oil mayonnaise is infused with garlic. The name of the game here is variation. In addition to the veggies pictured above — carrots, potatoes, asparagus, chickpeas and cherry tomatoes — typical ingredients include sea snails (bulots), green beans, finocchio, artichokes and cauliflower. As for the fish, salt cod is traditional — but a lot more work than fresh. So I’ve switched.

Like ratatouille, aïoli is from Provence, which is where I first enjoyed it. This was back in the 1970s at a seaside restaurant outside Marseille, what with the waves lapping at the shore and the cicadas chirping in the summer heat. It’s a great dish for summer because it is served at room temperature. Everything may be prepared in advance and assembled just before serving. All you need to complete the picture is a bottle of chilled dry white or rosé.

And now to my favorite summer dishes, followed by menu suggestions for summer meals.

Assiette de crudités / French vegetable plate
Caviar d’aubergine épicé / Spicy eggplant caviar
Piste de moules à la sétoise / Spicy cocktail mussels

Crème de poivrons rouges / Chilled red pepper soup
Soupe froide de tomates / Chilled tomato soup
Velouté de courgettes épicé / Spicy zucchini soup


Salade d’eté aux figues / Summer salad with fresh figs
Salade mesclun à l’huile de noix  / Salad of mixed greens from Provence
Salade niçoise / Salade niçoise

Oeufs brouillés à la truffe / Scrambled eggs with truffles
Omelette basquaise / Basque omelet
Omelette soufflée / Omelet soufflé from Alsace


Savory tarts and sandwiches
Pan bagnat / Pan bagnat sandwich from Nice
Pastilla / Pastilla
Tarte à la tomate / French tomato tart

Fish and shellfish
Gambas au pastis / Shrimp sautéed in pastis
Petite friture / Fish fry, French style
Tartare de saumon / Salmon tartare


Pintade rôti à la sauge / Roast guinea hen with fresh sage
Poulet grillé en brochette / Grilled chicken brochettes
Rôti de canard au romarin / Rolled roast of duck with rosemary

Meat dishes
Boulettes d’agneau aux herbes / Lamb meatballs with herbs
Paupiettes de veau / Stuffed veal scallops
Petits farcis / Stuffed vegetables from Provence


Beignets de courgettes / Zucchini fritters
Gratin d’aubergines / Eggplant gratin
Ratatouille / Provençal vegetable stew

Pasta and grains
Fusilli aux courgettes / Fusilli with zucchini
Storzapretti / Corsican dumplings in tomato sauce
Torsades au pistou / Summer pasta with French basil sauce


Clafoutis aux cerises / Cherry clafoutis
Fruits d’été au cassis / Summer fruit cup with cassis
Ricotta à la lavande et aux mirabelles / Ricotta with lavender and plums

As an everyday French chef, how would I combine these dishes? Here are some examples.

For an everyday lunch, I might make a pan bagnat sandwich or salade niçoise. Vegetarians might enjoy a tomato tart and a mesclun salad of mixed greens. For vegans, eggplant caviar and zucchini soup. Everyone could follow up with seasonal fruit.

For an everyday dinner, everyone could start with a summer salad with fresh figs. Omnivores could follow with lamb meatballs, vegetarians with eggplant gratin and vegans with … ratatouille! For dessert, a cheese plate or seasonal fruit.

For a weekend dinner, salmon tartare and rolled roast of duck for omnivores, zucchini fritters and Corsican dumplings for vegetarians and chilled red pepper soup and pasta with French basil sauce for vegans. All could follow with a mesclun salad of mixed greens. For dessert, cherry clafoutis or ricotta with lavender and plums for omnivores and vegetarians, and summer fruit cup with cassis for vegans.

Happy summer, and happy cooking!

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3 Responses to Crème de la crème, Part IV

  1. techylist says:

    This is a great post! I love learning about the different French dishes and how to make them.

  2. Tati says:

    Wow! Well that is our family sorted for the summer! Thank you, this is brilliant. I can’t wait to start cooking and enjoying the recipes. With your recipes we will enjoy the all the bounty summer has to offer. Merci!

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