There’s a wildness to the combined flavors of figs, garlic and mint that I find absolutely irresistible when fresh figs appear in farmers’ markets in midsummer. Add some tender leaves, olive oil and a spritz of balsamic vinegar, and you have a palate-pleasing summer salad that can be ready in a couple of minutes. This salad marries well with proscuitto-style ham or with goat cheese on toast. I tried it both ways during the recent heatwave.
Salade d’été aux figues / Summer salad with fresh figs
Man, was it hot in Paris last week — and this, mes amis, is the future. On Thursday, when the mercury hit 109 F (43 C), I spent a large part of the day immersed in a cold tub, and repaired from there to the local pool, which exceptionally stayed open until 9 p.m. during the three hottest days of the canicule. (This is French for heatwave, and derives from the Latin canis, or dog, which is also at the root of our expression ‘dog days.’)
With more sweltering days to come both in France and elsewhere, here are some dishes you may enjoy despite the heat. Most can be made with a minimum of fuss.
Assiette de crudités / French vegetable plate
Tapenade / Black olive spread from Provence
Soupe de petits pois à la menthe / Fresh pea soup with mint
Soupe froide de tomates / Chilled tomato soup
Salade estivale / Summer salad with melon and bresaola
Salade niçoise / Salade niçoise
Grand aïoli / Cod with vegetables and garlic mayonnaise
Trilogie de coquillages persillés / Shellfish with parsley and garlic
Poulet au miel et au thym / Chicken with honey and thyme
Poulet grillé en brochette / Grilled chicken brochettes
Assiette anglaise / Cold meat plate, French style
Côtelettes d’agneau au romarin / Lamb chops with rosemary
Courgettes sautés à l’ail / Zucchini sautéed with garlic
Tian de légumes d’été / Summer vegetables, Provence style
Pâtes aux tomates, mozzarella et basilic /Pasta with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil
Torsades au pistou / Summer pasta with French basil sauce
Charlotte glacée aux framboises / Iced raspberry charlotte
Fruits d’été au cassis / Summer fruit cup with cassis
Last night I saw my friend Nicole, my inspiration for everyday-style French cuisine and with whom I once cooked at a small Paris bistro. She is taking a cruise to the Arctic later this week. Now that’s smart. I, on the other hand, am heading to Washington, D.C., where the dog days are in full bloom (to mix a metaphor). Yikes!
The Everyday French Chef will return in mid-August.