Summer in the South of France is a delicious experience. The markets abound with fresh, fragrant produce and there is slow pace to life. Let yourself be lulled by the hum of cicadas that ease you from a long lunch to an early apéritif before dinner. The dishes are light and colorful, filled with the flavors of the season. Here are 25 Easy French Summer Dishes you can make at home.
I have been writing French Riviera Recipes for years and I am thrilled to share with you my favorite summer recipes to bring a bite of La Cote D'Azur to your table, where ever you are. Starting with L'Apéro (or cocktail hour) and then listing appetizers, salads, main dishes and desserts, you will find everything you need to prepare a delicious French Summer Menu.
L'Apéro (Welcome Cocktail):
L'Apéro is one of my favorite summer activities. Usually l'apéro is cocktails or wine with little nibblies to whet the appetite that are served when you are welcoming guests. It is also wonderful when you want to stretch those delicious hours of the early evening with your family. My kids love to make an "Apéro". It is a fun activity for them and they love to pick their snack foods. I have written more about the art of the Apéro in this blog post
Piscine Pêche One sip of this cocktail immediately brings me back to beach days on the French Riviera. There are many variations of the now famous “Piscine”, but the one that Le Chef and I prefer is best enjoyed at this time of year, when ripe peaches are in abundance and the weather is sizzling hot. The addition of rosemary gives the cocktail a certain “je ne sais quoi” that I can’t get enough of.
I also like to serve a Martini blanc, an Aperol Spritz or a glass of Rosé with l'apéro.
Authentic Olive Tapenade- a delicious spread of olives, garlic, capers and anchovies.
Fresh Baked Baguette - Deliciously simple yet crusty and crackly, homemade French Baguettes. Follow this recipe for easy French Baguettes even first time bakers can make.
25 Easy French Summer Dishes : Starters, Sides, Soups & Salads
Appetizers and Side Dishes:
Here are some fresh, summer dishes to inspire you. Whether you are serving an individually plated meal or putting big plates in the center of the table for everyone to share.
Simple Confit Bayaldi - a beautifully presented French Riviera slow cooked vegetarian dish using the same ingredients as a Ratatouille. A perfect example of French Riviera cooking. Confit Bayaldi uses simple, fresh ingredients (tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, olives), beautifully displayed to create a dish that is memorable and full of flavor but is also surprisingly healthy
5 minute Simple Basil Pesto Recipe - add a burst of summertime flavor to your dishes. This recipe can be made in minutes and reminds me of my French Grandmother-in-law, Pierrette. This is her recipe.
French Summer Soups
La Soupe au Pistou - a hearty yet summery vegetarian bean soup packed with vegetables, pasta and LOTS of basil. The perfect meal in a bowl , ideal meal prep to get you through the week.
Ratatouille Soup with homemade pesto - Ratatouille soup with homemade pesto is very healthy and delicious vegetarian soup. Full of Provençal flavors with peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and onions
French Summer Salads
La Salade Niçoise - Here is an authentic, tasty French Salade Niçoise recipe that you will love! One of my all-time favorite salads that is full of protein (eggs, tuna and possibly sardines) and with lots of good veggies. Butter lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, artichokes, fava beans, radishes and basil. It is simple to make yet impressive to serve and is perfect for picnics or long lunches in the sun.. Serve with a fresh baked baguette and a glass of Rosé for the perfect French Riviera lunch.
La Salade Tropezienne - Do you want to learn to make a salad that looks, and tastes like it comes from a Michelin starred restaurant in the South of France? Let's do it! Here is a step by step guide to making La Salade Tropezienne - a fancy Shrimp, Peach and Goat Cheese salad with a Rosé Vinaigrette inspired by Saint-Tropez
Vegetarian Summer Salads
Fig & Goat Cheese Salad - This Fresh Fig and Goat Cheese salad is UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. The beauty of the fresh figs, the soft decadence of the goat cheese, the sweetness of the honey dressing. YUM! Serve as light lunch with a fresh baked baguette and glass of Rosé, or with the cheese course.
La Salade Mentonnaise - La Salade Mentonnaise is a delicious fennel, orange and artichoke salad with pine nuts and a citrus vinaigrette. Perfect with grilled fish.
Fennel and Tomato Salad - A fresh, crunchy and satisfying summer salad with just 2 ingredients - raw fennel and tomatoes! The perfect side to serve with grilled meat or on its own as a light summer salad.
Tomato Burrata with Basil and Orange Zest - A fresh twist on a familiar favorite - this Tomato Burrata Salad recipe with basil and orange zest is beautiful to serve and has a delicious, decadent flavor from the creamy burrata and the orange zest that will surprise and delight.
Roasted Plum, Goat Cheese & Lemon Thyme Salad - This salad is a meal in a bowl and has all the textures and tastes I crave in a perfect summer dish. A rich meatiness from the roasted plums and crunch from the toasted almonds and pine nuts. A tangy zing from the lemon thyme and lime zest. Indulgent creaminess from the fresh goat cheese and that little touch of “oh la la” from the Prosecco & honey citrus vinaigrette
Taboulé du Marché - Market Taboulé Salad - Taboulé is a summer salad that is synonymous with eating on the go or "sur le pouce" in France. A fresh blend of cous cous, summer vegetables and herbs that is a delicious meal in a bowl.
25 Easy French Summer Dishes : Mains
French Fish and Seafood Main Dishes
Branzino with Vierge Sauce - Delicate Branzino with a bright vinaigrette of tomatoes, olives and basil give a Provençal twist to your dish. Super simple yet impressive! A delicious Mediterranean Diet dish.
Le Grand Aïoli - Le Grand Aïoli. This classic dish is everything I love about summer dining in the South of France. A sophisticated take on a dipping platter with summer vegetables, seafood and a delicious homemade garlicky mayonnaise. Each individual ingredient shines beautifully and the presentation is artful yet casual. Perfect for a luxurious picnic or a long lunch outdoors accompanied by chilled glasses of Provençal Rosé
Seared Scallops & Leeks in White Wine - Pan Seared Scallops and Leeks in White Wine make for a delicious French-inspired dish. The buttery taste of the scallops pairs beautifully with the slight tang of leeks. This dish is super simple to make and yet is impressive to serve.
French Main Dishes with Meat
Les Petits Farcis Niçois - Step by step instructions to make my favorite French Riviera dish. Les Petits Farcis Niçois, just like my French Mamie. This comforting dish is rich and hearty with fresh summer vegetables stuffed with fragrant sausage - a delicious showstopper! Perfect to serve for a French dinner party.
Simple Rosemary Roast Rack of Lamb and Potatoes - A rosemary roast rack of lamb is a luxurious and delicious dish that is surprisingly easy to cook! The fragrance of the rosemary cooked with the lamb is absolutely irresistible. Your guests will know they are in for a treat the moment they catch the scents wafting from the kitchen.
Rack of lamb can be expensive to buy, so I understand that cooking it can be intimidating - especially when it is for a special occasion. Have no fear - I will walk you through, step by step, how we roast a rack of lamb in Le Chef's household.
25 Easy French Summer Dishes : Desserts
French Desserts that can be prepared in advance
La Crème Brûlée - There is Crème Brûlée, and then there is Le Chef's Crème Brûlée. A rich, decadent and silky smooth cream, flecked with fragrant vanilla bean and a crisp, crackly top that shatters into sugar shards when you break into it. This crème brûlée is absolute perfection - and is easier than you think to make a home. Are you ready to learn how to make Crème Brûlée like a French Chef?
Mousse au Chocolat - French mousse au chocolat (Chocolate Mousse) will become your family's favorite dessert. A Rich dark chocolate flavor with a light, airy texture and a depth of flavor from the spices. This recipe takes less than a half hour to make (plus a few hours to chill) and can be made in advance. No one can resist an "mmmmm" when eating this Mousse!
The Best Lemon Sugar Crêpes Recipe - Here is the best, and easiest, Lemon Sugar Crêpes recipe. You can have that French Crêperie experience at home, where ever you live in the world. The zing of the lemon matched with the sweetness of the sugar and the heavenly buttery richness of the Crêpe is the perfect combination
French Desserts that need to be made right before serving
Soufflé au Chocolat - The best, no fail recipe for a Chocolate Soufflé! Learn to make this impressive, decadent, lighter-than-air dessert at home with tips from Le Chef.
Moelleux au Chocolat - Le Chef's Moelleux au chocolat recipe makes for a romantic dark chocolate cake that is rich on the outside and decadently gooey on the inside- positively oozing with dark chocolate. Moelleux au chocolat (translation: soft chocolate) is also known as a chocolate lava cake or as a mi-cuit au chocolat. The perfect dessert to make for the one you love.
Please let me know if you are making one of these 25 easy french summer dishes. I love to hear from you!
Le Chef's Wife