What is not to love about French Summer Salads? A beautiful balance of flavors, fresh fruits and vegetables that are juicy and enticing and a gorgeous presentation. The food of the French Riviera is healthy and light, often known as the Mediterranean Diet. This post features eleven creative salad recipes that you will love to make.
One bite of Salad Niçoise transports you to the beach restaurants of Nice overlooking the Mediterranean sea, where you are served La Salade Niçoise with a chilled glass of rosé. A taste of La Salade Mentonnaise and you can imagine yourself in the French countryside, in those hillside villages, surrounded by olive trees and citrus groves.
This post is full of French Salad recipes that will be a big hit at your next BBQ, potluck or lovely lunch. The presentation is as attractive as the dishes are tasty.
Did you know that many of the famous French Salads are named after cities in France? Each region is known for different types of salad.
Salads can take you on a culinary tour of France. La Salade Niçoise, La Salade Parisienne, La Salade Lyonnaise, and, my own creative spin on two of my absolute favorite towns in France, La Salade Tropezienne and La Salade Mentonnaise.
No need to go to French cooking school, let's do this together!
Classic French Salads included in this post
Fig & Goat Cheese Salad (Inspired by the town of Solliès-Pont and it's annual Fig festival!)
La Salade Niçoise
La Salade Niçoise is my absolute favorite for many reasons. First, my husband and I were married in Nice, this salad is part of our love story. Le Chef had this exact recipe on the menu when he was Executive Chef of Le Meridien Nice hotel. Enjoying this salad on the roof top bistro overlooking the sea is one of my favorite food memories. The authentic Niçoise is made with radishes, cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg, green onion, fresh tomatoes, red peppers, Niçoise olives ( Kalamata olives are a great substitute), anchovies, fava beans, canned tuna and lots of basil. What you won't find are baby potatoes and green beans in the authentic Niçoise! The key is to cut all the ingredients into bite-size pieces so that you have so much flavor in every bite.
La Salade Parisienne
La Salad Parisienne is a French-style potato salad made with boiled potatoes, hardboiled eggs, cornichons (little pickles) and ham in a handmade mayonnaise that is light and unctuous. I love to serve this salad at room temperature and with a sprinkle of fresh chives and dill - it is the perfect BBQ side but can also be the main meal on its own.
La Salade Lyonnaise
La Salade Lyonnaise is a classic French bistro salad with onions caramelized in red wine, crispy bacon, and a soft poached egg over green salad. This salad is hearty enough to be a main course, especially when served with a few slices of fresh baked baguette or French fries.
La Salade Tropezienne
La Salade Tropezienne is one of my favorite flavor combinations and truly a great recipe by Le Chef. The mixture of roasted and fresh peaches, poached shrimp, goat cheese and an incredible Rosé Vinaigrette is absolutely unforgettable...just like the town we named it after.
La Salade Mentonnaise
La Salade Mentonnaise is so light and fresh! Made with thinly sliced raw fennel, orange segments and roasted pine nuts over spring mix. This salad pairs beautifully with grilled meats or chicken. One of my go-to summer salads that everyone asks the recipe for.
Fresh Fig and Goat Cheese Salad
This fresh fig and goat cheese salad is served with a delicious honey vinaigrette that you will want to make over and over again. Fresh figs add so much to any dish and they are the star attraction in this super simple salad.
Tomato Burrata with Basil and Orange Zest
Tomato Burrata with Basil and Orange Zest is an unexpected twist on a classic. The orange zest creates a French Riviera freshness to the dish.
Prosciutto, Melon & Burrata Salad
Prosciutto, Melon & Burrata Salad is a showstopper salad for your next event. In this recipe we teach you how to lay out the melon in a beautiful rose shape that adds elevated beauty to this classic French Riviera combination. Creamy burrata cheese, sweet, juicy melon and salty, rich prosciutto taste incredible together.
Taboulé: Couscous Salad
There is always a big bowl of Taboulé in my fridge. Super simple to make with whatever vegetables you have on hand and a complete meal in a bowl. This recipe is a vegetarian version, but you can also add roast chicken or shrimp. The key is to add lots of fresh herbs! Make this recipe once and you will make it time and time again!
Fennel and Tomato Salad
This Fennel and Tomato Salad is super simple - just two ingredients, however the flavor combination is perfection!
Roasted Plum, Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Salad
Roasted Plum and Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Salad with almonds and pinenuts and an honey dressing is fruity, flavorful, crunchy and tangy all at the same time. This is a great BBQ side to serve with pork or lamb. Roasting the plums takes them to new heights. My new favorite fruit to roast! You will love this salad. It pairs beautifully with a Piscine Pêche cocktail too.
French Salad Dressing
A word on salad dressings - the French very rarely use bottled dressings for salads, they make their own vinaigrette.
The general rule is one part vinegar to three parts oil. I like to use balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, but of course you can choose to use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or red vinegar. Oils can be sunflower oil, grape seed oil or a wide variety of perfumed olive oils - I personally love lemon olive oil if you can find it.
You can make a classic lemon dijon vinaigrette by adding ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a ½ teaspoon of dijon mustard to the vinaigrette. Mix well with a whisk so that the mixture emulsifies (gets thick).
Each of the salad recipes in this post uses homemade vinaigrettes which I am happy to share with you. I think you will love the Rosé vinaigrette on the Salade Tropezienne.
Where to shop:
The first choice for summer salad ingredients is always the farmer's market near you. At Farmer's markets you will always find local produce that is in season - the best base for any salad.
Your local grocery stores, of course, will also carry most of these ingredients. If ever you see fresh figs in your grocery store - buy them!
What wine to serve with French Summer Salads
These classic french salad recipes are best paired with a glass of wine. A dry Provençal Rosé pairs beautifully with La Salade Tropezienne or Niçoise for a taste of the French Riviera. A pinot noir goes better with La salade Lyonnaise or Parisienne.
I also love a classic French cocktail with a long summer lunch. The Kir Royale is so easy to make with just creme de cassis and Champagne. Or else you can indulge in the favorite cocktail of Saint Tropez, the Piscine Pêche, made with Champagne, rosemary and peaches.
Le Chef's Tips for Plating
There is no denying it. We can both use the exact same ingredients but when my husband, Le Chef, plates a dish it always looks 100x better than when I do it. At least it used to... little by little I have been learning the professional tricks of the trade to make your salads look more appealing to the eye.
We eat with our eyes first, and a well presented salad, with the ingredients beautifully laid out, is infinitely more appetizing and impressive than a jumble of ingredients.
As we start BBQ season and summer dining, I am happy to teach you Le Chef's secrets for making your salads the showstopper of any table. Each recipe in this post goes into detail with how to to present or "plate" your dish.
Whether you are looking to eat more vegetables (like I am!) or whether you would like to prepare for a potluck or just bring more joy to your Tuesday work-from-home lunch, these French Summer Salads are for you.
Sharp Chef's Knives for preparing vegetables ( I use this 8 inch Chef's Knife all the time)
A Mandolin for slicing paper thin slices of cucumbers , fennel or radishes. Great for presentation!
Julienne peeler for thin strips of carrots or cucumbers.
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I hope you have enjoyed this round up of my favorite French Summer salads. Which one is your favorite? Are there any other salads you would like me to share a recipe for? I love to hear from you!
Le Chef's Wife
ABOUT LE CHEF'S WIFE
Bonjour! I am Anina Belle. I translate the fancy cooking of my Michelin-star trained French Chef Husband, Le Chef, into easy to make dishes that busy people with no culinary training (like me!) can make at home. We have two young kids (5 and 2) and I have a full time job in hospitality in addition to this blog. I strongly believe that even busy people deserve to eat well at home.
Look inside our Kitchen with this recent Washington Post Article. We were recently featured on the TODAY SHOW for our recipes of French Onion Soup Gratinée and Moelleux au Chocolat. You can watch our full segment here:
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