French Vegetable Cooking
Fresh Produce Takes the Stage
French food is about utter simplicity. When it comes to vegetables, keep the cooking minimal. Fresh herbs and other essential French ingredients punctuate each dish, but produce remains the star.
First up, we have Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers. In addition to great tomatoes and eggplants, summer is the time for sweet red and yellow peppers with real flavor. A great way to enjoy them is fire-roasted and peeled. It's easy to do at home, even if it's a little messy.
Zucchini and Goat Cheese Quiche
Is there anything more French than a savory vegetable quiche? Choose fresh-looking, smooth-skinned zucchini. If you have a vegetable garden, add strips of squash blossom to the tart, as well. Crumbled goat cheese and diced ham give the tart a complex flavor.
Buttered Radish Tartines
French diners have a fetish for radishes served with good butter and sea salt. In the summer, they are on the table at every meal or served alongside an aperitif.
Grated Carrot Salad
Raw carrots are cut in fine julienne, then dressed with a lemony vinaigrette with a hint of garlic. Before serving, the salad is showered with freshly cut chives (and chive blossoms, if you have some).
Grilled Eggplant with Moroccan Spices
Cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and mint provide North African flavor for the tender grilled eggplant. A tangy spiced yogurt sauce complements each sweet and smoky slice.
Ripe Summer Tomato Gratin with Basil
Ripe tomatoes and fresh basil are essential summer companions. Here they are baked together and topped with garlicky breadcrumbs in a savory take on a fruit crumble.
French Pantry Essentials
Salt-cured and oil-packed, these add a touch of pungency and richness to compound butters, dressings, and pasta tosses.
Use this salt (such as fleur de sel) for cooking and finishing everything from roast chicken to caramels.
Choose a fruity, smooth variety like Moulin Saint-Michel. Drizzle over a baguette, vegetables or seafood.
Preferably buy organic, with inner cloves that are firm, not sprouty. Infuse oil, stir into breadcrumbs, or make aioli.
Try delicate niçoise, crisp green picholines, or assertive wrinkled black Nyons alone or minced in a tapenade. Kalamata and Castelvetrano are fine subs.