Bastille Day is to France what the 4th of July is to Americans — not only a celebration of independence and national values, but also a great excuse for a cookout. While the French don’t concentrate nearly as much on their national colors (coincidentally, the same as ours!) as we do for our national fête, French food is on the menu — though perhaps not the sort you’d imagine.
When thinking of French food, we often think of the heavier dishes, laden in sauces. But for Bastille Day, summery French dishes can’t be beat. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Cherry Clafoutis
Let’s start with dessert in this case: it does have to be made last. Pies are very rarely found on French menus, but this summery, custardy dessert known as a clafoutis likely will be. A traditional clafoutis is made with cherries, though you can actually make the same dish with nearly any seasonal fruit.
2. Salade Niçoise
Salade niçoise image via Shutterstock: Maceofoto
Salade niçoise is a French classic and an ideal dish to serve up for Bastille Day. Like with many classic dishes, there are nearly as many recipes as there are cooks, but this one claims to be one of the most traditional. We like it for a few reasons: it subs more traditional and more sustainable anchovies for the more common tuna, does away with boiled veggies in place of fresh, and features the bright, fresh flavor of basil. What more could you ask for?
3. Pan Bagnat
But if you’re not convinced by salade niçoise, maybe pan bagnat will strike your fancy. Pan bagnat is a sandwich from the same region as the salade niçoise: the Côte d’Azur. Fresh, local ingredients like olive oil, tomatoes and fish, are piled onto a special loaf of bread. The bread soaks up the mix of sauces, giving you the perfect blend of flavor.
4. Rice Salad
Rice salad image via Shutterstock: Oxana Denezhkina
This is one classically French summer dish that you’ve likely never heard of. While many other French specialties have found themselves exported, rice salad is something you’ll likely only hear about if you make it to France… or if you make it yourself! The best thing about rice salad is what a great way it is to use up leftovers.
5. Vegan Quiche
Photo Credit: liz west
Sophisticated quiche is both popular and easy to make — this version is ideal for any vegan friends attending your Bastille Day bash. The rich, savory custard is the perfect support for any fillings you desire.
Of course, these are far from the only dishes you can offer for a Bastille Day dinner. Try making a French cheese plate, ordering some French pastries from your local bakery, or even just pairing good dark chocolate with baguette.
Cherry clafoutis image via Shutterstock: Ahanov Michael
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