Today I thought I would share a little taste of my summer in France. A bit more “real life” than perhaps my photos might suggest! For sure there is plentiful rosé and pastries and French fries (especially at those night markets) but most days, I eat much more simply, taking advantage of fresh produce and fridge and pantry staples. One of my absolute favourite things (anytime but especially when I am dining alone) is a big plate of salad.
This “recipe” if you can call it that, was created years ago when I was studying for my MA in Paris over a series of summers, on one of those days when I looked in the fridge and briefly thought “There’s nothing to eat, I must go to the store” (because after all, I could spend hours in a French supermarket, especially if I’m supposed to be working on something else – best procrastination strategy ever!). Then I decided to pull everything in my fridge out and take a good look to see if I couldn’t figure out a meal from what I had on hand.
It turned out to be a pretty complete meal – just add baguette – and now these items are always on my very first shopping list when I arrive in France (while it’s great to shop at the markets, all these items can be purchased at a supermarket too – much more practical when you first arrive somewhere!). And making this numerous times over the past couple of weeks has reminded me that I need to make this more often when I am home!
Big summer salad, French-style
Meal in a salad bowl - this has a little bit of everything!
For the salad
- 3-4 cups mixed salad leaves (I typically use mix of endive, a crunchy lettuce like sucrine or romaine and a softer leaf like mâche or lamb's lettuce but you can use a bag of mixed leaves too!)
- 1 large tomato, chopped into cubes
- approximately 60g hard cheese like Emmenthal or Comté, cubed
- 100g lardons, cooked and drained (or 6 slices bacon, cooked, drained and chopped)
- 1/2 small cucumber, chopped into cubes
- 2 small new potatoes, cooked (I use my microwave for this), cooled and cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup corn kernels, drained
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
- chives, to serve
For the dressing
- 80mls (1/3 cup) olive oil
- 4-6 tablespoons lemon juice (on this salad I like my dressing very lemon-y!)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (not the grainy kind)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make the dressing:
- Place oil, lemon juice and mustard in a jam jar, or similar. Shake well.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Assemble the salad:
- Divide all the ingredients between two large plates (I like to add each ingredient to the plates separately instead of mixing the salad in a bowl).
- Serve with the dressing (this way, if there are leftovers, they will not be soggy because they are already dressed).
What about you – what’s your “go to” meal when there’s “nothing to eat”?