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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Style Summer Dining

Monday, August 9, 2021

August is the height of summer when laissez-faire French style dining is at its best. Hot days heavy with heat, humidity, and sun glare call for easy lunches with no cooking, no heating up the kitchen. 

French Style Summer Dining
Lazy days with no set schedules call for laissez-faire (let things take their own course) two-hour lunches. Not the power lunches of driven businessmen, but relaxed lunches sitting around the table with friends and family. 

F R E N C H   S T Y L E   

S U M M E R   D I N I N G  

This post contains links to items for which I receive compensation. 

French Style Summer Dining
For casual French meals, like summer lunches at sidewalk cafes or on tables set under grape arbors, the table setting may have flatware crossed in the center of the plate instead of formal place settings.  

French Style Summer Dining
Blue striped linens as serviettes (napkins) protect clothes and wipe away crumbs from faces. 

French Style Summer Dining
Croissants are favorite French breakfast breads, but also are delicious for casual no-cook summer lunches.  Using croissants to make a scrumptious ham sandwich turns an American-style sandwich into a French experience.  

French Style Summer Dining
Add French Gruyere cheese for a classic French ham and cheese sandwich. For even more French authenticity, add a layer of butter instead of mayonnaise or mustard to the croissant. 

French Style Summer Dining
Heirloom tomatoes fresh from the potager (kitchen garden) are full of flavor! The variety shown is Purple Cherokee and is perfect for sliced tomatoes on sandwiches. 

Or, instead of adding tomato slices to a ham and cheese croissant sandwich, make a popular French lunch salad by layering tomato slices, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese slices on a serving platter. Drizzle with a homemade French-style vinaigrette. I have eaten variations of this salad for lunch at outdoor cafes all over France! 

French Style Summer Dining
Vinaigrette is made in many French homes with no recipe... just use a little of this and pinch of that from pantry staples. Adjust ingredients to personal preferences. 

Start with about 1/2 cup of huile d'olive vierge extra avec saveur truffe blanche (extra virgin olive oil with white truffle flavor) from Paris to create the savory vinaigrette for the tomato salad. 

Add 1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Mix in about ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. 

French Style Summer Dining
For more flavor, add about 2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh herbes de Provence (Provence herbs) to the olive oil mixture.  Fresh herbs from the garden are best, but if you do not have fresh herbs, use about 1 teaspoon of a dried mixture of basil, oregano, parsley, tarragon, rosemary, sage, thyme, and/or marjoram in place of fresh herbs. Since dried herbs have stronger flavors than fresh herbs, use only about ½ to ⅓ as much dried herbs than if you used fresh herbs. 

French Style Summer Dining
For dessert, do as the French, and eat fresh fruit and more cheese instead of a sugary cake or pie. White peaches are a favorite summer fruit at my house. 

Add your favorite beverage to your French style summer lunch. Water with lots of ice is my preferred drink in the summer. I stay hydrated and cooled down. 

French Style Summer Dining
When I first starting chaperoning students for summer trips to France back in the 1980s, ice was a rare commodity at restaurants. When we requested ice for our drinks, waiters were puzzled by our requests, and would only bring one glass with 3-5 ice cubes for the entire table of people to share. 

Why? Because the French did not drink cold beverages with ice, and they did not have large quantities of ice cubes on hand.  

Over the years, France has adapted to tourist requests for lots of ice. The last time I was in France the ice-filled glass shown above was what I received when I requested ice. I had to photograph the abundance of ice cubes! My sister and I had a good time reminiscing about our early trips to France when we saw how much ice was in the glass. 

French Style Summer Dining
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Beat summer heat and escape to France 
with a French-style lunch. 


{Disclosure: If you purchase items from Botanic Bleu, I receive compensation for your purchase. See my Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more information.} 


White Scroll Flatware - Botanic Bleu 

Croissants - Costco 

Herbes de Provence  - Home Goods 

Artisan de la Truffe - Virgin Olive Oil, Paris, France