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Some vegetarians may think of French cuisine as hostile territory. Sure, there are baguettes and croissants, but French food can often seem dominated by meat-heavy dishes. What's a non-meat eater to do when faced with a prix fixe menu of oozy onion soup, frogs' legs, and beef en croûte?
French food is so much more than its stereotypes, though, and this dinner menu proves that la cuisine française can be simple, approachable, and entirely aspic-free. You can celebrate Bastille Day without l'escargot or langue de boeuf: All you need is a good loaf of bread, high-quality butter, and radishes, cherries, and lettuce fresh from the market, et voilà!
1/2 pound cherries, pitted
1 cup whole milk
1 pinch fine sea salt
Salad greens of your choice
Roquefort or another French cheese
1 loaf of good bread
Best-quality salted butter, at room temperature
1 bunch of small radishes
Flaky salt, like Maldon or Jacobsen
Vanilla ice cream, optional
You probably have eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, powdered sugar, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, red wine, and olive oil. If not, add those to list, too.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a pie pan or other round baking dish, then scatter the cherries evenly over top.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and 1/3 cup of flour. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking powder and mix to combine. Slowly pour in the whole milk and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the mixture over the cherries and bake until set and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make a vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of red wine, a pinch of fine sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil until the mixture is opaque and somewhat creamy. Wash and dry your salad greens of choice. Crumble a good amount of cheese over top.
4. Slice the bread into 4 thick pieces and toast in the oven or toaster. When the bread has cooled, smear one side with butter. Slice the radishes, arrange them on the bread, and sprinkle flaky salt over top.
5. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and eat alongside the tartine -- a sandwich and salad à la mode française. When you’re finished with dinner, dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar and eat à la mode, if you choose.
Photos by James Ransom