Menu ideas for French ex-pats

Our new neighbors have just arrived from Grenoble and they are coming for dinner on Sunday. They're bringing the cheese for dessert. I think I'll start with the white gazpacho and I'd like to include the summer squash gratin--which is as close to a perfect dish as I can imagine. So: I'm looking for ideas for the main. I will have time to cook and there aren't really ingredients off the table, but it is late summer in northern California, so the produce--especially the tomatoes-- are amazing. Ideas?



Exbruxelles September 22, 2014
Thank you all for your ideas. Dinner was a great success. This is what we had:
Two bruschetta: Broiled figs with blue cheese; butternut squash hash with bacon, sage and and maple syrup.
White gazpacho, with Manchego frico. (The frico was a happy accident. I had some elderly manchego in the refrigerator and it worked perfectly.)
Halibut in parchment with cherry tomatoes and olive oil.
Warm lentil salad.
Summer squash gratin. (I've made this a number of times and no longer follow the recipe, so I don't know how much olive oil I used, but it couldn't have been more than a couple of tablespoons. It's a great dish and was a particular favorite last night.)
Sliced dry-farm Early Girl tomatoes with olive oil and herbs.
Susan W. September 22, 2014
That sounds like a perfect dinner!
THE M. September 21, 2014
Or to continue with the theme of salmon this recipe is a salmon bouillabaisse but upscaled for company - I call it "Uncork your Best" Salmon Bouillabaisse:
THE M. September 21, 2014
Why don't you try my Salmon sans souci? It's a relatively easy dish to prepare (but you should have a fish poacher) but it's very elegant at the same time. Here it is:
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 20, 2014
This is a great recipe if you have a pan big enough to cook 4 pieces of fish. You could plate underneath lentils and roasted tomatoes. Alternatively, 40 cloves of garlic chicken with a crusty bread and roasted thyme tomatoes.
Pegeen September 20, 2014
p.s. If I'm increasing the recipe for 6 or 8, I drain the squash first with salt as described in the recipe. Then put them in a large, high-sided pan on the stovetop, with the lid slightly ajar, and sweat them for 10-15 minutes until you start to see water collecting in the bottom of the pan. Then remove pan from stove, drain squash, do not return drained sqash to the hot pan. Dump out squash from the strainer onto a clean, dry dishtowel in one layer. Or on a baking sheet. That way, the casserole will not be soup-y.
Pegeen September 20, 2014
Salmon for your menu sounds lovely.

Just a note:
If the summer squash gratin you're making is Amanda's recipe (fantastic!) posted on this site (, there are some good tips in the Reader Comments section. One tip, including from me, was to reduce the oil for the salsa verde from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup or less.

Have a beautiful dinner.

Maedl September 20, 2014
It isn't a main dish, but I would be sure to include corn. I think I might also want some sort of pork or beef barbecue.
Greenstuff September 19, 2014
If you can, go for salmon, which has be excellent in northern California this year, never fails to impress, and would be absolutely great with white gazpacho, a summer gratin (very Grenoble!), and a cheese course. If you can't do salmon, another fish. Given the richness of your other courses, I'd keep everything else, including those late-summer tomatoes pretty simple.

Susan W. September 19, 2014
I would concentrate on local products. Grilled seafood with that gratin would be wonderful. Salmon or clams and a loaf of your favorite sourdough. Dungeness are getting nicely plump in Oregon, but maybe too early down there? Apparently I am obsessed with seafood right now. Ooo..cioppino. Not a great pairing for the gratin though.
Sam1148 September 19, 2014
Shrimp Etouffee is good. I'd try to make more American dishes rather French dishes, If weather is about 'low country seafood boil' and do it outside with newspaper on picnic tables and dump it all out on the newsprint. Use the Zatarain's spice bag.

Or go classical and a rack of prime ribs, the gratin, lightly cooked green beans..and garden salad. And good yeast rolls.
HalfPint September 19, 2014
How about this recipe for Greek-style shrimp,

I've substituted fresh chopped tomatoes for the tomato sauce and it's still a delicious dish.
Recommended by Food52