We don’t need much of an excuse to celebrate all things French: from croissants, to Le Creuset, to Monet, our hearts are always in Paris. After all, chic was born there. If you can’t be in France this Bastille Day, we have some ideas to bring France to you.
French food doesn’t have to be heavy. The south of France, influenced by its proximity to the Mediterranean, is full of healthful dishes perfect for the summer heat. We love Ina Garten’s vegetarian riff on the provincial classic Pan Bagnat, from her book Make It Ahead. Here, instead of the standard tuna, Ina uses creamy mozzarella. It’s the ideal dish to tide you over all summer, until her new book comes out this fall, Cooking for Jeffrey.
Tomato Mozzarella Pan Bagnat
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup good olive oil
- 6 anchovy fillets, drained and minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes
- 4 individual ciabatta rolls, cut in half horizontally
- 6 to 8 ounces lightly salted fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- ½ cup julienned fresh basil leaves
- For the vinaigrette, whisk the shallots, garlic, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, stir in the anchovies (if using), capers, and olives, and set aside.
- Core the tomatoes and slice them ⅓ inch thick. Place the bottom halves of the ciabattas, cut side up, on a sheet pan. Place a layer of tomato on each bread, spoon on ⅔ of the vinaigrette, add a layer of mozzarella, and sprinkle with the basil leaves. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette on the cut sides of the ciabatta tops and place them, cut side down, on the sandwiches. Place a second sheet pan on the sandwiches and put weights on top, such as cans of tomatoes. Allow the sandwiches to sit at room temperature for an hour for the flavors to blend.
- Heat an electric panini press and toast the sandwiches for 5 to 10 minutes, until the bread is toasted and the mozzarella starts to melt. Cut each sandwich in half and serve warm.
- Make it ahead: Assemble the sandwiches, wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day. Toast before serving.
Champagne. What else is there to say? There is nothing nicer, chicer, or more french. We’re particularly fond of this Taittinger Brut La Française. Bright, dry, and light, with flavors of peach and honey, it’s the dictionary definition of bubbly. Drink it on its own as an aperitif, or pair it with any seafood or white meat. As classic as our favorite white shirt. Fun fact: the presses for the grapes are located directly on the vineyard for immediate pressing after the harvest. It’s also aged for nearly four years—double the legal minimum of 15 months. A special occasion wine that needs no special occasion at all.
There may be countless books about how French women are the best at all and sundry; Laure Dugas’ new book Champagne Baby flips that trope. Part coming-of-age memoir, part travelogue, (plus some very helpful wine recommendations), Champagne Baby is the story of a native Parisian who comes to America and finds herself. It encourages readers to view their world with newfound appreciation, and to raise their glasses with open-mindedness and joy. What’s more American than that?
French in style with the perfect American twist, this chic little dress—made in denim—goes from the café to the musée and everywhere in between.