Because French cuisine relies so heavily on seasonal foods, the classic French kitchen gets a creative awakening in the spring. The heavy textures and rich flavors of winter get replaced with bright, fresh fruits and vegetables from the Charente.
Historically, French spring food became lighter in preparation for the energy and mobility needed for preparing for the upcoming months of growing and harvest. Because French cuisine remains firmly rooted in tradition, we still enjoy lighter spring food today.
After hibernating in the confines of your home during the cold winter months and bundling up like Eskimos, it’s time to come out, play and eat some more. Breathe in the springtime air and enjoy the fresh scented surroundings. But more importantly, feast on this season’s colorful and fresh French cuisine offerings.
When: April to June
Avocado and Romaine Salad
Creamy avocado and crunchy romaine lettuce create a beautiful contrast in this French salad that showcases the bounty of spring veggies. Use high-quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil. They really shine in this recipe and you’ll definitely taste the difference.
Clafouti au Cerise
A classic dish from the Limousine region, the sweet clafouti is a rustic baked treat you can devour for breakfast. The fruit brings color, flavor and energy to this custard-like dish which should start any spring day right.
Looking for a filling meal to brighten your day? Try the special known as chicken fricassee. The magic that happens in the French kitchen is transported in your mouth with every bite of the slow braised chicken in wine and chicken stock dish.
Snapper en Papilotte
When it comes to ways of the kitchen, the French are surely one of the most creative bunch. Take for instance this fish and vegetable dish which is baked to perfection using parchment envelopes. Not only does this technique keep the fish moist but it allows the distinctive Provence flavors to meld beautifully.
A famous and common dish in the Alsace region of France, Baeckeoffe celebrates the goodness of eating marinated meat. Typically soaked in white wine with some berries, the casserole is incredibly flavorful and unforgettable. It makes a perfect spring casserole as the marinated lamb, pork or beef is mixed with sliced potatoes and onions.
Basic Crepe Batter
Don’t feel intimidated by the delicacy of classic French crepes. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily whip up a batch at home. The batter needs to rest for at least 20 minutes before using, so allow for that extra preparation time. Fill them with sweet or savory ingredients like strawberries, Nutella, goat cheese, or fresh sautéed spring asparagus
Spinach and Onion Quiche
Try this savory spinach and onion quiche for a relatively quick and easy spring breakfast or brunch. It doesn’t require a pastry shell, but you can use a pre-made one or whip up your own favorite recipe. If you do use a crust, let it rest before pouring in the egg mixture or par-bake it so it doesn’t shrink.
Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Gruyere
Quiche may rank as one of the most popular French dishes stateside, and the egg tart lends itself to many fillings. This bacon and gruyere cheese version makes a hearty breakfast or brunch, or even a nice dinner with a side salad and a glass of white wine. If you don’t like bacon or gruyere, substitute crumbled sausage and any kind of cheese you like. Tender baby asparagus works great, too.
Buckwheat crepes taste heartier than the classic version, and go along beautifully with a range of fillings. Try the first strawberries of the season, early tomatoes and baby spinach, or thinly shaved ham and a funky cheese like raclette. This crepe batter needs to rest for at least 2 hours before using, so allow yourself extra time.
Classic Spinach Soufflé
A light and airy soufflé looks impressive enough for guests, but you can actually make it easily enough for a weeknight meal too. This one uses fresh springy spinach and makes a lovely light dinner or a side dish for a heartier main course. Serve it quickly before it falls, and watch your family’s faces light up.
Roasted Maple and Orange Glazed Turkey
The combination of orange and maple tastes categorically French. This simple sweet and savory preparation will highlight succulent turkey beautifully. Letting the turkey rest for a few minutes after it finishes allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat, creating a juicier bird.
A French nicoise salad features potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and green beans all dressed with a beautiful dijon dressing. Traditionally, it also includes anchovies. Since not everyone enjoys the fishy taste, you can choose to omit them if you prefer.
Elegant Fig Sorbet
Fresh figs have a lovely, rich sweetness that lends itself well to a range of preparations. A cooling sorbet makes a light dessert or palate cleanser between courses during an elegant dinner. Leave some of the fig seeds in for a nice, crunchy texture.
Cooling Mint Sorbet
If you have fresh mint taking over your garden, have we got a solution for you. A light mint sorbet will end your meal on a cooling note that won’t weigh you down like richer desserts would. Try it to wrap up an afternoon tea or a fancy brunch party.
Dark Chocolate Truffles
We can’t think of anywhere we’d rather be than a French chocolatier. If you can’t make it to Paris, create these decadent dark chocolate truffles at home. Use high-quality chocolate for the best results; these simple treats will really showcase the flavor.
Make crepes for dessert and everyone will linger at the table. These rich chocolate crepes lend themselves to a whole range of sweet fillings. Try cherry sauce, whipped cream, Nutella, chopped nuts, or fresh berries. For an especially delightful presentation, layer fresh berries and several sauces with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top.
These adorable individual chocolate soufflés look fancy, but come together more easily than you think. Rich and chocolatey, serve them fresh out of the oven before they deflate. A little bit of whipped cream on top would balance out the decadence beautifully.
Classic Chocolate Mousse
Round out a light spring meal with chocolate mousse, a sweet treat that is at once airy and elegant. It will lend a romantic note to any meal, but their uncomplicated nature also appeals to kids and fussy eaters.
French Toast with Strawberry Compote
Give your French toast a classic continental accent by using brioche. It gives this brunch classic a pillowy texture and it soaks up the egg mixture perfectly. Use fresh, sweet spring strawberries to make a compote that will take it to the next level.
Goat Cheese Salad
Make the most of the first fresh lettuces of the season with this light French bistro salad. Rounds of warm goat cheese give it a creamy element that contrasts perfectly with the crunchy, zesty leaves. Radicchio, arugula, or a mix of baby greens would work well in this preparation.
Ratatouille with Eggplant
Many think of ratatouille as a winter dish because it’s so filling, but it works great in the spring when the first tender squash and sweet tomatoes arrive at the market. This easy and fragrant recipe calls for eggplant, tomatoes, and yellow squash, but you can substitute zucchini or other squash too, depending on what comes into season first near you.
Broccoli Soup with Cream and Croutons
A velvety cream of broccoli soup will start your meal off on a green note, but it also makes a delicious light lunch. Using fresh spring broccoli makes this creamy soup a seasonal favorite, but you can also use frozen broccoli if you have it on hand.
Fresh Carrot Salad
Artisanal carrots, which come in a gorgeous range of colors, would make this quick and easy French salad especially pretty. The zippy dijon dressing gives it extra flare. Try it for a light starter or side dish with pork or chicken and a glass of crisp white wine.
French Potato Leek Soup
If you think of spring when you see buttery leeks on the menu, you’re not alone. Hearty, creamy leek and potato soup goes by vichyssoise in France, where they serve it cold on a warm day. You can try this one either warm or chilled; it tastes great both ways.