Provençal Recipes That Will Give You a Taste of the South of France
We left the buzzing city of Aix-en-Provence and drove just 15 minutes to reach the rocky mountain Sainte Victoire, which Cezanne memorialized in several paintings. The afternoon was slipping away and now it was the golden hour, so we pulled our car to the side of the road to enjoy the famous light. When we stepped out among the grass and flowering shrubs, the herbaceous fragrance of Provence wafted all around us. We pinched a few stems of thyme between our fingers to bring back in our suitcases.
It may seem like a cliché, but much of Provence really is just as we imagine it: fields of lavender and sunflowers, stone houses with faded blue shutters, men playing petanques under plane trees, their glasses of Pastis always within reach.
We Americans have fallen in love with Provençal style and it's no wonder why: It is irresistible. More than anything, we are attracted to the delicious culinary language of this region of southern France. We love it for its insistence on freshness; its outdoor markets; its olive oil, melons, and chevre. Provençal cuisine is mostly associated with summertime, and we dream about rustic feasts en plein air. Yes, there is winter in the south of France, and the stone houses get cold when the wind known as le Mistral blows. Then, there will be daube du boeuf or roast lamb, and baked vegetable dishes such as
. But the foods of the warmer months are our favorites; even the most beloved soups, bouillabaisse and soupe au Pistou, lend themselves to summer eating thanks to their connections to the sea and the garden.
An abundance of flavor, seasonal and honest, is the hallmark of Provençal food, which is always served with a touch of restraint that is very French. And toujours, there is chilled rosé.
Goat Cheese with Edible Flowers and Arugula
Tapenade is the ultimate Provençal condiment and a perfect pairing with goat cheese. Authentic versions always include capers.
Chilled Mussels with Saffron Mayonnaise
Provencal Onion Tart
Salade Nicoise Sandwiches
This is the classic street food of Nice, and it's often wrapped in paper and eaten while wandering the market stalls. Socca is an irresistible savory pancake made with chickpea flour, totally traditional yet also totally of the moment—and suitable for those on a gluten-free diet.
Le Grand Aioli
Le Grand Aioli is the essence of Provençal summer eating, it's a communal meal that's relaxed and healthy. It's centerpiece is aioli, the fresh garlicky, golden sauce, that turns a rather simple meal of boiled fish and vegetables into a feast.
There is no need to wonder why this late summer vegetable dish has become such a classic—it's delicious and very versatile. Here is a traditional, family recipe for this satisfying favorite.