I never need an excuse to cook French food, but Bastille Day — France’s own Independence Day, celebrated on July 14th — is always a good reason to whip up a French-inspired dinner party for friends, right when summer produce is at its height. One of my favorite French recipes is ratatouille, a stewed vegetable dish from Provence, but this time I’ve decided to give it a twist by turning the traditional ingredients — eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and onion — into a beautiful Ratatouille Salad with Tomato Water Vinaigrette. For dessert, I’ll teach you to make Grilled Stone Fruit with Crème Fraîche — and, because the main course is so light, you won’t feel guilty about having a slice of pound cake with your fruit.
Besides putting fabulous food on the menu, it’s also fun to set the mood with a few simple table decorations. For this rustic table setting, we layered a lace tablecloth with a burlap runner, then made flower containers out of tin cans painted with craft paint in the colors of the French flag. Hand-printed fleur-de-lis napkins crafted from a potato stamp and flour sack dish towels are a great way to add some additional French flair. I also love to welcome people to the table with some kind of treat that they can take home at the end of the night, like a small jar filled with my Petite Cookies, Sweet & Spicy Pecans, or even fresh cherry tomatoes right off the vine.
Let’s get this party started — bon appétit!
French Rustic Dinner Party:
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