French food has a reputation for being rich and hearty, and that’s why we love it. But these classic dishes will let you indulge in French cuisine without counting the calories. Bon appétit!
Usually a side-dish, ratatouille is a delicious mix of courgettes, aubergines, onions and tomatoes all simmered in tomato sauce and olive oil. Turn it into a more substantial meal by adding shredded chicken on top or try a roasted ratatouille and eggs dish with crunchy bread for a light dinner.
French Onion Soup
The champion of French soups, this dish as old as time (for the French at least) is lighter than you think and consists of only onions, vegetable stock and wine. Choose wholegrain bread instead of baguette for the cheesy toast that sits on top of the steaming soup.
Another staple in French gastronomy, the Niçoise salad is packed with healthy ingredients including tuna, anchovies, tomatoes, black olives and hard-boiled eggs. You can add other vegetables such as green beans or artichoke hearts to vary. Drizzle a lemon and olive oil dressing and enjoy this refreshing yet satisfying salad.
Coq au Vin, a chicken stew cooked in red wine, is a French classic and normally uses bacon but you can ditch the lardons and add plenty of vegetables to create a slightly lighter version of this warming stew. You can do something similar with ‘chicken chasseur’ and only use the mushrooms and herbs without the bacon. Poule au pot is also an option as the chicken is cooked slowly with aromatic vegetables and plenty of herbs
Recipe for Poule au Pot
Fish soups and stews
For a taste of the South of France, try a simple fish soup made with a combination of fish, seafood, vegetables and stock and served with crunchy croutons and rouille, a garlic, cayenne pepper and tomato paste. For those who prefer chunkier stews, try Bouillabaisse, a fish and seafond stew from Marseille seasoned with Provencal herbs.
This rather under-rated little bean is delicious, filling and provides protein, fibre and vitamins. The Puy green lentils are the best because they hold their firm shape after cooking and have a lovely peppery taste. You can try lentil soup, lentil salad or go for a light version of the ‘petit salé’ dish by scrapping the meat and adding greens like kale, spinach or mâche.