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French Riviera Lunch: Summer Menu of Traditional Dishes from Nice

We asked Celine O’Donnell, a bilingual walking tour guide who lives in Nice, France if she would select the 2024 Summer menu for Perfectly Provence readers. Celine decided on a collection of her favourite, typical Niçoise recipes – Pissaladière, Truccha, Salade Niçoise and Tourte de Blettes. We hope you enjoy this delicious multi-course lunch menu and savour it over several hours with good friends.


Who is Celine?

Native of Nice, my parents were also born in this beautiful city on the French Riviera. My surname comes from my British grandfather with Irish ancestors, who fell in love with Nice and settled here with my grandmother after WWII to start a new life. As a tour guide, I love sharing my passion for and knowledge of my dear city with travellers eager to know more about our history, culture, and lifestyle. Learn more about how my tours are here.

Nice: Ideas for Food Lovers

Zucchini flowers Market Nice Cote d'Azur

What is Niçoise cuisine?

What I love about Niçoise cuisine is the simple, fresh, highly aromatic ingredients, whose fragrant flavours remind us of our history, our ancestors, and the beautiful, generous nature we’re lucky to have here on the French Riviera.

The people of Nice are very attached to their culinary traditions for these reasons and preserve them by preparing all these dishes with love and great pride. When a Niçois(e) prepares a meal, they offer you a piece of their heart. You may have noticed this if you’ve had the chance to eat lunch in one of the traditional restaurants in Nice’s old town (Vieux Nice). Local Nice families have run some of these restaurants for several generations. Three of my favourites, Cave de la Tour, Chez Acchiardo, and La Table Alziari, proudly offer their cuisine to residents and travellers alike. Reservations recommended!

Cave de la Tour
3 Rue de la Tour,
06300 Nice
Closed on Mondays

Chez Acchiardo
38 Rue Droite,
06300 Nice
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

La Table Alziari
4 Rue François Zanin,
06300 Nice
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Market tomatoes Nice France French Riviera

French Riviera Lunch Menu

The four dishes that I chose for this menu are those that my maternal grandmother (she is now 91) used to prepare. We enjoyed these recipes as a family during the summer months. We would all sit around a wooden table shaded by a parasol in front of the family’s cabanon. This little cabin was in a village perched on a mountain in the hinterland about a 40-minute drive from Nice. It was where my grandparents spent the summer and where I passed my school holidays.

On Sundays, my parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins would join us, and we’d all spend that long, convivial lunch together, full of laughter and joy. There was great pleasure in being together and sharing a meal lovingly prepared by grandma with vegetables from her garden right next to the cabanon. In addition, there were eggs from the neighbour’s chickens, fresh bread from the village boulangerie and olive oil produced locally and bought at the market.

The 4-course menu that follows will make you travel through the meal to Nice and my childhood memories. This typical summer menu from Nice is fresh, light, and delicious, full of sunshine and flavours.

French Riviera Summer Menu 2024

A Nibble with Drinks

La pissaladière.

Residents of Nice will tell you that this traditional dish is a must-try. To be genuinely successfully cooked, prepare this dish with love. The onions are chopped finely and simmered over low heat for a long time. Preparing pissaladière is an extraordinary experience because it awakens the senses: the sweet smell of the onions in the frying pan is so pleasant and “gourmand” it whets the appetite.

After my tours, I sometimes eat lunch with my clients in one of my favourite restaurants. I love seeing their astonishment and joy after they’ve tasted their first bite of pissaladière and realize that this onion tart tastes much better than they could have imagined! After a sip of Bellet red wine right afterwards, they’re instantly in Niçois heaven!

Pissaladière a Delicious Flatbread

Pissaladière

My French Country Home
It is best served as an appetizer with cocktails or a green salad for a light lunch!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French, Provencal
Servings 12 people

Ingredients
 
 

Tart:

  • 4 cups Flour
  • 2/3 cups Water
  • pinch of Salt
  • 3 tsp Yeast
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil

Caramelized Onions:

  • 4 lbs Onions
  • 100 ml Olive oil
  • 1 bouquet Garni dried parsley, thyme, and bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves

Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup Olives
  • 1/4 cup Anchovies in Salt

Instructions
 

To make the Caramelized Onions:

  • Peel the onions, chop them finely, and put them in a large saucepan with olive oil, garlic cloves, and the bouquet garni. Add salt and pepper, and cover. Let it cook on low heat for 45 minutes.
  • Remove garlic at the end of cooking.

To make the Tart shell:

  • Put 125 g of flour on a work surface or in a bowl, make a hole and add the yeast diluted in a little warm water.
  • Mix the ingredients to obtain a dough ball and let it rest, covered with a cloth. The dough should double in volume within 30 minutes.
  • Place the remaining flour in a bowl and add water, olive oil, and salt in the middle. Work the dough, adding water until you reach the desired consistency. Add the yeast to the dough and knead it together. Cover and let it rest for an hour.

Cooking:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Oil a pie pan or a baking sheet, spread the dough to a 1/2 cm thickness, add the onions, and decorate with anchovies and olives.
  • Cook for 18 – 20 minutes.
  • Season with pepper when removing from the oven, and serve with a side of salad or as an appetizer.

Notes

**If you do not wish to make your own dough, a pre-made tart or pizza dough will work just as well
Keyword Garlic, Onions, Tarts
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Other variations:

Fougasse Pissaladière (Onion, Olive and Anchovy)
If you prefer, you can make a plain version of fougasse. However, we like this variation with a Pissaladière topping (onion, olives and anchovies) as it is really typical of this region and one with rosemary & salt. And delicious with a glass of rosé.
Check out this recipe
Fougasse with Sweet Onions, Olives and Anchovies
Pissaladière tart
This combination of slow-cooked onions, anchovies, and crispy pasty is hard to resist.
Check out this recipe
Pissaladière Tart Provence Recipes Cooking Classes @ProvenceCook

First Course

La Truccha, mon amour !

Truccha (truchia or trucha) is a dish full of surprises! Its ingredients seem simple yet delicious and flavoured. The sweet taste of fresh eggs blends perfectly with that of Swiss chard. The onion, garlic and Parmesan add even more deliciousness. It’s also perfect for your health: it contains iron and protein. When you eat truccha, you’re doing your body and soul a world of good.

I like to eat truchia with a mesclun niçois (a mixture of young shoots of various lettuces, roquette (arugula), and wild dandelion leaves. Previously, the lettuce mixture was picked just before the meal from the garden or foraged in the countryside, seasoned with fruity olive oil and a little vinegar or lemon. This mesclun lends truccha a touch of acidity and a peppery aroma. But truccha is also delicious and served with a Niçoise salad.

Cuisine Nissarde La Trucha from Nice

La Trucha a Niçoise Favourite

Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice
The trucha is a nourishing staple of Cuisine Nissarde. Enjoy it hot, warm, or cold with olive oil and crusty bread. This recipe makes enough for two (2) people for a lunchtime meal. * Variations listed in notes.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Lunch Dish
Cuisine Cuisine Nissarde, French, Provencal
Servings 4 people

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • 6 large Eggs
  • 2.2 lbs Swiss Chard Greens
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 100 g Grated Parmesan or sbrinz cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Separate the greens from the Swiss chard ribs (or better still, just use the leafy green parts). Cut the chard leaves into 1 cm strips. Rinse the chopped chard well in cold water 2 or 3 times. This is an important step, as it removes the acidity from the chard. Drain carefully.
  • Cut the onion into small cubes and let it brown in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil.
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs, and add the cheese, the chard, and the cooked onion. Add salt and pepper.
  • Generously oil a non-stick pan (even one with a non-stick base) with two tablespoons of olive oil and heat over a moderate flame. Pour in the mixture and cook over low heat, pressing down well with a wooden spatula to obtain a thickness of 2 to 3 centimetres (about 1 inch) thick (the volume of the chard will decrease by half as it cooks).
  • This is the tricky part of the recipe: the truccha must not stick to the pan’s surface and should have a nice colour. After 20 minutes, when the top of the truccha starts to set, flip it over with a serving dish.
  • Oil the pan again and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat without a lid.

Notes

Variations:
Blanch the chard greens in 2 litres of salted water. Allow them to cool down, and press them hard between your hands to extract the excess water. Chop coarsely with a knife.
Break up the chard with a fork and a clove of garlic. When cooked, drain and squeeze out the moisture with your hands. Chop the chard with a knife.
In season, a few chopped chervil or parsley leaves can be added to the eggs, but this is not essential to the recipe, which is already very tasty if the chard is of high quality.
Mix 50 grams of pine nuts, previously roasted in the oven, into the mixture.
Keyword Eggs, Parmesan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Summer Salad Season

La salade niçoise, la star des plats d’été niçois! For the people of Nice, the arrival of summer means the arrival of tomatoes, with their juicy, sun-drenched flavour, representing the arrival of salade niçoise! Yippee!

Salade niçoise, a symbol of Southern French cuisine, is much more than a simple assembly of fresh ingredients. It’s a joyful dish assembled to compose a symphony of flavours that pay tribute to the vegetables and produce offered by the sea, nature, and the sun. This salad’s history dates back to the 19th century when local fishermen and farmers began to prepare it with the available fresh produce.

I’m always amazed at the intelligence of my Mediterranean ancestors who, through their Niçoise cuisine, created perfectly balanced dishes packed with all the right vitamins and everything our bodies need. The Niçoise salad is undoubtedly the queen of all those local recipes that we still eat almost daily in summer because, on one plate, we find eggs (protein), tuna and anchovies (Omega 3), fresh vegetables (full of various vitamins), olives and the fabulous olive oil (with proven health benefits). Do yourself a favour and eat a good Niçoise salad!

Authentic Salade Niçoise Recipe Cuisine nissarde

Salade Niçoise - La Salada Nissarda

Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice
This salad is presented flat, with the ingredients arranged artistically on the mesclun lettuce. The presentation of this salad is important because it is only mixed before serving.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine French, Provencal
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1/4 lb mesclun lettuce
  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 oz Spring Onion, tops and bottoms removed
  • 3 1/2 oz white celery hearts small
  • 3/4 lb purple artichokes small
  • 5 1/2 oz green peppers small
  • 1 cup "18-day" radishes an early harvest variety sometimes called French breakfast radishes
  • 2 oz black Niçoise olives the Cailletier varietal
  • 3/4 lb Broad (fava) beans shelled if in season
  • 7 oz Canned Tuna, in olive oil
  • 8 Salted Anchovies about 16 fillets
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 Eggs hardboiled and shelled
  • 8 to 12 Basil Leaves to taste
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • 7 oz Cucumber

Instructions
 

  • Wash the vegetables. Clean the radishes, keeping them whole with the tender leaves. Garnish a broad dish, previously rubbed with garlic (using a peeled clove), with mesclun (mixed salad leaves).
  • Cut the tomatoes into quarters, place them on mesclun leaves, and add salt.
  • Finely chop the white part of the celery and the soft part (the heart) of artichokes, green peppers and spring onions.
  • Add small broad beans (in season).
  • Add the tuna, leaving large pieces.
  • Wash the basil and snip pieces of the leaves for decoration, along with the hardboiled eggs cut into quarters, the anchovy fillets and the black olives.
  • At the last minute, pour the olive oil on top, add the ground pepper and toss the salad in front of the guests.
  • When serving, ensure that the ingredients are distributed evenly on each plate.
Keyword Artichokes, Cucumber, Peppers, Salads, Vegetable
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recipe Variations:

Warm Salad Nicoise from Provence
This warm salad is quick to prepare for lunch or a light dinner. Serve with some crusty baguette. For a larger crowd, simply double the quantities.
Check out this recipe
Warm Salad Nicoise Recipe Provenca
Salade Niçoise
My version of this meal-sized salad from Nice for the purists and the rest of us.
Check out this recipe
Make Perfect Salade Niçoise
Salade Niçoise
A lovely collection of fresh potatoes, tomatoes, olives, beans, herbs, and tuna on a delightful bed of crisp green lettuce dressed with a light and tangy vinaigrette and anchovy filets.
Check out this recipe
Salade Niçoise Tastes of Provence
Niçoise Salad
What is a true Niçoise salad? An authentic Niçoise is made with raw vegetables; only the eggs are cooked. You have anchovies or tuna, never the two. This salad can be a complete meal with some good bread and a glass of rosé!
Check out this recipe
Nicoise Salad Cooking Classes Provence @venisenprovence

A Sweet, Surprising Finish

La surpenante et délicieuse swiss chard pie aka tourte de blette.

A Mediterranean pastry with Swiss chard? It sounds strange, I agree! First, let me explain that this vegetable does not have much to do with Switzerland; it is native to the Italian island of Sicily. The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Arabs ate chard and its beet cousins. However, a Swiss botanist described the plant for the first time in a botanical book from the 15th century, hence the name. Swiss chard is widely used in Niçoise cuisine, growing quickly and abundantly in the region. Its taste and nutritional qualities (full of iron) make it a perfect ingredient. Chard has a subtle flavour and can be cooked in many ways. It goes perfectly with sweet dishes, too!

Sometimes, I accompany my friend Rosa’s customers on her “Street food tour of Nice” in the old town https://www.petitsfarcis.com/product/private-nice-street-food-tour/. I love the moment when we arrive at the Tourte de Blette tasting. It’s always the same scenario. The clients’ expression is at first rather dubious when I tell them they’re going to taste a dessert – a sweet dish, that is – made with Swiss chard! They shyly take a small piece with their fingertips, then pop it in their mouths. Then I see an expression of astonishment, relief, and finally, a smile expressing the pleasure of tasting something new and delicious!

Afterwards, they often finish their chard pie by licking their fingers, on which a little powdered sugar remains, so as not to lose a crumb of their delight. Chard pie is the perfect dessert for a typical summer niçoise meal!

Swiss Chard Pie Dessert from Nice

Swiss Chard Pie - Tourta de Blea - Tourte aux Blette Sucrée

Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice
This delicious dessert contains raisins, dry cheese, pinenuts, and apples. Enjoy! 
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cuisine Nissarde, French, Provencal
Servings 8 People

Ingredients
 
 

For the Pastry:

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 5 oz Granulated Sugar
  • 3.5 oz Icing Sugar for decoration
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 pinch of Salt
  • Water if necessary

For the Filling:

  • 3 lbs Chard Leaves thin-ribbed, preferably white chard
  • 2 oz Cow’s Mountain Cheese (grated dry) such as Sbrinz cheese produced in Switzerland that is like parmesan
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 2 to 3 Russet Apples
  • 3.5 oz Pinenuts
  • 1 oz Brown Raisins
  • 1 oz White Raisins
  • 5 oz Rum for soaking the raisins
  • 1.5 oz Brandy
  • 5 oz Granulated or Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Anise Seeds

OPTIONAL (Add to Filling)

  • 2 oz Almond Powder

Instructions
 

To prepare the Pastry:

  • Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and then, in the centre, the diced butter, eggs and olive oil. Mix using the fingertips for a few minutes to obtain a smooth and homogeneous paste (adding a few drops of water if necessary), and place it in a cool place covered with a cloth. Let it rest during the preparation of the filling.

To prepare the Filling:

  • For this tourte, use only the green part of the Swiss chard. Cut the chard into fine strips the width of a finger.
  • Plunge the chard into a basin of cold water and wash it three times. Soaking removes the bitterness from the chard.
  • Using a salad spinner or a dishcloth, dry the chard strips.
  • Mix the eggs well, in a bowl, to omelette consistency with the brown sugar, brandy, drained raisins in rum, olive oil, cheese, and pine nuts. Mix with your hands. Add the chard and a peeled diced apple.

Putting it Together:

  • Flatten two-thirds of the pastry to 3 to 4 mm thick with a rolling pin on a worktop generously covered with flour, making a round which will be placed in the pie dish, allowing it to overflow the edges of the pan.
  • Add the filling to the top of the pastry to a thickness of about two centimetres. Add the juice from the bottom of the bowl, then spread the apple strips one beside the other.
  • Spread the last third of the pastry to the diameter of the dish and, after wetting the edges, place it on the filling by carefully closing the two borders to seal them well.
  • Using a fork, make small chimneys on the surface or make "birds' beaks" with small scissors.
  • Put the pie in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for 40 minutes. The surface should be golden. When the pastry edges recede from the dish, the tourte is cooked.
  • Remove the tourte from the oven and sprinkle it with granulated sugar.
  • When it is cool, sprinkle it with icing sugar to decorate before serving it at room temperature.
Keyword Dessert, Swiss Chard
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Bon appétit!

PS: If you cook this whole meal, please think of my grandma. She is called « mémé Cathy »

For Pinterest Fans

French Riviera Summer Menu 2024

What is Cuisine Nissard?

Greatly influenced by the city’s proximity to Italy and the historically fluid French-Italian border, Nice’s cuisine draws a delicious path from its past and ready access to ingredients. Traditional recipes from Nice typically include local ingredients, such as Swiss chard, pumpkin, tomatoes, cabbage, seafood, cheeses, and olives.

Le Cercle de la Capelina d’Or, a dedicated group of culinary experts, established the “Cuisine Nissarde” label in 1995. The Tourism Office now manages the brand, but the concept remains the same: a dedication to promoting the historical cuisine of Nice. Restaurateurs serving traditional dishes with local ingredients are awarded the label and allowed to display the icon. This distinction rewards chefs who use quality, seasonal ingredients in their traditional recipes. The Nice Tourist Office maintains a list of establishments meeting the Cuisine Nissarde.

Read More About Cuisine Nissarde

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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