Eat in the South of France without flying there

These healthy recipes from Southern France will bring a sunny spirit to your dining room.

Tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs, garlic -- the iconic ingredients of the South of France can turn a meal into something magical simply by showing up. "The flavors of Provençal food tend to be direct and uncomplicated, reflecting the sharp clarity of the light and the landscape," writes Richard Olney in his classic cookbook Simple French Food.

Without the distractions of heavy sauces and elaborate preparations, health-minded cooks can find endless opportunities in such a cuisine. We can't fly you to Avignon, but with these inspired recipes from our database, we happily offer a taste.

Dress to Impress

You've chosen the juiciest vine-ripened tomato, gorgeous greens and herbs -- don't undermine them with a second-class dressing. For a simple vinaigrette, choose the best vinegars and oils, and mix well: "A good ratio," according to Olney," is about one part of vinegar to four or five parts of oil." To cut calories, up the ratio of vinegar or use mustard to thicken your dressing.

Get Close to the Ground

Grow your own ingredients if possible; visit the nearest farmers' market if not. And try moving your meal outdoors: It may not feel quite like Aix-en-Provence, but dining under the sky can be a simple and lovely change of pace.

Portions á la Provençe

The secret that many French women -- and men -- know is that eating small servings helps you maintain a healthy weight. Downsize your dishes and you can say oui to dinner and to the cheese plate.

Bold provencal entrees

Herb-Rubbed Steaks with Olives Provencal

Sauteed Cod Provencale

Pasta with Roasted Provencal Vegetable Sauce

Grilled Chicken Salad Provencal

Tomatoes four ways

Tomato Basil Concasse

Provencal Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Provencal Tomato Soup with Rice

Ratatouille on the Run

Sprightly salads

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette

Black Radish Salad

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Salad with Tomatoes

Salade Composee


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