5 Fabulous Pastries (Plus 5 Fresh French Recipes) to Celebrate a Balanced Bastille Day

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Today is La Fête Nationale, the national holiday of France, known in English-speaking countries as Bastille Day. Well, around here we just call it: "Excuse to Eat French Food Day."

If, like us, French food makes you immediately imagine fabulous pastries, here are five amazing ways to make real French goodies at home, and then, to balance out the butter, five recipes that show the best of fresher, lighter French food.

France has inspired my cooking (and life) in so many ways, from the luxuriously late (and wine-driven!) dinners I've eaten in Paris, to the simple, vegetable-forward cooking of the south. But perhaps France's greatest contributions to our tables (and waistlines?) has been through its buttery pastries. Here are five favorites that you can truly make at home.

5 Fabulous Pastries

  1. How to Make Classic French Madeleines
  2. Recipe: Christmas Croquembouche
  3. Recipe: Raspberry-Coconut French Macarons
  4. How to Make Kouign Amann at Home
  5. How to Make and Shape Homemade Croissants

But pastries (and boeuf bourguignon, and French onion soup) aren't all that French cooking has to offer. Personally I love the way the French do vegetables —especially in the southern regions of the country. Here are a few recipes that express the relaxed style of French cooking, from street food socca to great ratatouille.

5 Fresh French Recipes

  1. One-Pot Recipe: Easy French Ratatouille
  2. Dinner Recipe: Classic Salad Niçoise
  3. Vegan Recipe: Quick and Tangy Artichoke Barigoule
  4. How To Cook Mussels on the Stovetop
  5. How to Make Socca: A Naturally Gluten-Free Chickpea Flatbread

Any special plans for Bastille Day? (Mine include a bottle of rosé and perhaps a loaf of this savory breakfast cake.)

(Image credits: Dana Velden; Guest of The Kitchn; Tessa Huff; Emma Christensen; Nealey Dozier; Leela Cyd; Faith Durand)