The chefs at the French Culinary Institute believe that people have switched to Italian cooking because they do not realize French food can be just as light, fresh, and healthy. Jacques Pepin and his cohorts, Alain Sailhac, Jacques Torres, and Andre Soltner, are out to prove that French cooking really can be deliciously low in fat in The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking. At the stove, Pepin and company offer 40 low-fat menus, all luscious three-course meals made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Dishes are prepared using familiar classic French techniques like poaching, braising, and roasting. First courses range from a light Watercress, Chicory and Radish in Beet Vinaigrette salad to elegant Leek and Roasted Pepper Tartlets. Main courses feature meat, poultry, or seafood. Desserts are for the most part fruit-based, although chocolate gets its due in a soufflé and a rich flourless torte.
Few people will make the entire menu for a week-night dinner, but even a singular dish, like salmon cooked in its own juice with broccoli florets, would be fine served with your own green salad and fruit for dessert. Even when you bring home roast chicken or plain grilled fish, adding the earthy Mushroom Sauce or zesty Tomato Vinaigrette will add immeasurably to your meal. --Dana Jacobi