My Favorite French Way Not to Cook

How Not to Cook--French Style

There’s a heat wave all over the country, and if you’re looking for a way to dine well, without cooking, opt out of the kitchen French style. In France, you really don’t have to cook at all to eat a great meal at home. Case in point, this summer meal I put together often with items I simply picked up from the traiteur (deli), cheese shop, and charcuterie.

Here in the U.S., you can put together something similar, though alas, you may have to prep a few things yourself (at least, no deli here in my corner of Amerique profonde sells celeris remoulade!). Anyway, here’s the menu. Buy and make enough to last you a few days so that you don’t even have to think about turning on the stove.

1. Cured meats, thinly sliced. I always include La Quercia Prosciutto, which is made just up the road from me in Norwalk, Iowa, but you can also include some of your favorite French or Italian cured meats. Or Spanish or high-quality American, for that matter. Serve on a platter with some oeuf durs mayonnaises (hard-cooked eggs with mayo). Most US supermarkets will sell you eggs already cooked. Lucky French women have it even better–they can buy mayo in tubes so that they can be prettily piped on the eggs. Good olives and cornichons are a must.

2. A great deli salad (from a great deli). Every French deli sells celeris remoulade–celery root in a remoulade dressing. It’s as ubiquitous in France as coleslaw is here. Other faves are tabbouli, grated carrot salad, and roasted beets salad. Make your own, if need be.

3. A green salad with something extra. This one adds heartiness and great flavor to the meal with Comté cheese and walnuts. Simply toss matchstick-size pieces of Comté with butterhead lettuce, walnuts, and a mild vinaigrette.

Serve this simple spread with great baguette bread and butter (yes, the French do butter their bread, when they’re serving it with charcuterie…the sweet creaminess of the butter contrasts prosciutto beautifully). And pour some thoroughly chilled rosé—keep it cold, and keep it coming.

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