No cooking required

August 7, 2012

Editor’s note: This is our second annual no-cook issue. All the recipes you’ll find in print and online at washingtonpost.com/food can be composed without the stove or microwave. For more no-cook recipes, go to wapo.st/nocook2012.

It’s meteorologically impossible to pinpoint the exact temperature at which the idea of cooking — that is, using some form of heat to prepare a meal — becomes completely unpalatable. By this point in the season, though, it’s clear that summer’s cumulative sizzle can zap the enthusiasm for the kitchen. Dinner may need making each night, but it’s nice when it doesn’t bring on a deep sweat.

The goal is to develop non-cooking preparations that are at once attractive, inspiring and satisfying. The inspiring part demands some thought. Anybody can toss together a PB&J, but a meal should be more than just bread and condiments. Create a play on Sunday lox by pairing smoked salmon with caper ricotta and peppery quick pickles. Or stack an Italian panino with thinly sliced salami and a marinated fennel salad.

“Marinating” or wilting vegetables is one trick to these no-cook preparations. Another is employing meaty ingredients that need no heat. Cut a thick piece of fresh tuna into thin slices and drizzle them with an intense lemon vinaigrette. Toss store-bought rotisserie chicken with a hoisin-sesame sauce and Asian noodles. Or pair full-flavored smoked mozzarella with stale pita bread and greens.

For dessert, give traditional peaches and cream an Italian twist by fortifying the cream with mascarpone and fresh rosemary . Arrange the cream and sliced peaches on store-bought pizzelle and then, as with the rest of these dishes, head somewhere cool to feast.

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