How to Cook Without an Oven

Gourmet, Romulo YanesGourmet, Romulo YanesCourtney Balestier, Allure magazine

An interview with Eric Ripert, the executive chef at New York City's Le Baernardin, host of PBS's
Avec Eric, and a frequent guest judge on Top Chef.

Come summer, you can usually find me grilling outdoors. I just can't take the stuffiness of the kitchen. So when I prepare meals indoors, I rely on these tricks-none of which require an oven.

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Cut down on prep.
In the heat, no one wants to cook from scratch. Personalize store-bought ingredients: I boost goat cheese with chives, crushed garlic, olive oil, and cracked pepper. Add some prosciutto-wrapped melon, charcuterie, and crusty bread, and you have a buffet. People do like to graze in warm weather, so they appreciate variety.

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Maximize flavor.
Mediterranean food, like couscous salad, is light but still has soul. Just add curry, raisins, coarsely chopped scallions and tomatoes, and crushed mint leaves. Fresh herbs are vital: I add parsley, cilantro, and basil to salads and chilled soups like gazpacho.

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Rethink salads. They don't have to be made up of romaine hearts and spinach leaves. I love the heartiness of a raw corn salad, sliced zucchini and lemon, or fennel salad with grated Swiss.

Look to the sea. If you know of a good fishmonger, get oysters and clams to put on ice. And you can't go wrong with tartares or ceviche.

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