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When you’re too stressed to feed yourself, no-cook dishes come to the rescue

Ceviche spiced with sumac and Aleppo pepper
No-cook dishes, like this ceviche spiced with sumac and Aleppo pepper, save us from cooking when there’s no energy to spare.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )

I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all so very tired. Whether it’s the COVID-19 spikes, the election or the stress of the upcoming holiday and whether you will, or should, make that cross-country trip to see your elderly Aunt Betty, there’s a lot going on. And we could all use a break. So instead of resorting to stuffing your face with junk food or eating cake for all three meals a day (no judgment here!), here are some no-cook dishes that are appropriate for the season and take minimal effort to prepare.

If you’re a seafood lover, then ceviche is the obvious answer, but this one is seasoned with tart sumac and warming Aleppo pepper. Shaved king trumpet mushrooms serve as a meaty foil to peppery arugula in this simple salad. If you want a heartier vegetable salad, this recipe takes turnips and rutabagas and gives them the slaw treatment, coated in a tart lemon vinaigrette. In a departure from the typical apple flavor pairings, here the fruit is shaved and drizzled with lime juice and Chinese black vinegar before being showered with peanuts and cilantro for a bright, bracing snack. And while this recipe is made for turning leftover ratatouille into a refreshing cold soup, virtually any leftover roasted vegetable you have will work. It’s all about taking what you’ve got and making it work for you in the simplest way.

Ceviche with Sumac and Aleppo pepper

Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 6
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A main dish that lets the fridge do all the work, this ceviche is great eaten on toasted bread or tostadas.

Raw shaved mushrooms make a great foil to peppery arugula and Parmesan in this classic combo.

Raw turnip and rutabaga salad with watercress

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 8
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Crunchy, cold and refreshing, this salad shows turnips and rutabagas in a whole new light.

Shaved Apple and Peanut Salad

Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Shaved apples and a few bold ingredients makes this a refreshing snack to pull together in minutes.

Cold ratatouille soup

Time 10 minutes
Yields Serves 4
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A great treatment for any leftover roast vegetable, turn ratatouille into no-cook soup with homemade chicken stock.

Ask the cooks

What is the best mixture of spices for fajitas, and how do you know what to use?

— kwanofyourheart, via Instagram

Some spice mixes are classics because their parts work well together and taste great. Ground coriander and cumin is one such pairing and is the basis for a lot of Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisines like the Southwestern flavor profile in the U.S. They form the foundation of the seasonings that are often used to spice up flank steak for fajitas. Chile — with an “e” — powder is the ground form of a singular chile, and it also comes into the fajita mix but can vary, depending on the flavor of chile you like the best: ancho, New Mexico, chipotle, etc. (Chili — with an “i” — powder denotes a separate spice mix that uses primarily ground New Mexico chiles mixed with coriander and cumin, along with garlic and onion powders.) Dried Mexican oregano also is essential in the fajita spice mix.

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Start with equal parts ground cumin and coriander and then try half a part of any chile powder you like. Finish with a quarter-part of dried oregano and cook with it. If you like it, stick with that ratio. But if you find you want more heat, add more chile powder next time. Love coriander but not so much cumin? Adjust accordingly. Play around until you find the right balance for your taste.

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