French-Style Entertaining For Bastille Day

Set the table for a no-fuss French feast

It's hot out there! Leave the oven off and join us for No Cook Month. All August we're keeping it cool with recipes and entertaining tips without all that sweaty baking.

You're going to need plenty of butter on Monday night. Usually you could get away with a stick of whatever, but a fat brick of sweet butter is crucial to an effortless Bastille Day dinner, where there's no real cooking.

It doesn't have to be delicately flavored and super creamy and churned in Charentes, but that would be nice, wouldn't it?

When everything else is piled on the table—the ripe tomatoes and the very sharp knife you'll use to slice them, the cold breakfast radishes you'll hit with a glitter of salt, the duck liver pâté and wee cornichons—you'll be glad you splurged on some of the fancy stuff.

Keep chilled bottles of wine at the ready—but don't fuss. Let people make their own dinner, sandwiching smears of pork rillettes or runny cheese in crusty bread, slicing their own saucisson sec when the reserves run low. Tell yourself: This is what the French do when they don't feel like turning on the oven.

You got this far without cooking; dessert should be a bowl of ripe strawberries and sour cherries, and maybe some plums and apricots you bought in the morning.

Did you forget it was Bastille Day? Don't worry about fireworks and sparklers. Just sit outside and sip rosé until the sky goes from bright blue to deep purple. Pretty soon, the fireflies will start.