I've spent years cooking all 1,300+ of the celebrity chef Ina Garten's recipes.
My favorite dinner recipes of hers include eggs in purgatory and weeknight Bolognese.
I love her easy recipes for chicken with creamy mustard sauce and rigatoni with sausage and fennel.
As life gets busy with school, work, holidays, and social obligations, we're left with little time to spend cooking.
Luckily, the celebrity chef Ina Garten has plenty of easy weeknight meals that are low effort but high reward. I should know, as I spent seven years cooking my way through the Barefoot Contessa's entire 1,350+ recipe repertoire.
Ina is a master of distilling recipes to their essence, helping home cooks create tasty meals with the best quality ingredients they can afford while pulling out the most delicious flavors. Below, I'm sharing 10 of my favorite easy recipes from her cookbooks.
Most of these recipes should get dinner on the table in under an hour — many will get it there in just 30 minutes.
Roasted sausages and grapes sound a little funny, but the dish is amazing.
"Foolproof," page 137
This sausage-and-grapes recipe was the biggest surprise of the entire project.
The idea of roasted grapes wasn't all that appealing, but with only five ingredients, I figured I'd give it a shot. It was heaven.
The dish has the ideal balance of sweet and salty, and the grapes' flavor concentrates, creating a wine-like pop of sweetness. I'm with Ina that a pool of creamy polenta is the easy, delicious base to complete this meal.
Seared salmon with spicy red-pepper aioli is easy and tasty.
"Modern Comfort Food," page 122
Ina's trick of searing the salmon on the stovetop and finishing in the oven leads to tender, perfect salmon every time.
The spicy aioli infused with chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, lime juice, and roasted red peppers is the ideal sauce to complete the dish.
I swear by Ina's rigatoni with sausage and fennel.
"Cooking for Jeffrey," page 114
Growing up in the 1990s, Hamburger Helper made regular appearances at our table. I cackled when I saw someone say they thought of this dish as the adult version of the beefy packaged pasta dish.
But, as Ina would say, this could be like Hamburger Helper with the volume turned up.
If I were forced to pick my all-time favorite Ina recipe, it would be this one. Pasta, sausage, and tender fennel in a tomato cream sauce? Yes, please.
Her easy Parmesan "risotto" is great for a vegetarian dinner.
"How Easy Is That?" page 160
If you're looking for a hearty vegetarian option, this "risotto" is for you. Even better, it doesn't require standing over the hot stove for 45 minutes stirring — you simply bake in the oven and then stir in all the flavorings.
In addition to adding peas, I like to sauté asparagus or other veggies and add them in at the end to make this a more well-rounded meal.
The chicken thighs with creamy mustard sauce come out tender and delicious.
"Cook Like a Pro," page 91
If I never had to eat another chicken breast in my life, I'd be happy. Chicken thighs are another story, and one of my all-time favorite ways to enjoy them is in this mustard cream sauce.
It's a simple dish with a high reward — crispy, juicy chicken thighs swimming in a white-wine, creme-fraîche, and Dijon sauce. I love serving with rice and charred broccoli to sop up all that phenomenal sauce.
The chef's weeknight Bolognese can be ready fast.
"How Easy Is That?," page 154
For those days you're craving a stick-to-your-bones meal but don't have the four hours to slowly simmer a sauce, Ina has you covered with this pasta dish.
The Bolognese is a very flexible recipe with crushed tomato — over the years, we've added and subtracted ingredients based on preference to make it our own.
Her grilled New York strip steak is easy to prepare.
"Make It Ahead," page 118
One of our favorite easy weeknight meals is a steak salad, and the rub for this steak is our go-to — it's sweet, spicy, and earthy with the surprising addition of ground coffee.
We just dress greens in a balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette, add avocado, tomato, and onions, and serve with the sliced steak on top.
Tomato soup with grilled-cheese croutons is the ultimate comfort food.
"Foolproof," page 56
Here, she takes a classic tomato-soup-and-grilled-cheese combo and creates a dish that kids will love but is complex enough to be appreciated by adults.
Who wouldn't love a creamy tomato soup with orzo topped with buttery grilled cheese oozing with melty Gruyere?
Eggs in purgatory is perfect for nights when you want breakfast for dinner.
"Go-To Dinners," page 68
Like Ina, I love breakfast for dinner. Serve this eggs-in-purgatory dish with crusty bread and a simple side salad and dinner is ready.
The eggs are cooked in a flavorful sauce, and store-bought is fine. In this recipe, Ina infuses jarred arrabbiata sauce with onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and rosemary.
The recipe only serves two, but it's easily scalable.
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