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Ina Garten’s New Cookbook Is Almost as Easygoing as She Is

The Barefoot Contessa is back with a brand new cookbook, Go-To Dinners

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By Vogue US | December 14, 2022 | Recipes

Ina Garten, by her own admission, no longer holds a strict definition of what’s considered ‘dinner’. It started during the pandemic: sick of constantly cooking and cleaning like the rest of us, she started gravitating toward dishes that were quicker to make, took fewer pans, or, well, little-to-no cooking at all. (As Garten herself famously says: “Store-bought is fine.”)

All the while, she was writing her 13th cookbook. This newly-minted culinary ethos began to bleed into it: Garten found herself including more one-pot recipes; playing around with the idea of breakfast-for-lunch meals; incorporating more leftovers; and developing light, easy-to-arrange dishes that could be served at any time of the day.

The result? Go-To Dinners, out by Clarkson Potter. There’s Tuscan white bean soup, which can be prepped ahead of time and reheated whenever, or chicken in a pot with orzo (one of Garten’s favorites) which feeds a family in one dish. Self-described “two-fer” recipes use leftovers from a previous one: make a vanilla pound cake, and then a few days later, serve the remaining slices with fresh strawberry rhubarbs for breakfast.

There are also plenty of boards: Garten’s version of platters, with mostly no-cook ingredients. A Ploughman’s lunch board includes honey-baked ham, eggs, paté, cheddar cheese, and more, while a spread on antipasto boards teaches one how to execute the Italian cuisine classic.

Ahead of the book’s release, Vogue caught up with the beloved author, Food Network host, and chef about new recipes, old recipes, and that viral cosmopolitan.

Vogue: What qualifies as a go-to dinner for you?

Ina Garten: I think it’s something that you want to make over and over again because it’s easy, it’s delicious, and it’s really satisfying.

You wrote in the introduction about how the pandemic influenced this cookbook. How did that event change the way you think about cooking?

Everything was just harder—like it was for everybody. I was doing a recipe every day for Instagram, I was working on a cookbook, [and] in the middle of everything else, I was making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. We didn't know whether we’d buy more groceries. We didn’t know whether we could go to a restaurant or order out. At some point, I was just shut down. I was completely exhausted from cooking. I thought, “Okay, I really have to change how I’m cooking in order to do this.”

So I found that making something simple—like breakfast for dinner—was really satisfying. Roasted vegetables with a poached egg on top, or a big bowl of soup, or a one-pot dinner like chicken in the pot with orzo. Or even just a board—like a glass of wine and a Ploughman’s lunch board with ham, cheese, eggs, and celery. Just simple things. We haven’t actually gone back to doing the traditional meat, vegetable, and starch again. It’s easier, it’s fun, it’s less serious, and it’s all in one big thing.

One of the wonderful things about this cookbook is some of the recipes are updates of old favorites. One classic that I love—and the internet loves—has gotten the nickname of Engagement Chicken.

I just updated it with spring vegetables, which was great.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex as well as Emily Blunt and John Krasinski say the chicken played a role in their romance.

I love that about it—because cooking is really something you do for someone you love. We’re used to it from the time we were kids, when our mothers cooked for us. When you walk in the door and there’s a chicken roasting, it just smells like home. There's nothing more appealing than just roasting a chicken.

I think people will be excited to see the Cosmopolitan, which really caught on during the pandemic.

That was quite a surprise. I did it just because I was here by myself, and I thought it’d be fun to do. Now it’s probably going to be in my obituary.

I think so, too. As I was going through this cookbook I thought to myself, “I hope she put in a Cosmopolitan,” and you did. I'm so excited to have that recipe.

There’s a twist on this one—I made a classic Cosmo in the video, and this one is watermelon, which is particularly good. My friends, Rob Marshall and John DeLuca [the filmmakers] gave me this recipe. I just adore it. We made it all summer.

Written by Elise Taylor

This interview has been condensed and originally appeared on Vogue US