‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten’s Brunch Menu Is the Perfect Make-Ahead Meal With a Few Surprising Shortcuts

Ina Garten loves to entertain guests for a Sunday lunch or brunch because it provides a relaxed atmosphere and leaves the day free when it’s over. It also provides an opportunity to keep the menu “really simple,” which is always a bonus.

Ina Garten poses with one of her cookbooks in 2018
Ina Garten | Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Ina Garten revealed her favorite time of day to entertain guests

During an interview with Epicurious, Garten was asked the all-important question: “When is your favorite time to entertain?”

Garten shared her thoughts on why having a brunch or lunch gathering is the best choice. “Well, for me, Sunday afternoon — Sunday lunch — is the best time to entertain,” she explained. “Everybody’s done all their chores, they’re relaxed, nobody’s falling asleep or looking at their watch, saying, ‘Can I go home and go to bed?’”

“And the food is easy,” she continued. “You can make something really simple, like ricotta bruschetta with a salad, or just really easy things like a big pot of mussels with basil bread crumbs.”

“And you don’t need lots of courses, and you don’t need lots of cocktails,” Garten added. “You just need a good glass of wine and something absolutely delicious.”

Ina Garten recommends a perfect make-ahead brunch menu with some shortcuts

Garten loves to cook for her guests, but she doesn’t shy away from leaning on some shortcuts that make meal planning even easier.

The Barefoot Contessa star shared an easy tip for first-time hosts that can really apply to anyone when they’re entertaining. “Don’t make everything yourself,” she explained. “Your friends will have just as much fun if you go out and buy a fabulous cake at a bakery.”

Garten’s “go-to” brunch menu employs that idea perfectly, with some other no-fuss options that make a beautiful spread for guests without having to make everything herself.

A fan asked for a recommendation on the Barefoot Contessa website, wondering, “What are your go-to brunch recipes that you can make ahead of time?”

Garten offered up one recipe she cooks, an easy salad, some store-bought items, and the simplest dessert. “For brunch, I like to make a potato basil frittata, platters of smoked salmon, bagels, cream cheese, and in the summer, a fresh tomato salad,” she explained.

“For dessert, I serve a big platter of fresh fruit,” she added. “The frittata goes into the oven about an hour before you serve it, so everything is ready before the guests arrive.”

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The Barefoot Contessa star’s easy frittata recipe can be customized

Garten demonstrated how to make her potato basil frittata recipe on the Barefoot Contessa cooking show. “I actually find that you can use whatever’s leftover from dinner,” she noted. “If you had chicken and broccoli the night before, it makes a delicious frittata.”

Her recipe begins with cooking the potatoes, then working on the omelet mixture, which includes eggs, ricotta cheese, gruyere cheese, butter, basil, flour, and baking powder. After the egg mixture is added to the potatoes, the frittata bakes for 50 minutes to an hour until it’s “puffed and golden and delicious.”

You can find the full recipe on the Food Network website.