‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Has a Foolproof Lasagna Recipe for an Easy Dinner

Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten has made a living from her easy recipes. Garten has written a dozen cookbooks through the years, and she’s been the star of her own Food Network show since 2003. Garten has simple tricks for creating the best recipes — including her foolproof lasagna weeknight dinner.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten doesn’t have any professional culinary training

Surprisingly, Garten is not a trained chef. Rather, she learned to cook using Julia Child’s cookbooks while she was living in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Jeffrey in the 1970s. But she once said in an interview with PBS that her “lack” of cooking knowledge has actually been a gift.

Garten can relate better to her audience, since she only knows as much as they do when it comes to developing recipes and combining flavors.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: ‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Gave Fans a Tour Of Her Pantry — and She Loves These Food Brands

How to make Ina Garten’s roasted vegetable lasagna

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
3/4 pound zucchini, unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
2/3 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
10 ounces lasagna noodles, such as De Cecco
16 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta
8 ounces creamy garlic and herb goat cheese, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 1/2 cups good bottled marinara sauce, such as Rao’s (40 ounces)
1 pound lightly salted fresh mozzarella, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper, and arrange eggplant and zucchini evenly in one layer, brushing them with the oil on both sides. Sprinkle vegetables with 1 tablespoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, and oregano. Roast 25 minutes, then remove from oven and add garlic to vegetables; roast another 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from oven and lower heat to 350 degrees.

Then, fill a large bowl with very hot water; supplement hot water with some boiling water to allow temperature to reach 140 degrees. Add noodles to water, swirling them occasionally to ensure they don’t stick together, for 15 minutes. Then, drain.

In an electric mixer bowl, combine ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and mix on low with a paddle attachment.

In a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1 cup of marinara along the bottom of the dish. Layer the vegetables, noodles, mozzarella, and ricotta mixture (in large dollups) twice to create two full layers of the lasagna, topping with the remaining 1 1/2 cups marinara and Parmesan. Cook 60-70 minutes or until lasagna has started to brown and bubble, then cool 10 minutes before serving.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten | Noam Galai/WireImage

Ina Garten has 3 easy tricks for hosting a pandemic dinner party 

Though things have certainly slowed down for Garten since the pandemic started, she still has three easy tricks to hosting a safe pandemic dinner party. As a sidenote, Garten only hosts parties with one other household to minimize spreading germs.

Garten’s first trick is to create a cozy centerpiece, since she’s only entertaining guests outside and keeping everyone six feet apart. “Although we’re sitting far apart, I want it to feel cozy, so I fill the tables with flowers and candles,” Garten wrote on her blog.

Her second trick is to set up outdoor heaters, plus build a fire and provide blankets, to keep guests comfortable and enjoying the night. And thirdly, Garten insists on keeping the menu simple. There’s too much back and forth between the kitchen and outdoor area for her to create a complex meal; she even suggested pizza and a salad as the perfect dinner menu.