‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Revealed Her 1 Secret to Enjoying Leftovers Days Later

Ina Garten has built an empire from her ability to create recipes that are easy enough for the average person yet tasty enough to feed a crowd. Garten’s Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa, is one of the channel’s longest-running programs; it’s been filming since 2003.

Garten is the first to admit she usually doesn’t like leftovers. But she’s finally found one secret to enjoying foods, even days later.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten in 2017
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten in 2017 | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten built a food empire on her easy recipes

When Garten was young, she didn’t imagine herself as a celebrity chef. However, Garten’s passion for cooking always existed. She often wanted to help her mother in the kitchen when she was younger, though her parents insisted she focus on her studies.

When Garten married her husband, Jeffrey Garten, they moved to Washington, D.C. Garten eventually took a job at the White House, but it wasn’t what she wanted. On a whim in 1978, she purchased a specialty foods store called Barefoot Contessa; she and Jeffrey relocated to East Hampton.

Garten’s specialty store caught the attention of high-profile people, including Martha Stewart. As it grew more famous, Garten decided to start writing cookbooks. The cookbooks and store eventually led to Garten’s cooking show. Fast forward more than 15 years, and Garten is now one of Food Network’s wealthiest chefs.

Ina Garten pours a cocktail while on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers'
Ina Garten pours a cocktail while on ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’ | Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Ina Garten has a new favorite recipe for utilizing leftovers

Garten loves to cook, but there was always something she stayed away from: leftovers. Despite cooking plenty of recipes, Garten didn’t love the days-old taste of eating previously cooked meals.

However, she eventually recognized that if she used leftovers to create an entirely new recipe, she could upcycle them rather than recycle them. “I’ve kind of wrapped myself around leftovers,” Garten said in an interview with TODAY reporter Willie Geist. “So if I’m making a short rib stew, the next day I’ll make it into a pasta sauce and put it on pasta. It’s not leftovers, it’s something better than that.” Garten has redefined leftovers by creating an entirely new dish.

Garten’s beef stew example is easy for anyone to recreate. She provides her beef stew recipe on her Barefoot Contessa blog, which can be paired with store-bought pasta the following day. Plus, as the stew sits overnight, it thickens even more to become the perfect sauce.

Though Garten has come around to leftovers, she was once a bit picky about eating meals the next day. And that’s not the only thing Garten has her own thoughts about. She also stresses that she won’t go near certain food trends — specifically, pineapple on pizza.

“Pineapple pizza — ugh,” she said in a separate video for TODAY. “Definitely not hot.” Garten also avoids cilantro at all costs. It is, undoubtedly, her least favorite food. “Not now, not ever,” she said of cooking with the popular herb.