‘Barefoot Contessa’ Star Ina Garten Says This Dish Is Her ‘Secret Feel-Good Food’

When a cooking phenomenon as beloved and popular as the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten says one particular plate of food is the one that turns her frowns into happy days, we listen.

What’s interesting, and yet completely understandable, is the simplicity of the meal Garten loves so much.

Here’s what she had to say.

Food Network's 'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten remotely accepts a Daytime Emmy Award in 2021 for her program, 'Cook Like a Pro'
Food Network’s ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten remotely accepts a Daytime Emmy Award in 2021 for her program, ‘Cook Like a Pro’ |
Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 via Getty Images

Garten has said all of her cookbooks are ‘about comfort food’

It can go without saying, but the Food Network host has a strong following of fans for a reason: her recipes and approach to food are all about enjoying life, your guests, and a good meal together, as she noted in her recent cookbook, Modern Comfort Food: “you can be miserable before eating a cookie and you can be miserable after eating a cookie, but you can never be miserable while you’re eating a cookie.”

With this latest cookbook, she told NPR, she knew she couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. What had started out as a cookbook set to publish after the presidential elections in 2020 eventually became her pandemic cookbook. Garten was grateful to offer home cooks a great collection of recipes to turn to during a trying time.

“I think I added one or two sentences to the intro, because it seemed delirious to put out a book that didn’t acknowledge the pandemic,” she said. “I mean, this is kind of where I live. I mean, all of my books really are about comfort food. This is the time that you need smashed eggs on toast, and beef stew that’s been braised with red wine and cognac. You need things that are really satisfying. It’s funny, this was like the easiest book I’ve ever written, but I sat down and thought about all of those flavors that we remember from childhood.”

The Food Network star says this dish is her happy place

As Garten pointed out, it’s the simplest childhood dishes that bring us the most comfort and even joy. And for her, there’s nothing quite like an egg salad sandwich to make all seem right with the world.

“Everyone has a secret “feel-good” food, and mine is egg salad,” she wrote in her Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. “Anyone can make a perfectly fine egg salad, but I like mine with mustard and lots of fresh dill. When I’m tired and cranky, a simple egg salad sandwich on white bread is the perfect lunch to change my mood.”

How to make Garten’s Smoked Salmon & Egg Salad Tartines

The cook’s smoked salmon and egg salad open-faced sandwich is a beautiful meal for any time of the day. To make this dish, a dozen hard-boiled eggs are pulsed in a food processor until they break up (be careful you don’t purée the eggs, Garten notes). Place the chopped eggs in a bowl and stir them together with one-third cup of mayonnaise, two teaspoons of mustard, one tablespoon of dill, and salt and pepper to taste.

Toast (or grill, Garten suggests) eight slices of a hearty bread, such as round French bread, placing one slice of “good smoked salmon” on each piece of bread. Garten adds in the cookbook that “smoked salmon is sometimes referred to as ‘lox,’ but lox is really salt-cured rather than smoked. Look for Norwegian or Scottish salmon, if you can find it.”

Spread the egg salad on top of the salmon and enjoy this simple yet satisfying dish.

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