Ina Garten Has a ‘New Appreciation’ for 1 Food Because of the Coronavirus

Food is Ina Garten’s profession. She’s a Food Network star and a successful cookbook author. As the longtime host of Barefoot Contessa, the 72-year-old shares her recipes and tips.

But as someone who loves to spend time in the kitchen, even she gets sick of it. That’s where quick and easy meals come in. For Garten, that means turning to something she hasn’t liked in the past. 

Ina Garten offers tips on how to cook random pantry items

Ina Garten does a cooking segment on 'Today' Season 66
Ina Garten does a cooking segment on Today Season 66 | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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A celebrity chef with decades of experience, Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa, knows a lot about cooking. When lockdown began in March 2020 because of the coronavirus, she like many others, turned to pantry items for food.

In between sharing her own quarantine pantry staples, Garten helped her 2 million-plus Instagram followers make meals out of the random items they had in their own kitchens. She also provided some humor when a video of Garten making a massive cocktail went viral. 

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ host appreciates leftovers more

During an interview with NPR’s 1A on Dec. 22, 2020 — her and Jeffrey Garten’s 52nd wedding anniversary — the Barefoot Contessa discussed how her relationship with food has changed because of COVID-19. Specifically, how she’s come to appreciate leftovers, something she confessed to disliking before lockdown. 

“I’ve always hated leftovers but I’ve found that if we have to cook lunch and dinner every single day, which is pretty much what I’ve been doing, in addition to working on books, TV, and everything else that I do, I’ve kind of gotten a new appreciation for leftovers,” she said. 

Garten continued, saying now she’s better at turning leftovers into a completely different dish. 

“I’m better at figuring out a way to use something that’s leftover in a new way. That’s been fun. That’s been a new challenge,” she said. 

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Ina Garten’s easy holiday dinner doesn’t require turning on the stove

For those who don’t feel like cooking a big holiday meal but who want to celebrate without resorting to takeout, Garten has the answer. During the same interview, she shared a meal she and Jeffrey recently had. 

It consisted of a charcuterie board she assembled using salami, cheddar cheese, prosciutto, and other things to snack on. To go with it Garten made a “big green salad” she tossed with vinaigrette dressing.

She opened a bottle of wine and that was dinner. Garten “never turned on the stove” and it “felt celebratory.” As she says on Barefoot Contessa, “How easy is that?”

For those who want to do a little cooking, try Garten’s go-to holiday dinner she insists “isn’t complicated.”  And when all else fails, remember one of Garten’s famous Barefoot Contessa phrases, “Store-bought is fine.”

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