Ina Garten Once Revealed the ‘Most Overrated Tool’ in the Kitchen

Want to have a kitchen like Ina Garten’s? Don’t bother buying one kitchen gadget the longtime host of Barefoot Contessa once called “overrated.” Instead, stick to items Garten keeps onhand in the “barn” where she films her cooking show and tests cookbook recipes. 

Ina Garten once called a pasta maker ‘overrated’

Ina Garten stands in the kitchen of her "barn"
Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Garten spoke with Redbook in 2010 while promoting her seventh cookbook, Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips. She didn’t hold back about her feelings regarding pasta makers. 

“The most overrated tool: a pasta maker,” Garten said. “Why make it when you can buy it? It’s a lot of work!”

Garten’s comment might not be surprising to her fans. She got her start making simple food at her Barefoot Contessa store. After selling her business in the ‘90s, Garten published a book of recipes that made her store a hit with Hamptonites. They filled the pages of her first cookbook, 1999’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Upon getting her own Food Network show in 2002, Garten embraced store-bought. So much so the phrase “store-bought is fine” has become one of her famous lines on Barefoot Contessa.

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ host prefers store-bought noodles and pasta sauce 

Garten favors high-quality store-bought items she often refers to as “good” on her show. She might say “good olive oil” or “good chocolate” but what does it really mean? As far as noodles and pasta sauce are concerned, it means sticking to Garten’s go-to brands. The Barefoot Contessa’s favorite store-bought pasta sauce? Rao’s Homemade.

“I think you can spend the entire day making good marinara sauce, or you can buy Rao’s Marinara sauce, which I think is just fantastic,” she told Bon Appetit in October 2018. “It’s great for lasagna. It’s great for pasta. It’s great for putting together a really fast dinner.”

A jar sells for anywhere from $5 to $8 at the time of publication, according to Rao’s Homemade

As for store-bought noodles Garten likes, she keeps her pantry stocked with two different brands.

“I have basically two categories of pasta,” the Barefoot Contessa explained. “I most often used De Cecco pasta, which I think is really good quality. I’ll use any shape, like fusilli, penne, bow ties, whatever I’m in the mood for.”

The other? When Garten’s in the mood to splurge, she opts for “fresh pasta” taste from the store.

“For a really luxurious dish, I love Cipriani Tagliarelle,” she said. “It’s basically linguini,” she added. “It tastes like fresh pasta, but better (I don’t happen to love fresh pasta. I find it, very often, a little too doughy for me). It cooks in three minutes, and it’s just fabulous.”

Ina Garten’s must-have kitchen tools are simple

Like her approach to cooking, the Barefoot Contessa sticks to classic kitchen tools. She steers clear of trendy gadgets, keeping the kitchen where she films Barefoot Contessa and develops recipes stocked with easily accessible tools.

In a video for NYT Cooking, she toured her “barn” kitchen revealing what exactly she keeps in her pantry and on her kitchen counter. Garten always has a few oven thermometers as well as timers. She uses a butcher block cutting board and relies on a kitchen scale for accurate measurements. The cookbook author also keeps a jar of tasting spoons on the counter. As Garten says, “How easy is that?”