Ina Garten’s 3 Make-Ahead Appetizers That Are Perfect for Summer

Love the Barefoot Contessa? Want Ina Garten appetizers that are perfect for summer? Check out these Barefoot Contessa recipes from the Food Network star’s Make It Ahead cookbook. They’re easy appetizers that don’t take much cooking at all — great for hot summer days — and, best of all, they can be made in advance for a “How easy is that?” moment.

1. Greek Mezze Platter with Thyme Roasted Red Peppers

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This is an “easy” Barefoot Contessa recipe, according to Food Network, although it does take some time to prepare. The Greek Mezze Platter is a combination of store-bought ingredients, because, as Garten often says, “store-bought is fine,” and homemade dip. 

Garten starts by combining fennel seeds, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Then she lays slices of feta cheese on a serving platter before sprinkling each one with the seasoning mixture. Next, the celebrity chef adds sprigs of fresh thyme and olives. Finally, she drizzles everything with a little bit of “good” olive oil. (Garten’s go-to olive oil brand is Olio Santo.)

After four hours marinating in the fridge, Garten lets the feta cheese come to room temperature. Meanwhile, she cuts toasts some pita triangles. Before serving, she completes the platter with store-bought roasted red peppers and stuffed grape leaves.

2. Parmesan Kale Chips

Ina Garten smiles as she holds a spoon on 'Today'
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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This is one of Garten’s simplest make-ahead appetizers. Her Parmesan Kale Chips have just four ingredients: flat-leaf kale, parmesan, “good” olive oil, and kosher salt. How easy is that?

She puts leaves of kale on a sheet pan, her most-used kitchen tool, covered with parchment paper. Then she brushes each one with olive oil. A quick sprinkle of kosher salt and Garten puts them in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.  

When time is up the Barefoot Contessa adds parmesan cheese to the kale chips. Then she puts them back in the oven so the cheese can melt. After about five minutes Garten takes them out of the oven to cool.

That’s all there is to it. Enjoy a crunchy, salty, easy-to-make appetizer in a matter of minutes. Or prepare them in advance for the make-ahead option.

3. Bruschettas with Sautéed Chard

Ina Garten smiles as she arrives at 'Ina Garten in Conversation with Danny Meyer'
Ina Garten | Noam Galai/WireImage

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10 ingredients, this is another simple Barefoot Contessa recipe. Garten begins by boiling chard for exactly three minutes. Then she sautées it in a pan with garlic and “good” olive oil.

To make the bruschetta Garten simply cuts slices of bread and toasts them. Once they’re golden brown she rubs them with the cut side of fresh garlic. To serve, the Barefoot Contessa puts the chard on top of the toast. The final touch is adding lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and Parmesan cheese.

Be careful not to assemble everything too early otherwise the bread will get soggy because it absorbs the liquid from the sautéed chard.