Ina Garten’s ‘More Interesting’ Version of Her Typical Oatmeal Breakfast

TL; DR: 

  • Ina Garten’s typical breakfast is oatmeal with salt. 
  • A Whole-Grain Breakfast Bowl is what the Barefoot Contessa host calls a “more interesting” version of a bowl of oatmeal.
  • Ina Garten’s Whole-Grain Breakfast Bowl recipe includes barley, roasted hazelnuts, dates, and raspberries. 

Ina Garten is one of the many Food Network stars who love oatmeal. In fact, it’s her go-to breakfast. When she wants to spruce it up, she goes for a “more interesting” version of oatmeal, a whole-grain breakfast bowl.

Ina Garten almost always has oatmeal for breakfast 

She might be a cookbook author, but Garten doesn’t make a different Barefoot Contessa breakfast recipe every morning. On the contrary, she’s a creature of habit when it comes to the first meal of the day. She keeps it simple with oatmeal. And, as she told Bon Appetit in 2014, she doesn’t really stray. 

“I have the same thing for breakfast every single day, 365 days a year: McCann’s Irish oatmeal. It’s actually quick-cooking, and I do it in the microwave with milk and salt,” she said. 

“Most people don’t do their oatmeal with salt, and I think that without it, it just tastes like wallpaper paste,” Garten added. “With salt, I think it’s delicious.”

A Barefoot Contessa whole-grain breakfast bowl is a ‘more interesting’ version, according to Ina Garten

Ina Garten, who has a whole-grain breakfast bowl as a 'more interesting' alternative to oatmeal, smiles sitting at a table
Ina Garten | Michael Bezjian/WireImage

In her 2020 Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, Garten shared what she makes when she wants an elevated version of her typical oatmeal breakfast.  

“I usually have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast,” she wrote. “But once in a while, I feel like something more interesting.” 

That’s where her recipe for a Whole-Grain Breakfast Bowl comes in. “This is oatmeal but with a whole lot more texture and flavor,” Garten said. “The chewy barley is a good contrast to the creamy oatmeal, and sweet dates, fresh raspberries, and crunchy hazelnuts are so satisfying first thing in the morning!”

How to make Ina Garten’s Whole-Grain Breakfast Bowl  

Now for how to prepare Garten’s “more interesting” version of oatmeal. The recipe can be found on page 229 of Modern Comfort Food, according to the official Barefoot Contessa website. It calls for only eight ingredients and a handful of steps. 

To start, Garten puts the barley (it has to be “pearled” because, as Garten noted, it cooks faster) in a saucepan with water and kosher salt. When it starts boiling, she turns down the heat leaving it to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. 

When the 30 minutes is up, Garten tosses in old-fashioned rolled oats (she suggests Bob’s Red Mill) and water. Once again, she brings the mixture to a boil before turning the heat down and letting it simmer. This time she leaves it to simmer for 20 minutes instead of 30. 

Garten turns off the heat and stirs in whole milk when the barley’s “tender” and the oats are “creamy.” That’s the base of Garten’s Whole-Grain Breakfast bowl done.

Next, she divides the mixture into bowls, topping each one with fresh raspberries, dates, toasted hazelnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup. 

RELATED: Ina Garten’s Challah French Toast Is an Easy Barefoot Contessa Breakfast