- Ina Garten has published many pasta recipes, and so far I’ve made eight from her repertoire.
- Her mac and cheese is creamy and comforting, and her lemon pasta is ready in 10 minutes.
- But it was Garten’s easy and rich weeknight bolognese that took my top spot.
I started cooking Garten’s recipes after I spent a day following her quarantine routine back in May 2020. I found that Garten’s dishes were easy and achievable for a new cook like me. At the height of the pandemic, it was often her pasta recipes that I turned to for dinners that were simple but comforting.
I’ve now made quite a few of Garten’s pasta dishes. Some are vegetarian and take almost no prep, while others are loaded with meat or cheese and are a little more complex.
Here’s how they all stack up.
The Food Network star promised that her broccoli and bow ties pasta was “crazy easy,” and could be easily adapted with whatever was in your pantry.
The simple recipe includes garlic, lemon, butter, and Parmesan cheese, along with the pasta and broccoli (or, in my case, broccolini).
While I loved how bright and healthy this dish tasted, I would soon discover other “Barefoot Contessa” pastas that were far more memorable.
The recipe consists of just pasta, unsalted butter, and the juice and zest of two lemons.
Better yet? You’ll have dinner on the table in 10 minutes or less.
“The pasta had me mad at myself for every time I’ve bought a $US20 ($AU28) pasta limon from a restaurant when it’s so simple to make,” my friend Tyler said. “But if we were just having the pasta on its own I would have been a little disappointed because it wasn’t anything too special.”
I would definitely serve Garten’s lemon pasta alongside her incredible “Outrageous” garlic bread, which goes well with just about everything — and would give this meal some more flavor and heft.
As with all the recipes in her most recent cookbook, Garten wanted to take a traditional dish — in this case, spaghetti carbonara — and give it a modern twist.
Garten’s carbonara comes packed with green veggies, including asparagus, scallions, and two types of peas.
The pancetta also adds a nice crunch and savoriness to the pasta — I only wish there had been more of it!
I served the dish to my parents, who both loved it as well. My dad called it “light and lemony,” while my mom thought it’d be ideal for a barbecue.
It’s also one of Garten’s more complex pasta dishes. The recipe is packed with a long list of ingredients — including two types of cheeses, red wine, and plenty of veggies — and takes almost two hours to make.
I made this dish for a group of friends who definitely thought the pasta was worth the wait.
“The dish reminded me of a cross between bolognese and a baked ziti!” my friend Sara said. “Definitely a labor of love but, to someone not cooking, highly worth it!”
My sous chef Zach also loved the taste, although he didn’t agree that it was worth the extra effort in the kitchen.
“As Prue would say on ‘The Great British Bake-off,’ it was worth the calories — but I wouldn’t say it was worth the time,” he said. “While it was definitely fun cooking it, I think you could genuinely make a dish that was 90% as good with just focusing on the ragù and broiling the pasta, versus fully baking it.”
Next time I make this dish, I’ll be taking Garten’s tip to make the ragù a day in advance — which you can refrigerate before baking and serving.
The simple but comforting dish features both Gruyère and sharp white cheddar cheeses, along with heavy cream, breadcrumbs, and cavatappi or elbow macaroni.
The dish also stole the show at my recent Friendsgiving (as did Garten’s incredible corn bread). The breadcrumbs gave each bite a nice crunch, and the sauce was creamy and decadent without overpowering the pasta.
And since you can make it a day or two ahead, Garten’s overnight mac and cheese is perfect for a dinner party where you’ll be juggling quite a few things — or a quick but easy dish to delight everyone at a potluck.
While the “Barefoot Contessa” star’s dish only has five main ingredients — angel hair, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and basil — it has one very important step. You need to soak the tomatoes, garlic, and basil in olive oil for four hours.
You also can’t beat how pantry-friendly this dish is. I almost always have tomatoes and basil in my kitchen, making Garten’s summer garden pasta an incredibly easy dinner staple. This is one “Barefoot Contessa” dish I know I’ll be returning to time and time again.
Garten’s pasta includes Pecorino Romano, Italian fontina, Italian Gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella, and ricotta cheese, along with penne pasta, crushed tomatoes, basil, and heavy cream.
I initially expected that five different cheeses — along with all that butter and cream — would be way too heavy. But Garten’s penne strikes the perfect balance of being rich and soothing without being overwhelming.
I can’t wait to make this dish the next time I need a really comforting meal again.
Plus, the rich and flavorful dish — which includes ground sirloin, orecchiette, and dry red wine — will only have you in the kitchen for 30 minutes.
It’s a modern twist on a classic, and Garten’s little tweaks all work perfectly together. The orecchiette shells catch some of the sauce in every bite, and the freshly-grated Parmesan cheese melts beautifully into Garten’s warm sauce.
There’s so much flavor in Garten’s recipe, but it’s also far less heavy than some of her other pastas on this list. I’d happily make the weeknight bolognese on any night of any season. And that’s why it’s my number one “Barefoot Contessa” pasta dish.
Stay tuned for more “Barefoot Contessa” pasta dishes to come.