Barefoot Contessa's New Cookbook, "How Easy is That?"

I received the latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook, How Easy is That, for Christmas.  As usual, it is beautifully photographed and full of flavorful but simple recipes that rely on good quality, fresh ingredients.  I don’t think there was a single recipe in the book I wouldn’t want to make (or eat).

I’ve already cooked a couple of the dishes — the Lemon Chicken Breasts and the Weeknight Bolognese (recipes are below).

The lemon chicken was so simple yet so packed with garlicky, lemon goodness!  I used bone-in, skin-on breasts because I have never seen boneless, skin-on breasts and did not want to do any butchering.  The chicken cooks at 400 degrees which is a great temperature for roasting some veggies as a side.  I served with some Brussels sprouts and crusty bread.  The sauce is definitely dip worthy.

I also used some of our endless ground beef from the half-steer to make the Weeknight Bolognese.  The only changes I made to the recipe were to use a can of whole tomatoes and penne because that’s what I had in the pantry.  The sauce was so delicious and tasted like it had been simmer for hours.  We had a nice simple antipasto with the bolognese for a quick Italian feast.

I really love the Barefoot Contessa and would love to be a guest of Ina’s at her beautiful Hamptons home.  She always makes her guests feel so welcome, sets a stunning table, and makes comforting dishes that rely on seasonal ingredients.  Alas, until Ina discovers the Weeknight Gourmet, trying more of Ina’s delicious recipes from this gorgeous cookbook and, hopefully, being as gracious and relaxed a hostess as she will have to suffice.

Lemon Chicken Breasts
Copyright, 2010 Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.

Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Weeknight Bolognese
Copyright, 2010 Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

  • 2 TB good olive oil, plus extra to cook pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ¼ cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • Kosher salt & black pepper
  • ¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells (
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Heat 2 TB of olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat until the meat is no longer pink and has started to brown. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 TB salt, and 1 ½ tsp pepper, stirring until combined.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Finish the sauce while the pasta cooks. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.

Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Serves 4-5.

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