Brown Butter Chicken & Other Recipes That Inspire Ina Garten

The Barefoot Contessa is coming out with a brand new cookbook, all about comfort food.

September 30, 2020
Photo by Quentin Bacon

The following is excerpted from MODERN COMFORT FOOD. Copyright © 2020 by Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

People ask me all the time how I get inspired. The truth is, after writing twelve cookbooks, it’s not always easy to think of new ideas, so I look for inspiration everywhere. A dish I order in a restaurant or specialty food store might intrigue me. I love to cruise grocery stores and farmers’ markets looking for new ingredients like shishito peppers, fig spread, or truffle butter. In the past few years, social media has also become one of my biggest sources of inspiration; it’s not uncommon for me to see something on Instagram that gets me running to the kitchen.

One of the people in the food world who inspires me most is my friend Eli Zabar, who owns specialty food stores and restaurants in New York City. It’s not only his creative ideas but also his constant curiosity. He’s always asking people what they do with everything—the raspberry guy at the street market in Paris and the farmer who grows heirloom tomatoes on the roof of his building. Eli’s food is exactly what I love: good home-style cooking rather than restaurant food, but made with really good ingredients and prepared in a modern way.

In fact, when Food Network once asked me to list my three all-time favorite dishes for their show The Best Thing I Ever Ate, the grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup at Eli’s restaurant E.A.T. were on my list. They inspired my recipes for Cheddar & Chutney Grilled Cheese and Creamy Tomato Bisque. It’s the simplest, most familiar lunch, but so much better than you expect.

Sometimes recipes end up in a book through a chain of events. The Broccoli & Kale Salad is a dish I first had for lunch at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, New York. I loved it so much that I came right home and made my own version. The salad was so simple and beautiful—bright green kale and broccoli with a jammy soft-cooked egg on top—that I snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram. The post got so many positive comments that I knew I had to include the recipe in this book! I hope you’ll find lots of inspiration from my Instagram, as well, so you can make dishes that your family and friends will love!

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Paula J. November 2, 2020
I made this recipe last night for Sunday dinner. It was Amazingly Delish! Was a home run with my family young and old alike. I used chicken thighs (because I had them already) and just reduced the cooking time. Lemony Orzo was also a hit.
Patricia C. November 1, 2020
Just discovered you. I am excited to have found you. Looking forward to many amazing recipes and communications with you!PeeDee from Nashville, Tennessee 🇺🇸😇
Margaret October 3, 2020
Made this! It is another excellent Ina dinner. I hate to suggest additions/changes to recipes but...I added sauteed leek and fennel to the orzo. Perfect!