Ina Garten Says You Don’t Need to Whisk Oil and Vinegar into a Vinaigrette, and I Believe Her

published May 22, 2022
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Credit: Summer Miller

When trying to host the perfect party, create the most coveted dish at the bake sale, or simply put dinner on the table with the least drama possible, it’s nice to have a few tricks in your back pocket. And no one has more party-worthy, dinner-making words of wisdom than hostess extraordinaire and everyone’s favorite Cosmo maker, Ina Garten.

Her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, addresses everything from planning cocktail party food to ways to cut down on dishes. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was published in 1999 and centers around easy-to-make recipes inspired by the specialty food store she owned by the same name. It was her first book and it’s arguably a modern classic.

True to Ina’s breezy style and casual-but-thoughtful approach to entertaining, the book is full of staple recipes like maple-oatmeal scones, roasted tomato basil soup, and fresh fruit tarts, but it’s not necessarily the recipes that make this timeless book worthy of space on your shelf: It’s the tips she peppers throughout. 

Aside from tips on how to host a good gathering (plan it like you would a meal and include fish, meat, and vegetables, and of course always finish with a dessert platter), I particularly appreciate when she provides solutions on keeping cooking simple and not using more dishes than required. 

Credit: Summer Miller

My Favorite Tip from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Tucked into her recipe for grilled salmon salad, Ina casually mentions there is no need to dirty a whisk and bowl to make a vinaigrette before pouring it over the salad. Save yourself the extra dishes and combine the salad and vinaigrette ingredients together in the serving dish and give the whole thing a toss. The flavors of the vinaigrette still marry and coat the salad ingredients, but you’ve saved yourself dishes to clean up and a little bit of time. Ingenious!

Of all the helpful suggestions in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, skipping the emulsion remains a constant. While I do still, on rare occasions, go the extra mile and break out that whisk, I agree with Ina that most of the time you really don’t need it. Save yourself the extra steps — and the extra dishes to clean!