Ina Garten's Favorite Side Dish Is An 'All-In-One' Masterpiece

We know Ina Garten's recommendations for a special meal and dessert – but every entrée needs a good side dish, and the celebrity chef has a go-to option here too. Whether your special occasion is in the warmer or colder months, Garten loves making orzo with roasted vegetables year-round. If it sounds on the simple side, that's because the chef tends to lean toward these types of dishes. As she told NPR about planning a dinner party, "Make a simple meal and make it absolutely delicious. Your friends won't have any fun if you've spent the entire day baking. In fact, they'll have more fun if you're relaxed and happy."

She calls her orzo dish "an all-in-one side," as it includes pasta, veggies, feta cheese, pine nuts, and a lemon vinaigrette. In the summer, she pairs it with grilled steak or chicken, but in the winter, she makes it as a side for a rack of lamb. If you're unfamiliar with orzo, it's technically a pasta but much smaller than the typical noodle, as it's more rice-like in shape and size. It's perfect for a side dish since you'll still get the taste and texture of pasta you're used to without it overwhelming the other ingredients and flavors.

Making Garten's orzo with roasted vegetables and perfect pairings

Garten's go-to side dish has a lot of flavor but only takes a few steps to make. First, you'll roast diced eggplant, yellow and red bell peppers, and red onion with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Then you'll cook your orzo in boiling water, just like you would with any other pasta, which should only take up to nine minutes. The fresh, simple dressing comes together quickly and only includes lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Finally, you'll mix everything together and add diced feta, scallions, basil, and pignolis, aka pine nuts. 

Once you've mastered the all-in-one side, take a page out of Garten's book and pair it with a protein appropriate for the season. In the summertime, you can use her recipe for grilled New York strip steaks and her go-to method for making them, which relies on precise timing to get them right. If you prefer poultry, she also has a recipe for skillet-roasted lemon chicken that uses minimal ingredients. And during the cozy winter months, Garten likes to pair the orzo dish with a rack of lamb, a recipe that sounds fancy, but Garten assures us is "incredibly easy to make."