The Barefoot Contessa shared her favorite store-bought items for making elaborate meals look like a cinch.

Ally Sorrells
October 29, 2019

The new season of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro premiered this past Sunday, and you better believe we set our DVR to record it. The first episode, "Store-Bought Is Fine," featured several premade grocery items that I never thought Ina Garten, queen of all-things homemade, would endorse. But I'm so glad she did because she proved that store-bought is actually fine.

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Of course we aren't talking about store-bought *everything*—this is Ina, after all. But Ina's favorite premade products help streamline recipes like Roasted Eggplant Parmesan and Raspberry Baked Alaska, so you can have holiday-worthy dishes ready in no time. As the Barefoot Contessa would say, "How easy is that?"

Related: The Barefoot Contessa Is Returning to TV, Just in Time for the Holidays

For an appetizer, Ina throws together a crave-worthy hummus from pantry staples you probably already have on hand. In addition to typical ingredients like canned chickpeas and tahini, Ina incorporates Sriracha and roasted red peppers for a hit of spice (and festive red color) that turns ordinary hummus into a holiday-worthy dip.

And for dinner, Ina uses high-quality jarred marinara sauce (such as Rao's) for her Roasted Eggplant Parmesan. This simple hack lets you skip hours of simmering sauce on the stove, so you'll have a delicious meal ready in a fraction of the time. Plus, this Christmas-worthy dish is so tasty, your guests will think you made it from scratch.

Related: Ina Garten's 4-Ingredient Vinaigrette Couldn't Be Simpler

Baked Alaska is a notoriously hard-to-make dessert, since delicate meringue is the only thing protecting an ice cream cake from a 500-degree oven, but Ina's shortcuts make this show-stopping treat *a little* more feasible. She advises buying store-bought pound cake, sorbet, ice cream and jam. Four store-bought items in one recipe? Yes, please! The trick to this one is using good store-bought sorbet and ice cream. But what classifies as good, you ask? Ina suggests brands like Ciao Bella or Haagen-Dazs.

But her store-bought hacks don't stop with dessert. Ina suggests using store-bought puff pastry to make easy holiday appetizers, buying jarred caramel and chocolate sauce (which would be so tasty drizzled over some homemade vanilla ice cream) and even jarred pesto that would work perfectly in our One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta.

With so many wonderful store-bought hacks coming from the first episode, we can't wait to see the other tips and tricks Ina has up her sleeve on this season of Cook Like a Pro.

Related: Ina Garten's Favorite Fall Lunch Is Actually Super Easy to Make

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