Ina Garten's New Bistro Menu Will Take Your Tastebuds On a Trip to France

The French onion soup upgrade is first on our must-make list!

a photo of Ina Garten
Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Whether it's Valentine's Day, a dinner for 20, a patio party or otherwise, the number one mistake hosts make when entertaining at home, according to Ina Garten? Spending too much time cooking.

So as part of Williams-Sonoma's new Inspired by France package, the entertaining ace, cookbook author and Food Network star reveals her top four recipes that deliver major Parisian flavor with minimal fuss. A Beef Bourguignon for six that would make Julia Child proud, yet is actually easy to execute? Sign me up. (And while we're making requests, I'll take a plane ticket to make Ina's Paris vacation itinerary a reality!)

The salad, soup, main dish and dessert each call for 35 minutes of prep time or less, and three out of four of the recipes among Ina Garten's French Bistro Favorites can be made partially or entirely ahead. That way, you need not spend the entire soirée sweating over the details.

Now that the menu is settled, all that's left to do is send out the invites to your fabulous French bistro party, stock up on some affordable, food-friendly wines and follow Ina's lead. In the words of the icon herself, "how easy is that?!"

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

When cooking for Jeffrey, for a crowd or for herself, Ina enjoys taking a traditional recipe and turning up the volume. "Who doesn't love French onion soup gratinée with its topping of onion-soaked bread and gooey melted cheese?" Ina asks. Fresh fennel and a triple play of boozy elements (white wine, sherry and Cognac or brandy) give classic onion soup a deeper and more complex flavor. Don't worry: The ooey-gooey Gruyére toast is still invited to the party!

French Green Bean Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

When in Paris, Ina tells the Williams Sonoma team that she adores opting for a big salad with warm goat cheese for lunch. So this stunning yet simple starter is her recreation of that bistro favorite. The cold French string bean and leafy green salad beautifully balances out the rich goat cheese encased in flaky, buttery phyllo dough.

Beef Bourguignon

Prior to developing this recipe, Ina admits that she never really enjoyed beef Bourguignon. All too often, the three-hour cook time many versions suggest yields meat that's "stringy and dry" and by that time, the vegetables are overcooked, too, she says. To prevent both of those problems—and to make the French main dish doable for any Sunday night—Ina came up with a remix of the stew that simmers for only 90 minutes. Bonus: The Dutch-oven dinner is even better the second day, so you can get a jumpstart well in advance of when guests arrive.

French Apple Tart

Cap things off with what might just be Ina's "all-time favorite dessert." Rave-worthy due to the fact that it highlights the "simple essence of sweet apples and crisp pastry with no distractions," Ina says, this easy apple dessert recipe is designed to be completed at least an hour or two before you dig in. If you opt for the Ina-approved shortcut and use defrosted frozen puff pastry instead of making the crust, you'll only need 5 ingredients to make this dreamy dessert a reality.

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