The Easy Hors D'oeuvres Ina Garten Serves At Her Own Parties

Millions of people look to Ina Garten when they want entertainment tips, advice, and, of course, recipes. Her cookbooks and television shows are filled with examples of how she entertains friends and neighbors with apparent ease, leaving fans hanging on her every word. But as glamorous as her life and pals are (she counts Taylor Swift and Jennifer Garner among her buddies), The Barefoot Contessa's recipes are often incredibly approachable. 

Garten has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she can cook, but when she throws a party, she sometimes leaves the actual cooking on the back burner, at least when it comes to her preferred hors d'oeuvres.

In a YouTube short video, Garten mentioned that when she has friends over for drinks, she'll serve a simple, 100% no-cook spread to go with the cocktails. She places bowls of potato chips, cashews, and cherry tomatoes out for guests to help themselves, resulting in a casual vibe that is just as breezy as the host herself.

 This practice is very reminiscent of the Italian aperitivo, which typically happens in the late afternoon. After a long day, Italians (and tourists in the know) will flock to a bar or café for a drink, and it will often automatically come with tiny bowls of nibbles like chips, olives, and nuts. It's very simple yet a little glamorous at the same time, which is precisely what Garten accomplishes at her own Hamptons abode.

Store-bought is fine, but presentation always matters

So, how does Ina Garten translate such a spread without looking like she's serving bowls of junk food at a kid's birthday party? It's all about the presentation and good quality ingredients, of course. The potato chips she serves look thick, golden brown, and crunchy; in the YouTube short, she mentions that they are locally-made, but really any kind of kettle chip would be fine. 

Garten also sprinkles plain, whole cashew nuts with high-quality sea salt, and she uses different eye-popping colors of heirloom cherry tomatoes. More than anything, though, she places these items in gorgeous, shiny silver bowls to make everything look attractive and appetizing.

Such hors d'oeuvres don't even require separate appetizer plates and can be eaten with one hand (really, just a couple fingers), leaving guest's hands free to grip their cocktails while easing into the party mood. Of course, shiny silver bowls are not required, and any bowls will do as long as they're clean, pretty, and comfortably hold whatever it is you put out in your spread.

Personalize simple hors d'oeuvres

You can certainly follow Ina Garten's lead and serve chips, cashews, and tomatoes for an appetizing cocktail hour, but there are so many ways to serve no-cook hors d'oeuvres in your own, personal way. For example, if you have a vegetable garden, select some veggies that are vine-ripened and don't require any cooking, such as cucumbers, radishes, and mini bell peppers. 

If you like to make your own sourdough bread, place some slices in a basket and serve with some softened butter sprinkled with herbs de Provence. If you don't grow or bake anything at all, you still can create an Ina-worthy spread with bowls of olives, popcorn, pretzels, pickled vegetables (cornichons and cocktail onions are good choices), mini mozzarella balls drizzled with fruity olive oil and truffle salt, crunchy breadsticks, salami slices, canned baby corns, and cubes of cheese.

Going simple with your hors d'oeuvres will give you more time to plan and execute anything else you have planned for the evening, whether that's dinner or a simple game or movie night. Plus, you'll have more freedom to mix up your cocktails and join in on the party, which is what your gathering is all about anyway.