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5 easy and delicious Ina Garten dishes you need to make before summer ends

Ina Garten's mocha icebox cake
Ina Garten's mocha chocolate icebox cake is perfect for summer.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
  • I've made more than 30 of Ina Garten's recipes, and some of her dishes are perfect for summer.

  • Garten's Greek orzo salad and summer garden pasta are the best light and fresh dinners.

  • And her mocha chocolate icebox cake and blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake are perfect sweet treats.

Ina Garten is one of my favorite celebrity chefs, and I've whipped up dozens of her breakfast, pasta, and dessert recipes while teaching myself how to cook over the last few years.

Garten has delicious dishes for every season, and some of my favorite "Barefoot Contessa" recipes are perfect for summer. They can be enjoyed every month of the year, but I think you'll especially love them in these last few weeks of the sunny season.

From a pasta that will blow your mind to a cake that makes grown men weep, these are Ina Garten's best summer dishes.

Ina Garten's blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake is the perfect way to start your morning.

Ina Garten's Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake
Ina Garten's blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten's blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake appears in her most recent cookbook, "Go-To Dinners," and she also shared the recipe in celebration of Mother's Day earlier this year.

Along with fresh blueberries and whole-milk ricotta, the cake features lemon zest, pure vanilla extract, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top. It only takes around 45-50 minutes to bake, and definitely makes for an impressive centerpiece.

Garten's blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake tastes as bright and cheerful as it looks.

Ina Garten's Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake
Garten's blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake was deliciously fluffy and moist.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

I made this cake for Mother's Day and it was a hit with my whole family. The cake was light as air and deliciously fluffy and moist thanks to the ricotta and sour cream. The sweet blueberries paired well with the lemon zest, adding big bursts of flavor to each bite.

"This was superb," my mom declared. "I give it a 10/10."

Whether you're hosting a summer brunch or just want something sweet to end the season with, this recipe definitely … takes the cake.

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's blueberry-ricotta breakfast cake here.

When it's cocktail o'clock, look no further than Garten's watermelon cosmopolitans.

Ina Garten with her original cosmo, Ina Garten's watermelon cosmo
Garten updated her original cosmo with a new watermelon recipe (pictured right).Ina Garten/Instagram/Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten became the queen of cosmos (and Instagram) after she filmed herself whipping up a massive drink at 9 a.m. during the pandemic.

"It's always cocktail hour in a crisis!" she wrote in the caption of the video, which has been viewed more than 3 million times.

Three years later, Garten decided to update her iconic recipe for "Go-To Dinners." It features fresh watermelon juice, vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, and sprigs of mint.

I loved Garten's watermelon cosmo even more than the original.

Ingredients for  Ina Garten's watermelon cosmo
Garten's new cocktail features fresh watermelon juice, vodka, and Cointreau.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten's watermelon cosmos are bright and fun. The fresh watermelon juice is refreshing on a hot summer day, and its sweetness is balanced perfectly by the vodka and Cointreau.

"It's everything you want in a summer cocktail," my friend Julia said. "Definitely packs the freshness thanks to the watermelon juice, not to mention the gorgeous color — it almost looked fake, it was so vibrant!"

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's watermelon cosmos here. 

Garten's Greek orzo salad is packed with delightful summer flavors.

Ina Garten's Greek Orzo Salad
Ina Garten's Greek orzo salad.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten's Greek orzo salad, which also appears in "Go-To Dinners," was inspired by Round Swamp Farm, a third-generation family farm in East Hampton.

"Their prepared food and baked goods are simply outstanding," Garten writes in her cookbook. "This recipe was inspired by one of their salads; it has all the Greek ingredients that I love."

Garten's Greek orzo salad features red bell pepper, red onion, Kalamata olives, baby arugula, chickpeas, capers, dill, and some good Greek feta.

My parents, who immigrated to the US from Greece, couldn't get enough of Garten's recipe.

Anneta's parents with Ina Garten's Greek Orzo salad
My Greek parents were huge fans of Garten's Greek orzo salad.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

My dad loves sharing his Greek recipes with Insider readers (check out his pastitsio — which is like lasagna, but better — and his avgolemono soup) and my parents have tested more than a dozen Greek products from Trader Joe's. They're tough critics and were intrigued to see what Garten's Greek orzo salad had to offer.

And Garten's Greek orzo salad had so many of the Mediterranean flavors we know and love — from the salty Feta cheese and rich Kalamata olives to the crisp red bell pepper and fresh lemon that tied everything together.

"Ina must've been Greek in one of her previous lives," my mom declared.

My parents have already whipped up Garten's Greek orzo salad a couple of times since we first tried it. It's perfect as a summer barbecue side, or for a fresh lunch or dinner when you want something healthy and light.

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's Greek orzo salad here. 

Garten's summer garden pasta takes full advantage of tomato season.

Ina Garten's Summer Pasta
Ina Garten's summer garden pasta.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten shared the recipe for this pasta in August 2020, and it was one of the few bright spots during a very weird pandemic summer.

The recipe is super simple and only features five main ingredients: angel hair pasta, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and basil leaves.

But Garten has a special trick that really amps up the flavor by soaking the tomatoes, garlic, and basil together in olive oil for four hours.

And that extra step is definitely worth it.

Garten's summer garden pasta is one of my favorite "Barefoot Contessa" recipes.

Ina Garten's Summer Pasta
Garten's recipe requires you to soak the tomatoes, garlic, and basil in olive oil for four hours.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten is able to make magic out of just a few ingredients thanks to her four-hour trick. The flavor that comes out of the tomatoes is so beautifully rich — I can still remember my reaction the very first time I tasted them.

They went perfectly with the airy and fluffy angel hair pasta, which helps balance the tomatoes' richness and keeps every bite nice and light. There's a reason why this dish earns such a high spot in my ranking of 11 different "Barefoot Contessa" pastas.

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's summer garden pasta here. 

Garten's mocha chocolate icebox cake is the best sweet treat to beat that summer heat.

Ina Garten's mocha icebox cake
Ina Garten's mocha chocolate icebox cake.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten once said that her mocha chocolate icebox cake is so good it "makes grown men weep."

The cake — which has 10 layers — features Tate's Bake Shop chocolate-chip cookies, Italian mascarpone cheese, Kahlua liqueur, and cocoa powder.

The mocha chocolate icebox cake is super easy to prepare, and it's the best dessert from Garten I've ever made.

Anneta with Ina Garten's mocha icebox cake
The cake, which has 10 layers, features Tate's Bake Shop chocolate-chip cookies.Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

Garten's cake is so ridiculously good. The layers have a really satisfying rich and buttery taste, and the cookies and mocha whipped cream go together so well. And there are chocolate chips in almost every bite, who doesn't love that?

Since there's no baking required, Garten's mocha chocolate icebox cake is also perfect for those super-hot days when you don't want to turn on your oven. Plus the recipe is easy enough to make with the family, but it still looks impressive on the dinner table thanks to all those layers.

I'd recommend this cake for just about anything — a birthday party, special dinner, or just because. Summer's almost over, why not make the most of it?

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's mocha chocolate icebox cake here.

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