There are so many wonderful cookbooks out there, but so few are dedicated to the busy lives we all lead. While I love to spend a day in the kitchen, I don’t often have that luxury. That’s why I’m addicted to Ina Garten’s new book,Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? Ina offers simple recipes that feel sophisticated and satisfying.

Instead of a shortcut approach, she makes basics feel fancy. And who doesn’t want more for less these days? (I actually got a chance to meet Ina in Los Angeles last week on her book tour, and she was lovely.)

The recipes cover every occasion, from cocktails and starters to lunch, dinner, vegetables, and desserts. (And I adore the tip section in the back of the book, with tons of entertaining and kitchen ideas.)

Ina serves this stuffed mushroom recipe for Thanksgiving but it’s perfect for any holiday or cocktail party and only takes 15 minutes to put together.


  • 16 extra-large white mushrooms, caps and stems separated
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium-dry sherry
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ¾ cup minced, white and green parts (6 scallions)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • 5 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Trim the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.
  4. Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty. Serves 6 to 8

Reprinted from HOW EASY IS THAT? by Ina Garten. Copyright © 2010. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Photograph copyright © 2010 by Quentin Bacon