Drew Barrymore Is "A Hot Mess in the Kitchen" but Her Go-To Pantry Dinner Is Easy as Pie

Plus details on how she’s working to get food to those in need.

Drew Barrymore sitting in a director's chair in a kitchen
Photo: Quorn

Between hosting her award-winning TV show, writing books, creating a line of kitchenware for Walmart, starring in blockbusters (Scream, anyone?) and, more recently, being appointed Chief Mom Officer of Quorn (a meat-substitute product brand featuring mycoprotein), it's safe to say many things compete for Drew Barrymore's attention. But her highest priority? Drew's two daughters—Olive, 9, and Frankie, 8. We had the chance to sit down with Barrymore herself and hear about her favorite go-to dinner that requires only a few ingredients found conveniently in your pantry, and how she finds balance in a busy life.

As seen in her book, Rebel Homemaker, (and featured on the Rachael Ray Show) Barrymore told us her harissa spaghetti recipe is an "all-time favorite."

"It can be made with all dry spices—onion powder, garlic, oregano, parsley—and then you literally use a heap of tomato paste, a can of any type of tomato you want and a tube of harissa," Barrymore says. Any pasta will do, but a staple in her pantry is chickpea pasta (Barrymore likes Banza, which provides a whopping 23 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per serving.)

According to Barrymore, the Tunisian spice paste lends a "unique smokiness" and is easily layered into this pasta dish. She recommends reserving a cup of pasta water to stir in at the end, helping it seamlessly meld together.

Looking for an extra boost of protein? She has another tip: "I would highly suggest putting meatless grounds with it and turning it into a Bolognese," Barrymore says, adding that she likes to freeze the sauce so she has something to easily thaw for dinner.

Another pantry go-to for Barrymore is soups—and making soup is actually what made her fall in love with cooking.

"There are great soups to be made from the pantry, and that's really where I started," Barrymore says. "I was so overwhelmed. I was not a good cook, and I was becoming a mom and I was super pregnant and I was like 'I have got to figure this out!'"

See More: Our Best Pantry Soup Recipes

An advocate for living with balance, Barrymore is quick to admit not every night ends with a home-cooked meal.

"Sometimes, I'm really hardcore into eating really clean and working out, and then next it's like kids and work take the front burners, and I'm on the back burner, not taking care of myself," Barrymore says. "So I understand all styles and appreciate aspiration." She went on to note that depending on the week, she and her kids might feast on salmon, broccoli and blueberries one day, and the next, they're picking out gas-station snacks or ordering at a drive-thru. But, when time does allow, she loves spending her day in the kitchen. Here at EatingWell, we believe variety is the spice of life and there is room for all foods in a healthy eating pattern.

"Chefs are my Marvel comic superheroes, and food and food magazines are my life," Barrymore says. "I don't posture to be a chef or to have it all together—I'm a hot mess in the kitchen and I don't like cooking for groups of people because it totally intimidates me, but a day of cooking is like one of the greatest luxuries I could ever have."

Now that Barrymore's two daughters are a bit older, she's looking forward to helping them become passionate about food and sustainability issues.

"In my mid- to late 20s, food became a really big focal point in my behavior, in my travels, in the philanthropy I did and in the work I'm currently doing with Quorn," she says. "I really want to bring my kids on that journey and revitalize what I was up to before I had them—which was in the field working on the need to get food to people."

In 2007, Barrymore began working as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme. She's also running a fundraiser through Instagram to raise money for World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides meals for people and communities in need around the world.

"Food is an indivisive necessity and a privilege and luxury," Barrymore says. "I'm always looking for those things that bring us together, because it is clear we are not always aligned. What does bring us together? Food—it does. And it's such a powerful thing."

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