Everything Elizabeth Banks Cooks in a Day

published Mar 9, 2024
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graphic collage of Elizabeth banks surrounded by frozen cherries, a box of Trader Joes Vegetable Bird's Nests, a gnocchi soup, a can of her wine brand Archer Roose, and a vanilla Chobani cup
Credit: Photos: (headshot & can) Archer Roose, Shutterstock, Trader Joe's, (soup) Joe Lingeman, Chobani

Recently I was asked this age-old hypothetical: If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be and why? Elizabeth Banks is absolutely at the top of my shortlist — and she should probably (definitely!) be on yours too. 

The actor, filmmaker, long-time advocate for reproductive rights, and self-described Amateur Goofball “actually love[s] to cook.” She keeps a “Food Inspo” Instagram folder (and another one that’s just called “Shit I Like”) and can just as easily throw together a big rotisserie chicken couscous salad with Meyer lemon dressing — made with lemons freshly picked her own Meyer lemon tree, no doubt — as she can a creamy bowl of gnocchi. (Oh yeah, in this dream scenario, Elizabeth is also hosting this dinner.)

As co-owner and Chief Creative Officer of Archer Roose canned wine and a sangria stan, you can trust the drinks situation will also be chill. Elizabeth’s bar fridge is stocked with cans of chilled Malbec — “I think it tastes really crisp in your mouth when it’s a little cool” — Rosé, Bubbly, and Dr. Pepper. If mixed drinks are more your thing, she’d happily make you the Tinto de Verano saved in her inspo folder.

She’s also totally down to clown. When I called the most recent commercial for Archer Roose “silly, stupid, fun” she simply laughed and responded, “That’s me.” Elizabeth also shared a few of her favorite of-the-moment recipes, the three items you’ll always find in her freezer, and the food trend she can’t get enough of.

It’s a typical Tuesday. What’s for breakfast?

First of all, I have coffee. I used to be a tea person, and I’ve moved to the more efficient Americano Nespresso. I have the machine. I make the thing. Sometimes I put oat milk in it, but usually I’m just drinking it black. And then I need a little protein — I really tend to shy away from breads in the morning, but I will often make a really quick egg (with greens from my garden, like spinach, kale, or chard in “the literal same pan”). I also do parfaits — I literally just had one this morning and it’s still sitting here. I had Vanilla Chobani with some berries and granola. (Her favorite brand: Paleonola Grain Free Vanilla Bean Granola.)

The other thing that happens in my house, often, is my bananas are getting brown, and then I’m making a smoothie with banana and any frozen fruit or juice that’s in the fridge. Honestly I’ll just blend a banana and orange juice to get rid of the banana.

What about lunch?

My lunches are almost exclusively salads. I don’t really eat a big lunch, especially if I have breakfast. If I intermittent fast and I’m just eating lunch, then I’m making salads [with] greens from our garden, grains (typically couscous or quinoa), and avocado. For protein, I alternate between salmon and chicken. Otherwise I’m having leftovers or whatever is kind of in the fridge, or I order a salad.

Credit: Photos: (clockwise from top left) Alex Lepe, Getty Images, Christopher Testani

What are you throwing together for dinner on a night when you’re too lazy to cook?

I love a one-pot thing. I just started making this cozy gnocchi recipe that I saw on an Instagram Story and I thought it didn’t look very hard. It starts with you browning some hot Italian sausage (but you don’t have to make it with meat) and then it’s really simple; anything that you can throw in with it is good. 

I find sausage to be a really easy thing, and I like hot Italian sausage, kielbasa, chicken sausage, turkey sausage — you can’t mess it up. It’s already kind of made, you know.

What is the one dish you’re famous for in your family or amongst your friends?

I make an amazing fig dip from a recipe shared with me by a friend 15 years ago. Everyone asks, “Are you bringing the fig dip?” I’m going on a girls’ weekend this weekend and I’ll definitely be making the fig dip. It’s dried figs and olives. Kind of like a tapenade, but instead of being very olivey and savory, it’s much more sweet. You put it in a balsamic reduction. The main fresh thing is rosemary. So add fresh rosemary in there, garlic, and then put it in the fridge for four hours or overnight and serve it with chèvre or goat cheese or cream cheese. It is like to die for.

It’s 5 o’clock. Are you cooking with a drink in your hand? What drink?

I’m sort of Pavlov’s dog: If I see something that looks delicious, then I want it. When I’m making the cozy gnocchi, it’s for sure a red wine night. You know? I also will pour the red wine — sippy, sip — one for me, one for the recipe. Because along with tomato paste, you’re never going to go wrong adding a little red wine to browning meat in your skillet — especially a hot Italian sausage. Just like a little boop. One and one.

What are three food items someone will always find in your freezer? 

Frozen dark cherries because they’re my favorite for a banana smoothie; whatever store I’m at is where I buy them. Trader Joe’s [Vegetable] Bird’s Nests. Do you know about these? They’re almost always in our freezer because my kids love them, and McConnell’s Chocolate Covered Strawberries ice cream.

What is a food trend you’re really into right now?

I kind of just discovered avocado oil. I was a big EVOO person, and I’ve sort of become obsessed with cooking with avocado oil. So I feel like that got trendy really recently and I’m very into that.