The 'Grey's Anatomy' alum dishes on her Italian grandmother's famous meat sauce recipe—and her biggest kitchen disaster to date.

Fall is hands down Kate Walsh's favorite season. So naturally, she loves apple orchards and carving jack-o'-lanterns. But pumpkin spice-flavored treats? She'll pass on that one. "It's too much," she admits, but she does enjoy throwing down in the kitchen once the leaves start changing color. "The crockpot comes out and so does the slow cooker," she says. "I have this old-fashioned, ridiculously easy stew recipe that I'll make and it's good for days."

When Kate and I sat down in NYC to discuss her partnership with EQUELLE, she was on a mission to modernize the way people discuss menopause in our culture. "At 52, I'm living my best life," she declared. "There's this stigma that menopause is a really terrible time for women, and I haven't had that experience at all. I started menopause early at 39, and it's been an incredible journey. It's about just about getting information out there and making women feel like there's alternatives and options."

Read on to find out her Italian grandmother's secret for making out-of-this-world meat sauce, her go-to pasta dish, and what was behind last year's holiday kitchen catastrophe.

Credit: Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

Why self-care matters

"I feel powerful when I get a good night's sleep. The reality is that most women are working hard raising a family, doing all things. We're all multitaskers, and that sweet spot of eight hours of sleep is elusive. Meditation helps, that's essential for me. That's a big one. We hear the term 'self-care' a lot in the culture, but to really do it is another thing. What I can put out and what I can bring to others, whether it's my family, friends, or my work, is exponentially more when I take care of myself."

Growing up with an Italian mom

"Oddly, we didn't have a lot of meat growing up. I'm the youngest of five, and it's expensive to feed a whole family. So, it was a lot of pasta growing up and fish on Fridays because I grew up Catholic, and then maybe once a week, we would get steak or meat. My grandmother's meat sauce ... one of her secrets was putting a piece of a pork chop in, a piece of fish⁠—she put in a little piece of every meat to let it stew."

On her love affair with carbs

"When I was little my mom would let me have whatever I wanted for my birthday, so I'd always get fettuccine alfredo carbonara. But I love any pasta. If I'm craving a bolognese, then I'll do that or chicken cacciatore. For the most part, I try to stick with protein, good fats, and vegetables, but I'm not afraid to indulge a little. I do enjoy potato chips, I'm not going to lie to you."

Designing her perfect girls' trip

"Two weeks ago, I had one with one of my best friends Sarah. We went toward the Aeolian islands off the coast of Sicily, so that was really fun. We chartered a catamaran and we actually had the woman Laura, who was our chef and hostess, cook fresh pasta and fish and bruschetta. It was incredible. I've been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling and a lot of times with my friends, we go all over and like to go to new places. It's always a great cultural experience."

Her biggest kitchen disaster

"At Christmas last year, my brother and I cooked for 12 people, and he insisted on cooking with me because we love to cook together. But I'm like, 'This is for 12 people and you're going to be working, I'm working. Are you sure we shouldn't get help?' He's like, 'No, we're okay. We can do it. We're going to do a big roast and we're going to do our mother's popovers.' Okay, so I prepped everything and it's all good. Except for the fact that my brother puts in like three times as much fat in the popover tin, so it turns into a kitchen fire and not a small one. I'm literally doing a fireman's crawl up my building. I had to take a timeout after that and rage to my boyfriend's apartment."