Love cooking Italian food? Then you'll love this guide for all the kitchen must haves that'll make life easy when you're cooking up a storm. I've created a list of things I love and truly couldn't live without.
If you love to cook in general then you'll know that sharp knives and good quality pots and pans make life so much easier. I will admit that they are a luxury and I haven't always had them. I still only have a couple of good quality pans that I use the majority of the time and only ONE really good knife that I love because it's extra sharp.
Ehh Santa, are you writing this down? So besides the things we all know are a must I have written a list of all the essential items I use and love in my kitchen especially when it comes to cooking Italian food....
Now this one don't need much explaining. If you're obsessed with Italian food then it's safe to say that you're obsessed with pasta! And I think we can both agree that there ain't anything much better in life than a big bowl of fresh homemade pasta...well maybe a glass of vino in hand too, yup now that's pure perfection!
This is the pasta machine I own and love! It's sturdy, pretty and does the job perfectly. Ok, you still have to work it manually but I don't mind a little elbow grease every now and then 🙂
Making gnocchi is not as hard as it may seem, you can check out my homemade ricotta gnocchi recipe here. Even although gnocchi come in all shapes and sizes the most iconic variation are those with the little ridges that are perfect for catching the delicious sauce they're tossed in!
To make rustic looking ridges you can use a fork or you can you use this gnocchi board which is so cheap and easy to use (the trick is to press very lightly). Little things like this make me happy, I love having the traditional equipment in my kitchen and making gnocchi is SO much fun!
P.S Don't be tempted to search for a fancy, coloured gnocchi board. The wood needs to be raw and rough so it catches the pasta or gnocchi dough making the sauce stick to it perfectly. Yup, there's a reason why they look that way!
Ok, maybe you're wondering why a slotted spoon is on this list and I am aware almost everyone has one. I mean they come in that basic set from Ikea everyone has and that's all you need!
The reason I love and use a slotted spoon ALL the time is because it's essential when making pasta dishes. If you make homemade ravioli it's a must, I mean you don't want to dump that delicate freshly made filled pasta into a colander where it'll get damage and burst all over the place.
Even if I am making regular dried pasta I always remove it from the pasta water to the sauce that way a little excess water is transferred to the sauce and gives so much flavour PLUS I have all the remaining pasta water left over if I need to emulsify the sauce. have you ever ended up with not enough sauce for your pasta? Add a little pasta water to emulsify it and you're golden.
Remember, it's not pasta with sauce. The sauce should just lightly coat the pasta!
Nathan used to laugh at me because I use my spatulas for everything until he admitted that they are pretty good. The heatproof silicone ones are my favourite. I use them for stirring sauces and getting every last drop of sauce or pesto out of blenders, bowl and food processors. They're so inexpensive yet essential in my kitchen.
I love my rolling pins, especially those from Anthropologie they are just so pretty! Most importantly I use them for rolling out my Instant Pizza Dough, pastry dough for making crostata, sweet and savoury filed pies and so much more.
They literally come in handy when you least expect it take crushing cookies to make a cheesecake for example or crushing ice for cocktails (<< must must must)...I never realised how much I needed a rolling pin in my life until now. Sad fact.
I use a grater for mincing garlic and grating cheese, lemon zest or any other citrus fruits. We all know how important that grating of Parmigiano Reggiano on top of your pasta is and for that my friends you need a grater.
I'm all for being creative and hanging homemade tagliatelle from kitchen cupboard doors, coat hangers and all the rest of it but when I got my pasta stand for Christmas last year I loved it and ALWAYS use it.
It's made for handling pasta and the poles are very thin so it doesn't get caught on the side of a cupboard door, yeah that happened!
If you find making homemade ravioli quite fiddly then this is for you! I've made ravioli a ton and I still use my ravioli press from time to time especially when I'm doing a photo shoot and I want them to look more uniform. If you're making ravioli for a dinner party then this is a great tool!
This is also an essential tool for the ravioli lover! They come in all shapes in sizes from large circles to square and cute little heart shapes. I mean heart shaped ravioli for a Valentine's Day meal can it get much better?
Using a ravioli stamp is also much easier than going freehand because you can press it lightly on the pasta (without cutting right through) so you can judge where the filling should go and how much room you have to seal it before you cut them right through,
I use a pasta cutter for making pappardelle, lasagne sheets, ravioli and well, any shape I feel like making. It's a great little tool to have and every Italian food lover should have one!
Need I say more? Pizza is literally my life whether I'm making my quick last minute pizzas using my Instant Pizza Dough or having a full on pizza night using my Best Basic Pizza Dough. It sounds silly but it's just so much easier than using a regular knife aaaand that's why it was invented!
Mortar & Pestle
I love having a mortar and pestle in my kitchen especially for making pesto. Did you know that some Itlaians in the North of Italy will go as far to say that pesto ain't pesto unless it's made in one of these!? That means if you love pesto you need one.
Also beware, I got caught out by buying a fancy, beautiful looking mortar and pestle but it just didn't work it was pretty much there just to look pretty in my kitchen. The mortar (bowl) was really smooth so grinding anything took forever and literally didn't work. You need one that's rough textured to get the best results.
One of my favourite investments I've ever made is the immersion blender because cleaning the food processor is a pain in the ass, I know you agree! I use mine for pureeing soups, beans for dips or soups, ravioli fillings, sauces and so much more. I couldn't live without it!
A Mezzaluna (aka half moon) is brilliant for chopping fresh herbs or vegetables. If you find it hard to cut your herbs extra fine then this will be a life saver and it don't cost much plus it's really fun to use!
The coffee pot or Moka in Italian is essential as far as I'm concerned. Yup, I won't lie I love my big hot steaming cups of tea but sometimes you just need a strong, straight to the point espresso to keep you going. P.S making a Tiramisu? You need a proper espresso!
Why not enjoy your espresso with a slice of my Italian Breakfast Cake, it's utterly delicious and perfect any time of the day alongside a cup of coffee!
And that's it, for now, I'll keep adding to this list with things I find really useful and essential when it comes to cooking Italian food. Let me know what you're favourites are in the comments below!
I am so happy to have found your site. Who knew 00 flour made such a difference? I have tried MANY different methds of making ravioli, and they were all subpar, but your instructions have resulted in perfect ravioli (no breaking) every time!!! Thank you for all of the great pictures that walk us through the steps!! You need your own cooking show!