Whether you are new to Italian cooking or want to up your game, then you have come to the right place. Below, you will find a list of the 11 most important items and ingredients you will need when cooking Italian food.
1. A Pasta Maker
If you want to experience true and traditional Italian cooking then you are going to need to start making your own pasta.
Some recipes will ask for dried pasta, while others will ask for fresh. While dried pasta is pretty easy to buy anywhere, that is not the case with fresh pasta. You can save yourself time and money by making it yourself.
Making pasta is a fun experience and you can really experiment with many different shapes, styles, and ingredients until you find one that your family loves the most.
If you own an electric mixer, you may be able to get a pasta making attachment for it. Or just buy a dedicated pasta maker in the classic Italian style!
2. Olive Oil
This is perhaps the most important ingredient in Italian cooking. Olive oil is used in nearly every dish and is used for preserving many different types of Italian food as well.
There are many different types of olive oil – including Virgin, Refined and Extra Virgin. The more you use the different types of olive oil you will understand what flavors suit each recipe.
You should also look into making your own garlic and basil infused olive oils.
3. Large Dutch Oven Casserole Pot
If you are a fan of cooking then you probably already own one of these classic pots – but if you don’t, it’s time to pick one up.
An enameled cast-iron casserole pot will change how you cook. They have thick walls that are insulated and make stewing, broiling, and roasting incredibly easy. If you want to keep the moisture in a dish while you are cooking it, then you will need a Dutch oven.
If you buy a well-made Dutch oven you will never have to worry about replacing it, nor will your children, or your grandchildren. They will outlast us all.
Technically this is a tool that is used in Asian cooking, but a Spider is going to be your best friend if you are regularly cooking pasta.
Spiders look like a sieve on a long wooden stick, and that is how they work. You can put large amounts of pasta out quickly. Without worrying about getting burned when using a Spider.
They are also super easy to clean, you can even chuck them straight into the dishwasher if you are really short on time.
We promise you, you won’t regret buying yourself one of these.
5. Wooden Chopping Board and Sharp Knives
This item is as much about serving your Italian food correctly as it is about cooking it well. One of the best things about Italian meals is that they are designed to be shared events.
This means that pasta is served in huge bowls from the center of the table, vegetables are passed around in smaller bowls and bread is served on large wooden chopping boards.
You will want to make sure that you have a sharp knife to hand so that you can dish up the food fairy. Uneven slices are sure to lead to an argument when the food tastes that good.
6. Deep Baking Dish
If you don’t have a deep baking dish then how are you going to make a lasagna? We could end this section here, but there are so many other things you can do with a deep baking dish so don’t worry.
We could recommend ceramic deep baking dishes, as they will hold the heat and the flavor in better.
You can use deep baking dishes for baking fish, roasting meat, cooking cannoli, and much, much more. They are one of the most versatile baking tools, they can even be used to replace baking trays when roasting spinach and kale.
If you have ever wondered how restaurants get their herbs so finely chopped – here’s their secret: a Mezzaluna.
A Mezzaluna can be used for cutting fresh herbs, some vegetables, and of course pizza. If you are looking to cook Italian food regularly then one of these is going to save you a lot of time.
This type of knife is also used in French, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cooking. These types of blades should be sharpened every three months.
Mezzaluna means “half moon” in Italian – named after the shape of the blade.
8. Italian Herbs Mix
Speaking of herbs – we recommend keeping a jar of mixed Italian herbs and seasoning handy if you are going to regularly make Italian food.
An Italian herb mix is usually made from oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, chili flakes, lemon zest, and garlic powder.
You can buy mixes like this premixed, or you can blend them yourself. You could even use your own fresh herbs by drying them out and making the mix with them.
When making some recipes, you might want to use fresh herbs, but other recipes call for dried herbs as the flavor can be more balanced.
9. Saute Pan and Tongs
Saute pans are essential for boiling food and for searing meats.
Saute pans are not to be confused with skillets. Saute pans have wider bases and higher walls. They do a much better job at keeping moisture in a dish while you are cooking it. This is particularly useful when you are cooking fish or chicken – both of which are Italian staples.
Tongs are useful for nearly every type of cooking that you will need to do, but they are particularly helpful when working with pasta and spaghetti. You can toss pasta or pull it out of boiling water without fear of getting burnt.
Parmesan is the king of Italian cheese and is one of the most important ingredients in the world of Italian cuisine. You have to have at least one block of it in your kitchen at all times. You can even buy Parmesan by the wheel, if you feel inclined to.
As well as having a fresh block of Parmesan, you are going to want to make sure that you have the right kind of cheese graters in your kitchen. You will need one that allows you to finely grate Parmesan cheese and one that allows you to create wafer thin slices of it.
11. Tinned, Fresh, and Sun Dried Tomatoes
If you want to cook Italian food regularly then you will need to stock up on tomatoes in all forms.
The majority of Italian recipes we use have at least one type of tomato product in them, if not two. So, it pays to be well stocked with all the different types of tomatoes.
We would even recommend trying to grow your own tomatoes if you like cooking Italian food. There is nothing like cooking with food you have picked from your garden (or window sill) that day. You can’t beat the amazing flavors of fresh, homegrown food.