Equipment for the Italian kitchen

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You don’t need much equipment for everyday Italian cooking but a few items will make all the difference.

A pasta pot or ‘pentola
You need a large high-sided saucepan or pentola that can hold between two to three litres of water in which to cook pasta, preferably with a pasta insert that allows you to drain the pasta easily and safely. The pasta needs to have room to expand in the water – if it is too cramped, some of the pasta will not cook properly. If you use the right size cooking pan, your pasta won’t stick (you should never add oil to pasta cooking water). If you need to buy a pasta insert make sure it fits into your large saucepan or pentola. You don’t necessarily need to buy a special pan for cooking pasta – we’ve used a large heavy-based saucepan for years and it works fine.

A pasta spoon or server

pasta spoon, which looks a little like a claw, makes it easy to drain pasta or gnocchi. You’ll find one at good cookshops and the kitchen section of good department stores and it costs just a few euro. It’s safer to lift the pasta out of the water than to lift a heavy pan of boiling water to a colander in the sink, especially at a busy dinner time. You can also use it to remove vegetables from boiling water.

A small sharp knife and vegetable peeler
You can do most jobs with just a small knife: peel and chop vegetables, crush and slice garlic, crush peppercorns, shred fresh herbs. A small vegetable peeler is invaluable for peeling not just vegetables, but shaving Parmesan and paring fruit. We use a set we bought from the French knife producer Opinel – the serrated knife is a godsend in the kitchen and it sits comfortably in your hand.  You can see what they look like at the Opinel website – you get the best price when you buy them in a set. We haven’t seen them on sale in Ireland so buying online is probably the only way to purchase them –  they are inexpensive and last a lifetime if you look after them and don’t put the wooden handles in the dishwasher (which I’m afraid we always do!).


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