Essential Cooking Tools

Make Italian cooking even easier with these timesaving, energy-saving tools.

Tomatoes

Cheese Grater

In addition to the traditional cheese graters, there are also flat, triangular graters whose shape helps direct the gratings where you want them. These are great for grating Parmesan over pasta. There is also the French Mouli grater for quick, efficient grating; this is perfect for grating pieces of cheese that are too small to hold with your hands.

Colander

We recommend purchasing a quality stainless steel colander that is large enough to hold two or more pounds of pasta. Buying two or even three colanders of different sizes is a great idea since they are so versatile. Doing so will make cooking your favorite meals a much faster process.

Dough Scraper

Use this stainless steel square with a wooden handle to form dough into a ball. It is also good for scraping wooden pasta boards clean.

Drying Pole

A two-inch wooden pole, about six-feet long; dries pasta nicely.

Food Mill

This cone-shaped container with perforated disk and two-armed propeller-like blade separates unwanted strings, skins, seeds, and even small bones from the foods going through its disks. The food mill is a necessity for pureeing tomatoes, as it keeps the seeds separate and will save you hours of work.

Mezzaluna or Lunetta

The lunetta or the mezzaluna -- a crescent-shaped, two-handled chopper – can be found in many Italian homes. It easily chops herbs and vegetables by simply moving the blade from side to side as it remains in contact with the chopping surface. It is great for chopping garlic and parsley together.

Pasta Pot

This straight-sided pot has an inner perforated draining basket and handles. Every home cook should have a five or six-quart pot (just decrease the amount of water if you are only cooking for two). Once water comes to a boil, simply place the pasta in the basket. When pasta is cooked to taste, pick the basket up its handles, shake to drain pasta, and add to sauce.

Pasta Wheel

Straight-edged pasta wheels are great for cutting tortellini and other types of pasta.

Rolling Pin

The best rolling pins are made out of hard, close-grained wood and have a smooth finish. The ideal rolling pin is approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 32 inches long.

Slotted Spoon and Spatulas

A pierced spatula is handy for flat, long food items such as scaloppini. A slotted spoon is good for handling smaller, chunkier shapes, like meatballs or stew. Use wooden spoons and forks to stir pasta as it is cooking. Having several of these practical items in different lengths and sizes makes cooking big meals easier.