All right, guys, this is going to start out small, and I'll grow it as I go. I wanted a place to share with you all of the kitchen-y things that I can't live without. From ingredients to gadgets to cookbooks, these are the things you will find in my kitchen that make my culinary world easier, happier, and more delicious. Some of these links are affiliate links from Amazon, so I may make a commission if you decide to buy something, which helps me keep my blog going! But I've let you know when you should shop around elsewhere for better prices.
For general cooking: Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Costco (non-affiliate link) This oil is light enough for everyday use, consistently tests well in terms of quality and purity, and is amazingly affordable.
For dressing, dipping, and drizzling: Conte Belicino Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I get this EVOO at Cost Plus Worldmarket. It's richer and more flavorful than the Kirkland Signature EVOO, and perfect for salad dressing!
Spray Olive Oil: La Tourangelle Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray I use spray EVOO mostly when I'm grilling. It's especially awesome for grilling bread!
Neutral cooking oil: Chosen Foods Avocado Oil (sometimes available at Costco for less) Avocado oil is my go-to neutral oil for Asian and South American dishes.
Everyday Balsamic vinegar: De Nigris Bronze Eagle Balsamic Vinegar of Modena I am a HUGE fan of De Nigris vinegars, and this is the one that got me hooked. This balsamic whisked with the Conte Belicino EVOO from above = salad dressing heaven!
White Balsamic vinegar: De Nigris Organic Aged White Wine Vinegar 6% Acidity My absolute favorite salad dressing vinegar! The aging gives it depth and richness, and mellows out the acidity a bit.
Apple cider vinegar: Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar by Apple State Vinegar (non-affiliate link) I live in an apple-producing state, so it stands to reason that there are some excellent apple cider vinegars available locally. This is my favorite, and your purchase supports a good cause!
Salad Dressing Tools
Whisk for vinaigrette: Scandanavian style whisk from Ludwig. I have three. I can't live without them!
Dressing keeper: OXO Good Grips Little Salad Dressing Shaker This little bottle is great for when I get lazy and decide to shake my dressing instead of whisking it, or have extra dressing to store for the next day. Mine has been around for probably a decade. I love my Mason jars too, but this one is a little less messy.
Containers for individual batches of dressing: Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Sauce Containers I use these when I'm making salad for just myself and am in a hurry. I can eyeball the proportions, shake it up, and go.
To crush garlic: Garlic Press Rocker Changed my garlic-prepping life. It gets used every day, basically!
To mince garlic: Chef'n GarlicZoom Garlic Chopper, XL This one is a pain in the a$$ to clean, I'll be honest. But it does such a good job of mincing the garlic that it's worth the effort.
To julienne vegetables: OXO Good Grips Prep Julienne Y-Peeler This is my newest kitchen gadget and I'm in love. Perfect for summer slaws!
My favorite mini blender: Ninja Express Chop Professional My go-to kitchen appliance. I use it for pesto, puree, it'll quickly chop onions and garlic for soffritto small batches of hummus, and it all goes right in the dishwasher.
Fish bone tweezers/pliers: Global - 5 inch, 13cm Fish Bone Tweezers A gift from my dad, who knew his fish! I seriously don't know what I'd do without these things!
Gloves for handling oysters: Dowellife Cut Resistant Gloves Food Grade Level 5 Protection For picking and shelling oysters. Works way better than anything else I've tried.
Fish spatula: Slotted Spatula Flexible Stainless Steel Spatula with Silicone Top This is a newer addition to my spatula collection, and it ends up in my dishwasher every night. A definite keeper!
Fish prep knife: Global 6.25" Boning Knife My favorite knife for anything soft or squishy. Works great on tomatoes too!
Za'atar: Zaatar Middle Eastern Spice Blend, The Spice Hut This one is packed with sumac, which is often missing from other brands, so it's got a wonderful savory/tart balance that I love.
Harissa: Mina Mild Harissa Sauce Even the mild version has a bit of kick! But buy the hot if you like spicy food.
San Marzano Tomatoes: Strianese San Marzano Tomatoes, DOP I tested tomatoes exhaustively when I was developing my Bolognese recipe. This was the winner! I usually find them at Cost Plus Worldmarket.
Pomegranate Molasses: Just Pomegranate Syrup Organic Pomegranate Molasses There are lots of good brands of pomegranate molasses out there, and I haven't tried them all, but this is the one I usually keep around.
Basic Kitchen Tools
Pots and pans: All-Clad Brushed Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded Cookware Set The All-Clad set that we got as a wedding gift (from my boss at the time) is still going strong! I recommend getting a small set and then buying individual pieces that you will use a lot. I have added a 12-inch Saute and an 8-inch Saucier that I consider indispensable. Shop around for the best prices.
Dutch oven: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Oval Dutch Oven with Lid An absolute classic. Shop around for this one...I'm sure you can find it cheaper than it is here. Costco has an off-brand Dutch oven that I hear good things about too.
Wooden spoons: Berard Olive-Wood Handcrafted Pointed Spoon This is literally my favorite cooking utensil in the whole wide world. It's the first spoon I grab for almost anything, and it ends up getting hand washed with love every. single. day. I could write a whole page just on this spoon. It works for everything. Berard is far and away my favorite for olive wood spoons...mine are all a decade old and still in great shape.
Salt and pepper grinders: Bisetti Imperia 9 Inch Olive Wood Pepper Mill With Adjustable Grinder I got my grinders in Italy years and years ago and can't find them online, but they look a lot like this one. I have a small one for salt, which I fill with Costco's Himalayan pink salt, and a bigger one for black pepper.
Salt well: Sur La Table Olivewood Salt Keeper. If you love to cook and you don't have a salt well, you should read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and get yourself one. This is the one I have, but they are everywhere these days. I'm sure there are cheaper ones around that are just as functional.
For foundational kitchen knowledge: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. When I call this up on Amazon, it says "purchased 4 times." I think that says it all! I love reading, studying, and gifting this book. Seriously, you will learn so much from it, and from the excellent companion series on Netflix. Also catch Samin's delightful pandemic-era podcast, Home Cooking, which is sadly no longer in production...but is still an informative and entertaining listen.
For Mediterranean diet basics: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners by Elena Paravantes, RDN. Elena is a Mediterranean diet blogger at olivetomato.com, and a registered dietician. This book is a go-to resource for me; it's full of resources from basic knowledge about the Mediterranean diet, meal plans, and recipes.
For Mediterranean recipes: Ikaria by Diane Kochilas (my culinary idol), and The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen. I literally never even put them away.
For seasonal eating: Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster This book has been in my library for two decades at least. I believe I got it as part of a mail order cookbook deal when I was in my 20s, and it's one of the handful of cookbooks that has made it through the eight jillion (actually 6) times I've moved as an adult. It's full of fresh, healthy, seasonal recipes that are delicious and easy to make.
For vegetarian recipes: The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition An absolute classic. Mollie Katzen works magic with beans and greens and grains.