The Mediterranean Kitchen
The Mediterranean diet is regarded as one of the healthiest ways to eat. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and seafood, while meat and poultry are used more sparingly. Whether you’re already an avid fan of this kind of cooking or simply want to dip your toe in Mediterranean waters, there are some key pieces of equipment worth investing in. A high-quality paella pan will help you recreate Spain’s national dish at home, our favorite mortar and pestle makes grinding fresh spices and herbs a breeze, and a well-designed fish spatula allows you to handle fillets with care. In this week’s guide, you’ll find all the best tools for Mediterranean-style cooking, as well as essential ingredients to keep in your pantry.
If you’re in need of some Mediterranean dishes to add to your repertoire, look no further than our new release, The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook. This comprehensive guide features 500 foolproof recipes, ranging from familiar favorites like pasta and paella to new discoveries like b’stilla (Moroccan chicken pie) and koshari (a popular Egyptian dish featuring lentils, rice, pasta, and chickpeas). With this book, it’s easy to bring the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean into your very own kitchen.
Heavy and thick, with easy-grip vertical handles, this sturdy, handsome carbon-steel pan made it easy to produce evenly cooked paella and perfectly browned socarrat. The pan required initial seasoning and maintenance, but the resulting patina was practically nonstick, ensuring that the socarrat released effortlessly and that cleanup was simple—with few crusty bits stuck to the pan, a brief scrub was usually all that was necessary before reheating and oiling.
BUY FOR $70
The extra-tall sides of this heavy, stable granite mortar kept food from escaping and its rough interior quickly reduced hard peppercorns to dust. The large, heavy pestle was comfortable to hold and made grinding a breeze.
BUY FOR $58
With all-over tiny perforations that don’t allow small foods to escape, our longtime favorite colander has a draining performance that remains unmatched. Its 1 1/8 inches of ground clearance was enough to keep nearly all the drained pasta from getting hit with backwash. The model cleans up nicely in the dishwasher, and its handles are slim but still substantial enough to grip easily.
BUY FOR $26
This roomy clay stone remains our top choice. It reliably browns and crisps dough evenly and at a moderate pace, and small feet slightly elevate the 10-pound rectangle for easy handling.
This pair of scissors had everything we wanted: comfortable handles, sharp and sturdy blades, and a durable design that stood up to the thickest shells. The gently arched blades were very slightly serrated, which helped with crunching into shells, yet they were still slim enough to reach up narrow lobster legs without damaging tender meat.
BUY FOR $7
Quick and easy, these parchment bags eliminate the fussiness of folding and crimping sheets of parchment paper and look better on the plate than a packet of foil does. Simply fill and fold—it’s as easy as stuffing a lunch sack.
BUY FOR $7
Sturdy yet nimble, this arced blade sports a comfortable handle and is ideal for moving anything from fish fillets to vegetables and cookies.
BUY FOR $50
This inexpensive, lightweight food mill proved the top choice of every cook who tried it. Despite a relatively small capacity, good spring force enabled it to puree foods quickly and efficiently while allowing just a few tomato and berry seeds to pass through. Its handles were comfortable, and it was easy to lift and crank (a narrow crossbar made it a tad tricky to take apart). Best of all, long, notched legs allowed the mill to feel comparatively stable while sitting high and secure above the food.
BUY FOR $25
Exceptionally fine grind of all spices, leaving very little in lab screen. Even material left in lab screen was fine enough to use.
Our redesigned favorite is better than ever. Its patented pump mechanism was the easiest to use among the models we tested, and its performance remained superb, holding plenty of greens and getting them drier than rival models. The new, wider base provides more stability, the smaller pump increases the spinner’s capacity, and the flat lid (which comes apart for cleaning) makes the spinner easier to store.
BUY FOR $30
"Like a hot peeler through butter." This peeler is razor-sharp and didn't stumble in any of the tests. Its performance more than makes up for one minor flaw—a smallish handle.
BUY FOR $14
Don’t be fooled by its featherweight design and cheap price tag. This Y-shaped peeler easily tackled every task, thanks to a razor-sharp blade and a ridged guide, which ensured a smooth ride with minimal surface drag.
BUY FOR $5
“Fruity,” “fragrant,” and “fresh” with a “complex finish,” this top-ranked oil is a supermarket standout. In fact, its flavor rivaled that of our favorite high-end extra-virgin oil. Not surprisingly, its lab scores for freshness and quality were also better than the other brands across the board.
“Tastes like the real stuff,” said one taster. In both tastings, our new favorite had “distinct,” “intense sesame flavor” that was neither bitter nor harsh. Its “smooth” and fluid consistency made for exceptionally “creamy,” “buttery” hummus.
“Authentic,” and “not overbearing,” the flavor of these red peppers were the “perfect balance of smoky and sweet,” which made it our favorite tasted plain and in soup. Tasters liked its “firm and crisp” texture.
$1.99 for 12BUY NOW
This Italian import boasted “clean wheat flavor” and a “firm, ropy quality”; in fact, the lab confirmed these strands as the strongest of all the samples, with the lowest percentage of “cook loss.” The texture was just as good when we added sauce—“firm,” with “good chew.”
These wide, thick noodles cooked up “plump” and “springy,” with a “mild,” “clean” flavor. When tossed with sauce, this imported Italian pasta retained the “perfect amount of chew” and was “substantial without feeling bulky.”
Tasters lauded this 100 percent whole-wheat spaghetti for its "earthy," "wheaty," "nutty," "full" flavor, which was "heartier than white pasta, without being too wheaty." It also boasted a "pleasantly chewy,' "firm" texture. Its "good blend of whole-wheat flavor and regular-pasta texture" complemented the pesto and didn't overwhelm the marinara.
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