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The Italian pantry is one where so little can offer so much – think of olio spaghetti – nothing but garlic, spaghetti and olive oil! But we do like to keep a few extras on hand for those fast, easy and truly delicious eats over the winter months. Here are our Italian Pantry must-haves:


Made from corn, we can’t get enough of polenta in winter, served soft and wet or chilled then grilled. Fast cooked or ‘Bramata’ means less stirring and a finished polenta in just minutes.


Good quality capers come from the island of Pantelleria in Sicily, where that intense heat and salty air work magic. Packed in salt, they retain a brightness that gets lost in brine and just need rinsing before they’re added to your dish.


Again good quality will make all the difference with these salty little fish. An anchovy packed in oil will bring depth to a dish, salt to a pizza and tang to a toast.


Whole or powdered porcini mushrooms are a must and can be used simply to give depth. They also act as a great vegetable stock for risotto and soups.


This goes without saying! Italian olive trees are from generally older varieties and their taste reflects that older land – less bright and grassy, more considered, woody and subtle. We enjoy some of the more unusual varieties that come through as well that aren’t grown here in New Zealand as a new taste for our palates.


Also a given but like any olive the processing is where you’ll find flavour. A high quality olive with will be processed with love and attention – a bad one not so much. A very cheap olive is generally just that. One of our favourites varieties for cooking are the Salvagno Olives, pitted and served in olive oil.


We love the texture and toothsome quality of good pasta and we look for bronze extruded every time so we get that texture and taste you simply can’t replicate. Make your own using Italian ‘00’ flour.


Whether it’s canned, jarred or fresh, the aim is richness of flavour. Curious Croppers helped us by working with Sean Connolly to create their own range of pasta sauces so we don’t have to. Add a few of these to your pantry and an ideal easy mid-week meal fix is just minutes away.


We love this spicy number on everything! Pizza through to lamb, it is a taste that can’t be replicated and a little goes a very long way.


To be a true ‘bean-eater’ and enjoy rich bean dishes, good quality beans are a must. Our Metelliana beans are well loved for a reason – they just taste better!