Pinzimonio might be the epitome of simple Tuscan-style eating. It’s just fresh vegetables, served raw, with nothing else but olive oil, salt and pepper.
Are you thinking about those raw “veggie” arrangements that show up at book readings, potlucks and professional meet and greets? Because I was.
You know, the kind served on a flimsy black plastic tray, arranged with desiccated machine-lathed baby carrots, uncooked broccoli and cauliflower florets and a sloppy container of ranch dressing.
The kind that people pick into reluctantly, out of a combination of haven’t-eaten-all-day ravenousness and social nicety; afterward trying not to think about how totally indigestible some raw brassicas are.
This is not that. I won’t be precious and tell you can only think about serving pinzimonio with pristine farmer’s market (or better yet, your own home-grown) vegetables. But I don’t have to, because conveniently, it’s summer; every decent grocery store should have at least a few peak produce choices on display.
Actually, there’s something similar my grandmother would put on the table after the pasta and before the pastry, even in the dead of winter. Trimmed stalks of celery alongside a shallow dish of olive oil, salt and pepper; a pretty humble snack, but I can still remember how I loved to dip the crunchy, cold celery into the saucer of oil, then into the salt and pepper, thinking how unlike a potato chip it was.
There is one thing I insist on, though - grab that bottle of special extra-virgin olive oil you were planning to splurge on. This is the time.
The vegetables are best when crunchy, fresh and cold. If you're serving at a party where the ice will melt and need attention, instead immerse vegetables in a large bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry before arranging on a platter and serving.
- Assorted super-fresh vegetables, such as: carrots, red, yellow or orange bell peppers, baby zucchini, cucumber, snap peas, green beans, fennel or radishes
- Best quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky, crunchy salt - I like Maldon or Diamond kosher
- Black peppercorns in a pepper mill
- Wash, peel and trim vegetables as needed to make bite-sized sections.
- Arrange the vegetables over a bed of ice on a large platter, or in small bowls with a splash of ice water.
- Set out small plates and allow each person to mix salt and fresh ground pepper in one, and some olive oil in another.
- Dip the vegetables in oil, then in the salt mixture. Eat.