An Italian-style crudite platter is the simplest appetizer, with just colorful raw vegetables and great olive oil.
Pinzimonio is the essence of 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 plastic tray, arranged with desiccated machine-lathed baby carrots, uncooked broccoli and cauliflower florets and a sloppy container of ranch dressing?
It’s the vegetable display you often see on the table as an afterthought, that people pick into reluctantly out of a combination of haven’t-eaten-all-day ravenousness and well, just to be polite.
This is not that. I won’t be precious and tell you can only think about serving pinzimonio with pristine farmer’s market or home-grown vegetables. But I don’t have to because conveniently, any decent grocery store should have at least a few peak produce choices on display no matter the season.
Actually, my grandmother would put a similar salad on the table after the pasta and before the pastry, even in the dead of winter.
She kept it very simple — just trimmed celery stalks alongside a shallow dish of olive oil, salt and pepper. It was 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 if you put this vegetable salad together: Grab that bottle of special extra-virgin olive oil you were planning to splurge on. This is the time to use it!
raw tuscan vegetables and olive oil - pinzimonio
Yield 1 - 10 servings
The vegetables are best when crunchy, fresh and cold.
Before serving, you can immerse vegetables in a large bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry before arranging on a platter.
- 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 pieces or matchsticks.
- Chill the vegetables for an hour or so, then arrange them on a serving plate or large platter, or put them in wide glasses 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.