When things are really hectic at work, as they are now, even a hardcore food fanatic like myself doesn’t always feel like cooking. Or perhaps you’ve had a heavy lunch or midday dinner and feel like a light dinner. Or you’re looking for something to serve an easy and convivial antipasto to start a warm weather meal or a light something to serve with drinks? Well, for times like these, may I recommend the classic Tuscan pinzimonio?
Pinzimonio is, quite simply, olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper in which various crudités of your choice can be dipped. It’s healthy, it’s easy and it’s almost infinitely variable. If you have decent knife skills, you can make enough to serve four in five minutes or under.
- An assortment of vegetables of your choice (see Notes), cut into bite sized sticks or pieces
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Cut the vegetables and arrange on a serving platter. In a dipping bowl, mix the salt and pepper vigorously into the oil with a fork or whisk. Serve right away. Diners take pieces of vegetables and dip them into the oil.
The choice of vegetables is yours, but a typical pinzimonio will include carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks, celery and/or fennel, also cut up into dippable pieces, and radishes. From there, you can add any other vegetables that you enjoy eating raw: tomatoes, cut into wedges, green onions, ramps, very tender asparagus… Other common vegetables include bell peppers and cauliflower, although personally, I don’t care for these vegetables eaten raw. And although really tender raw baby artichokes are a favorite served in pinzimonio, I’ve yet to find any State-side that aren’t unpleasantly bitter when eaten raw.
To the dipping oil, you can add additional ingredients if you like to spice things up—freshly squeezed lemon juice or wine vinegar, a bit of mustard or some minced garlic, for example—but I prefer the simplicity of olive oil, salt and pepper. Of course, use the best possible quality ingredients that you can find: impeccably fresh, young Spring vegetables that the Italians call primizie dipped in fruity, cold-pressed extra-virgin Tuscan olive oil, sea salt from Trapani and freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper would give you the ne plus ultra version.
The name ‘pinzimonio’ is a combination of the word pinze, or tweezers, and matrimonio, or marriage, referring to how you pinch the vegetables between two fingers (the tweezers part) and marry it to the seasoned oil. Poetic, no? The term is sometimes used, in error, as a catch-all for any dish of crudités served with a dipping sauce.
And speaking of knife skills, a great place to learn them online is by watching the excellent instructional videos at the Rouxbe Online Cooking School.
- An assortment of vegetables of your choice, cut into bite sized sticks or pieces
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Cut the vegetables and arrange on a serving platter. In a dipping bowl, mix the salt and pepper vigorously into the oil with a fork or whisk. Serve right away. Diners take pieces of vegetables and dip them into the oil.
A typical pinzimonio will include carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks, celery and/or fennel, also cut up into dippable pieces, and radishes
Thanks, folks, for all the kind comments!
@Linda: are you thinking of bagna cauda? It's a Piemontese speciality and one of my very favorite things to eat since I'm an anchovy maven.
@Kathy: If I remember correctly, your people are Tuscan so no surprise you grew up with this! Gotta love Tuscan cuisine–so simple, so good!
what a wonderful refreshing dish….being Italian I've eaten plenty of this growing up..but never knew what it was called before.
What a lovely name for a dish ! Its so often the most simplest dishes that have the biggest effect. I just bought some excellent olive oil so going to try this this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration.
Great snack or light dinner idea! I never think to use fennel as crudite.
First time I hear this word !! I love the presentation! Thanks for the idea…..
I can understand the feeling, when things get chaotic, no energy to cook, and I love all kinds of quick yet flavorful dishes like this one. I did not know pinzimonio, nor heard of it.
This reminds me of another dish that's eaten in and around Torino called bagna crudo. all of it is wonderful.
Love it!!! And I understand what you mean by hectic work days taking your appetite….
…prepping for a trial Monday took all the energy out of me! I only wish I had something like THIS to finish the busy day with!
I love this dish – although I know they need to be eaten raw, I will blanche a vegetable or two…. or three…
First time I was invited to a dinner party, here in Modena, I was offered some raw feenel and pinzimonio. Was bit taken back but it is true that it does sound delicious. I also add a bit of balsamic vinegar to mine at times but you're so right in saying the quality of the ingredients is crutial!
I really love the name! A healthy yet effective dish.
Thanks for being so honest about cooking. Sometimes it's just fun to see what everyone else is cooking. -Tien 🙂
I love the origins of this word! =) So lovely.