Friday, July 27, 2007


Pinzimonio is the Italian equivalent of the French crudites. In all my years in Italy, I can't remember seeing bread being dipped in olive oil, as you see in Italian-American restaurants. What you do see, especially in homes, is a selection of very fresh seasonal vegetables being dipped in first-rate olive oil.

Prepare sticks or small pieces of a selection of vegetables. My own preference would run to carrots, celery, yellow and red pepper, perhaps baby bella mushrooms, and fennel (shown in inset). This is a good opportunity to get to know fennel, or finocchio, which is relatively unappreciated outside of Italy. Do not be tempted to save time by buying pre-cut veggies such as stir-fry combinations or the little packages of baby carrots or celery sticks you see at the market. Freshly cut makes a difference.

Provide each person with a very small bowl of your best olive oil. Have salt and a pepper mill available. Each person will take sticks from a common platter and dip into their personal bowl. Although it would not be really authentic, there is no reason why you shouldn't have good crusty bread handy to dip in the olive oil along with the veggies. This, a good glass of dry rose', followed by ice cream or sorbet, would make a fine summer meal, even for guests.