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At Home in the LAist Kitchen: Pinzimonio

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Pinzi-what-io? That's what we said last year around this time when we were flipping though the pages of our beloved Martha Stewart Living magazine and landed on a big, glossy, autumn-hued spread about an Italian-style Thanksgiving feat. The appetizer jumped out at us because it was colorful, fresh, different, and not fried or stuffed with greasy meat as many appetizers tend to be. Pinzimonio is actually the name for the olive-oil dip that goes with the vegetables in this dish; the trouble with recipes like this one is that for every one you copy down or print out there are a thousand variants--a pinch of this, a dash of that, a drop of what-have-you. Maybe that's not so much trouble as one sure fire way you can personalize the recipe to your occasion. We first tried the appetizer out at last year's small family Thanksgiving, and it made such a beautiful presentation and pleasant palate-warmer that we took the idea North with us and across the border for our bigger family Christmas gathering, and it went over like gangbusters with young and old alike. We've somehow managed to lose that shiny strip of magazine that we cut out and carried with us, so we'll give you the rough sketch of what goes in a Pinzimonio appetizer...but remember, you can feel free to put your own signature on it.

Pinzimonio Platter

Start by assembling a platter full of fresh, raw vegetables cut into manageable pieces. This can include:

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Yellow, Red, or Orange Peppers

Next, pour some high-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a bowl (or bowls, if you're assigning individual bowls to guests). Basic olive oil is all you need, but some suggest adding lemon juice, or garlic, or crushed pepper flakes. You're in charge here. We stuck with neutral oil, because our second "dip" had tons of flavor. We filled a second bowl with a mixture of ground sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, thyme, oregano, and rosemary (we used dried on one occasion, but far preferred fresh on our second go-round). You dip the raw veggie of choice in the oil, then lightly dredge it in the salt and spice mixture.
It's light, refreshing, an elegant alternative to most baked or fried appetizers, and best of all, it looks gorgeous. So manga, manga! And have a Happy Thanksgiving.