by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman
from Jean-Georges: Cooking At Home with a Four-Star Chef
(Broadway Books, 1998)
Makes 4 servings
As usual, Jean-Georges turns a rather common combination — tomatoes and basil — into something unique and beautiful. And the basil oil is an elegant finishing touch. You can go in many directions after this light first course, but perhaps meat is best. If you’re grilling, try steak; or, if the weather’s cool, lamb chops are a good choice.—Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman
4 large tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. To make the tomato towers, bring a pot of water to a boil. Core the tomatoes, then make a small “X” on their bottom (flower) end. Drop them into the boiling water and remove when their skins begin to loosen, about 30 seconds later Drain, then immediately submerge the tomatoes into a large bowl of ice water.
2. When cool, peel them, then cut horizontally into 4 or 5 thick slices. Discard the bottom slice of each tomato, but keep the other slices in order; they’re going to be restacked. Sprinkle each of the slices with salt, pepper, and a few drops of sherry vinegar.
3. Drop 1 cup of the basil leaves into boiling water for 10 seconds, then remove and rinse in cold water immediately Place them, still wet, in a blender; with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil.
4. On individual plates, reassemble the tomatoes with the flat side down, putting a basil leaf or two between each layer. Surround with a little basil oil, then sprinkle the whole thing with salt and garnish with a little more basil.
Tomato and basil towers recipe © 1998 Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman. All rights reserved.