Tomato and Basil Towers

Tomato Towers with Basil Recipe

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.–Mark Bittman

LC What To Serve Alongside, Take Two Note

Kindly note, Mark Bittman wrote the above words years ago, before he became an acolyte of Michael Pollan and the sustainable movement in terms of eating less meat and more vegetables. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a steak with these tomato towers. Just wanted to put Bittman’s comment in context.

Tomato-Basil Salad Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 40 M
  • Makes 4 servings


  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sherry vinegar
  • About 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Using a sharp paring knife, core the tomatoes and make a small “X” on their bottom (flower) end. Drop them into the boiling water and use a slotted spoon to remove when their skins begin to loosen after about 30 seconds. Drain the tomatoes and then immediately submerge them in the ice water. Keep the water boiling.
  • 2. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and then cut each tomato horizontally into 4 or 5 thick slices. Discard the bottom slice of each tomato, but keep the other slices in order as they’re going to be restacked. Sprinkle each of the slices with salt, pepper, and a few drops sherry vinegar.
  • 3. Drop 1 cup basil leaves into the boiling water for 10 seconds. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove them and immediately rinse them under cold running water. Place the still-wet leaves in a blender and, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady drizzle.
  • 4. Reassemble the tomatoes on individual plates, putting a basil leaf or two between each layer. Surround each tomato with a dribble of basil oil, then sprinkle the whole thing with salt and garnish with more basil.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Not only are these a job to look at, they taste delightful as well. This recipe lends itself very easily to halving, doubling, or making as many or as few as you like. I made one for myself for lunch. Tomato and basil are a marriage made in heaven and this was summer on a plate. The olive oil and vinegar brought it over the top. Quick, easy, and delicious. What more can you ask of a lunch recipe or side? This will be on my summer recipe list for years to come.


  1. What a beautiful presentation and so perfect for summer tomatoes. I have a feeling this will go on my table tomorrow night for dinner with friends. Thanks for the inspiration!

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