heirloom tomato + avocado + zucchini stacks with a tomato almond pesto


Let's be serious for a second. I'm not fooling anyone with this vegetable stack. 

You and I both know that stacking vegetables makes them look wayyy better than if I were to just carelessly throw them into a salad.  It's impressive, it's fun, it's thought out, it makes you feel super creative. We should all be stacking more vegetables. 

It's like when I get my hair blown out, I just feel a little more fancy and little more special. Same hair, same person, just a little something extra. Same tomatoes, same ingredients, but they just look and feel a little more special. 

When I was at the market the other day, I saw dozens of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I wanted to take a bunch home and love them and make them feel special. I didn't want to mutilate them, I wanted to show off their quirky crevices and imperfect shape. I wanted to bring out their juicy texture and taste. I wanted to throw a party and have them be the main event. 

Well, I ended up making this salad and ate it all by myself for lunch. Tomato party for one .... why not, right? But as I was eating it, I daydreamed about how impressive it would be to walk out with these gorgeous stacks of tomatoes as an appetizer at our next bqq. I am going to do that, I think you should too. 


heirloom tomato + avocado + zucchini stacks with a tomato almond pesto

You can add in or swtich up the vegetables here with any fresh vegetables that you find. This would be really great with grilled vegetables as well. One thing we did not discuss is how delicious and impressive this tomato almond pesto is. I am obsessed with pesto, and this tomato pesto has been my favorite this summer. I've been keeping it around for anytime we grill vegetables, or if I just want to give my salad a little something extra. 

a couple of stacks


3 heirloom tomatoes (preferably different colors - one small, medium, and large)
2 avocados
1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
a few pieces of lettuce (of your choice)
about 10 basil leaves
1 shallot, sliced super thin
salt + pepper + really good olive oil
toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

for the tomato pesto:
1/3 cup of pine nuts
1/3 cup of almonds 
a large handful of basil
1 large clove of garlic
5 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper + red pepper flakes


Start by making the pesto:

  • In a small pan, toast the almonds and the pine nuts over medium heat, just for a couple of minutes until they become light brown. Remove them from the heat and allow them to cool. 
  • Then, place the basil, garlic, and tomatoes into a food processor and pulse several times. Then add in the toasted nuts and pulse a couple of times until they are roughly chopped. 
  • Add in the olive oil in a continuous stream until you have the consistency you like. 

Then, prep and assemble the stacks:

  • Slice the zucchini into rounds and place them in a bowl with some salt, and set aside. 
  • Prep the tomatoes and the avocado. Slice the tomatoes into rounds and slice the avocado into thin slices (you can squeeze a little lemon juice over the avocado if you want to keep them from oxidizing / turning brown). 
  • Then, have the rest of the ingredients nearby and get ready to stack. Start by smearing some of the tomato pesto on the bottom of the plate. Then, place the largest tomato slice on top. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Then layer the rest of the stacks like this: some basil, a few slices of avocado, zucchini, a smear of pesto, a piece of lettuce. Do this 2-3 times, until you feel your stacks are tall enough. Then, top with the thinly sliced shallot, any other toppings of your want (toasted pumpkin seeds, nuts, etc) and season with some salt, pepper and olive oil.  Serve immediately.