Here is a 'how to' for the creation of a simple tomato flower garnish as a table centrepiece, a salad accompaniment, or just an attractive edible plate adornment. It is guaranteed to brighten up any plain salad. The beauty of this food activity is there's no cooking involved.
What you need
- Firm, ripe tomatoes (one tomato will provide two tomato flowers)
- A sharp kitchen knife
- Salt to taste
Create Tomato Flowers
Clean the tomato, then hold it between your finger and thumb so that its stalk, or where it used to be, is to the side. Take the paring knife with your other hand and pierce the tomato skin on an angle, entering the tomato approximately half-way. Your cut should be the exact width of the knife blade. If this is your first attempt, cut the tomato all the way through and just pierce the skin on the exact opposite side. Remove the knife, turn the tomato a fraction away from you, then reinsert the knife at the point you removed it, but in the opposite direction to the first cut. This will create a 'V' with your first two cuts. Repeat until you are back to where you started, your last cut should meet up with the pierced skin. With a little luck your last cut will match up with your first and your tomato flower will separate in the centre with ease. As with all things, practice makes perfect. Your flower should have eight equal points but you can adapt this as you become adept at carving tomatoes. And there's no waste - any flowers not good enough for your guests can be eaten immediately.
Ways to Serve
Your tomato flowers can be used raw as a garnish for plates of sandwiches, but don't stop there. Serve with salad and you can expect many compliments. For an individual salad or someone with a small appetite, the tomato flower can be cut again (see the author's photo) to provide tomato cat faces which are guaranteed to raise a smile.
If you fancy something warm inside you, you could put feta cheese inside scooped out flowers then grill1 them. If you're preparing a Full English Breakfast then it's worth going the extra mile. Create your tomato flowers but then pop them in the grill with the bacon and sausages so they're warm when you serve up. Don't let them burn though!
Once you have got the knack of preparing your tomato flowers, you can experiment with different ingredients to create fabulous tomato flower starters. Scoop out the innards and you can put your favourite fillings in them. Suggestions include mashed-up hard-boiled eggs, tuna mayonnaise, blue cheese, cream cheese with herbs, couscous, bulgur wheat or a saffron rice salad with finely chopped olives, peppers, spring onions etc. A personal favourite filling of the author's is a salad which consists of tuna, boiled rice and garden peas mixed together then bound with salad cream or mayonnaise. Bon appetit!