Tomato roses. You may have seen them at fancy parties, restaurants, or even your local grocery store deli (which is where I originally learned the art of making them!) A tomato rose is an elegant way to dress up your dishes at your next family gathering or special event. Even though it may look difficult to create, almost anyone can make a tomato rose garnish. Follow these steps and you’ll create your very own tomato rose to impress your guests at your next event!
To make a tomato rose garnish you will need:
- Sharp paring knife
- Cutting board or other flat surface
- Medium size tomato (firm to the touch)
- Greens for added detail - mint, lettuce, sage, or other type of leaf
The key to successfully learning how to make a tomato rose is by using the right tool. A sharp paring knife is essential, as it allows you to control the depth and direction of your cuts. A dull blade will make it virtually impossible to create a pretty tomato rose.
The right tomato is important. Look for these qualities:
- Firm and smooth
- No marks or blemishes. (Blemishes and marks make it more likely that the peel will break during the cutting process.)
- Good red color (although other shades of tomatoes can make beautiful roses as well!)
Generally, I buy vine ripened tomatoes because they seem to be a prettier shade of red and of a good size. Any size tomato can be used to make a rose, but I prefer ones that are about the size of a baseball or slightly smaller, mostly because they are easier to hold while peeling.
Start at the bottom. Turn the tomato upside down so that the stem side is in the palm of your hand and the bottom is facing you. Starting about 3/4” from the center, cut a strip of the skin across the bottom that is about 1” wide and about 1 ½” long. Keep the knife blade just under the skin of the tomato and be sure not to cut through the peel completely, as the end goal is one continuous peel from the entire tomato. At the end of the cutting process, this wide piece is going to be the base for your rose, which will keep it from unraveling.
This is probably the trickiest part. While cutting, slowly turn the tomato and without detaching the base, begin peeling the tomato in a single strip, about 1/2" wide, in the same manner you would peel an apple.
Cut around the tomato keeping the cut the same depth, close to the skin of the tomato. As you get near the original cut aim to cut under and below it. Continue cutting around the tomato, keeping the skin all in one piece. Gradually make the strip of tomato skin slightly narrower as you get closer to the core.
Finally cut the skin from the tomato. The skin should be in a single piece with a wide end and a narrow end.
Carefully lay the peel out, fleshy side up, on your work surface the best you can. You can start at either end for rolling your roses, I have provided images for both, depending on which you find easier.
Starting at the base: Make the outside ring by loosely positioning a layer of the peel around the outer edge of the base.
Starting from the core: Using your fingertips, begin rolling the rose, keeping it tight and curling it around itself.
From base: Continue twisting the layers into the center of the rose loosely enough that you can still add to the center.
From core: Continue rolling the peel around itself. This is easiest done with the peel set down on the cutting board and curling each layer around the outside.
Finished! One, very easy, tomato rose!
There is a very slight difference to the center of the rose depending on which way it was wrapped. The rose started from the base has more of a twisted in center due to trying to fit the last part of the peel to the middle, as compared to the rose started from the middle which has a more uniform appearance.
Finishing touches: To add a little extra color to your tomato rose, add some greens to form the rose leaves when you place it on a serving tray. I used parsley and spinach leave for my roses, but other great greens include: mint, sage, lettuce, and kale. Don't hesitate to be creative and try different ideas, even purple leaves make a beautiful presentation!
Just for FUN! and a big challenge... try grape tomatoes!!
As mentioned before, any size tomato will work, if you have the skill and the desire to try it. I find a serrated paring knife works better for the smaller size because it cuts slower and allows for more precision narrow cutting.
Finished Tomato roses to give that added beauty to any display!
Storing: Tomato roses can be covered and refrigerated for several hours or overnight. But, if you are making your tomato rose garnish ahead of time, keep it fresh by soaking it in very cold water. The cold water will help maintain freshness and enhance the appearance when used later.