Food Art: Tomato Roses, Onion Mums, and Scullion Brushes

Have you ever made a salad or an entree for your guests and just wished you could make it look a little nicer? Every time I prepare a fresh salad it turns out delicious but a little boring to look at. Good food is one thing, but good food that’s also beautiful takes your cooking to the next level! There’s actually some fairly simple ways you can take ordinary veggies and make them work a little harder for you. The video here shows some easy techniques for making flowers out of tomatoes and onions, and brushes out of scallions. This is food art!


The first one shown is surprisingly simple. Since you might be skinning your tomatoes for the meal anyways, why not put a little extra care into how you use the skin? By just carefully carving the skin off in a long, thin single piece you can then roll it up into a pretty looking rose to set on the completed plate. Whenever I’ve made a tomato sauce for spaghetti, I skin the tomatoes so that the little curled up pieces don’t end up in every bite. Next time, I’m going to try this out and garnish the side salads with some pretty tomato roses!

Making a Tomato rose

Red onions can have a nice shade of color, but if you just cut them up into rings you’re missing out on the extra flare you could give your dishes. To make these same onions into mum flowers, all you have to do is take the onion and cut it in half in a zig-zagged “crown” shape. Cut through the thick center as you would to make rings, not around the top and bottom. When you take the two halves apart, un-peel all of the layers and combine them back again without lining up all the edges together perfectly. The result is a great looking onion mum that your guests are sure to comment about!

Onion mums

Scallions by themselves are not particularly pretty vegetables, although they can taste very nice with your meals. Just a minute of work and a little time can change their purpose altogether and let you dress up whatever you’re serving! Take the scallion and cut the root end off as well as the green stalk. Then take your knife and make a lot of thin cuts through the scallion at one end, running all the way up close to the other end (but not all the way across!). It doesn’t look like much yet, but when you soak it in water for an hour or longer, the ends will separate and curl up a bit, making a pretty brush design to complement whatever dish you’re serving. Check out the video to see what the end result should look like, so you know when to remove your own from the water.

Everyone seems to make food art look very difficult. This doesn’t have to be the case, because there are tons of simple things you can do that will only take a few minutes and will really dress up your plate. I’m surprised by just how easy some of these techniques are, and a little embarrassed that I didn’t think of them myself… So take a stab at some fancy food art next time you invite someone for dinner and just see how impressed they’ll be!