In the full spirit of ungrinch, we watch Christmas cartoons throughout the year. One beloved classic in our family is Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas. In his quest to find the perfect gift for the Man in the Yellow Hat, George visits one of their favorite restaurants to learn how to recreate a tomato snowman in hopes of making the man happy. The kids really wanted to try making our own tomato snowman, just like in the movie, so we decided to go for it. A perk to this is that we love caprese salad, so it was really a win win for kids and parents. It was also really fun and it's now something we are going to do annually as part of our celebrations leading up to Christmas day. We still have some honing to do, but I think this recipe, once I can nail the technique, will be an awesome addition to our Christmas day menu. Here's what we did. Let me also put out there that I am totally open to suggestions, so feel free to leave a comment below if you have any construction or recipe tips!
- 6-12 tomatoes (Campari are ideal, but if not available, aim for a small, round variety)
- 5 Mozzarella balls (2 sliced)
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 5-6 toothpicks
As you can see from the photo above, we just arranged our snowman on a plate. Rookie mistake, but we were just practicing right? I'd recommend using a nice holiday-themed platter so that you can space out the snowmen and give a better overall presentation. Our next lesson came with learning we used tomatoes that were just plain too big. It made construction more challenging than necessary and our snowman stood up for about two minutes after I took that photo. For my next round, I would definitely aim for the Campari tomatoes because they are small, round and delicious. I also modified some of the directions below where I think we made a few other rookie mistakes (not slicing all the cheese and uniform stacking for example) so that your construction would run smoother.
Start by slicing two of the mozzarella balls so that we could layer between tomatoes. This helps balance the tomatoes and add more cheese for your caprese-style snowman. Use the toothpicks to keep the tomatoes stacked together: poke one tomato with half the toothpick, add a slice of mozzarella and one fresh basil leaf in between, and then top with the next tomato. Do this twice so that the snowman was three tomatoes deep.
For the snowman's arms, stick two more toothpicks in on either side and wrap two fresh basil leaves around each toothpick on each side. For extra balance and ambiance on the bottom, cut the remaining basil leaves Chiffonade style (stack the leaves on top of each other, gently roll them into a cigar, and then use a sharp knife to slice them into thin ribbons) and sprinkled them over the top of the remaining unsliced cheese balls.
Finally, drizzle the entire snowman with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and enjoy the delicious holiday treat!