Salad Brain Exercise–Just Tomatoes

by Min Merrell

Salad Brain is a creativity platform.

These exercises use the platter, rather than the typical deep salad bowl, as the canvas for creation and a means to illustrate the universal process of creative thinking and design. No matter the field, the steps of creativity are the same. Here we’re using salads because we all have some experience with salad, a low-stakes, easy medium for practicing everyday creativity. Plus, your installation will feed you beautifully and well, and shouldn’t we all be eating more salads anyway?


For an introduction to getting in touch with your salad brain, read Welcome to Salad Brain Creativity.


Lots of varieties of tomatoes in various shapes and sizes.


This exercise explores how playing around with different varieties of one ingredient can add interest to a salad. Your favorite farmstand likely has lots of varieties so get a bunch and play around. Notice how some reds go toward orange and some varieties like Cherokees go toward blue. Mix it up and cut them differently. Be sure to include some cherry tomatoes that come in rounds, pear, and oblong shapes. Cut them in cute circles. Keep some whole. Also, be sure to notice how each variety of tomato has different taste characteristics. What are your favorites?  See how you can create a drop-dead gorgeous platter salad with just tomatoes.  Here, I’ve got an herby mayonnaise as the dressing on the side.


Edit. What is the focal point? What if you only use cherry tomatoes.  Incorporate some really big slices to contrast the little cherries. Go for varieties that all share the same color characteristics. Add one different one.  Consider the rest of the meal and how the tomatoes fit in.  What kind of dressing, tomatoes take well to vinaigrette and creamy.  With only one ingredient in the salad, take some care with the dressing. Remember your parameters according to the rest of the meal. Sure make some homemade mayo. How about some good old thousand island, ranch, balsamic, or a tangy salsa verde. Where will you put the dressing? How about underneath the tomatoes?

What if you added just one ingredient to the tomatoes. What would it be?  Think how different the salad could be if that one ingredient was cheese? Blue cheese crumbles, shredded nutty pecorino, parmesan curls, bright American sharp cheddar, velvety burrata.

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