For a refreshing summertime appetizer, fill bite-size cherry tomatoes, round or pear shaped, with a savory mixture of cream cheese flavored with basil. Minced tarragon or chervil can be used in place of the basil.
Original Yield: 24 Main Ingredient: Cream Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes
Chop or mince basil into small pieces especially if you are going to use an icing tube to fill the tomatoes with the cream cheese mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, 1 tablespoon half-n-half, basil, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork or spatula until well blended. Continue to add last tablespoon of half-n-half slowly until desired consistency is met. Allow to come to room temperature as you prepare the tomatoes. This will allow for an easier time when filling the tomato shells with the icing tube as the cream cheese comes to room temperature.
Remove the top of each tomato with a serrated knife and trim if necessary to flatten the bottom. While having tomato still in hand, attempt to remove as much pulp as possible and discard. Save tomato tops for garnish. Turn tomato upside down on an paper towel to help in absorbing the juices. After all tops have been removed and this first step is complete then move on to the next step. The messy part is mostly over.
Using a small spoon or small mellon baller scoop out any remaining inside pulp to make a hollow yet sturdy shell. Set each shell open side up on serving dish. Garnish with parsley sprigs to help keep tomatoes in place.
Using the small spoon, fill each tomato with about 1 tsp. of the cheese mixture.
If you can use a cake decorating tube, then you can also use this to fill the tomatoes and create a pleasant swirl. You will need to add enough half-n-half so that the consistency is like frosting. Pick a large enough tube end so that the basil does not get stuck.
To finish off the platter, fill a center dish with extra or leftover basil cream cheese. Place tomato trim tops around the inside of the bowl and add additional parsley for garnish. If you have leftover room on you platter, fill it with cucumber slices, crackers, sweet garden peas or any other food that would go great with the cream cheese. I used the tomato tops around the inside of the center bowl that contained extra filling. If you do not use an icing tube to fill the tomatoes, you can use the little tops to garnish each filled tomato. Sprinkle a little parsley over the entire platter for a final finish.