Have you ever heard the expression “you eat with your eyes first?” Making food aesthetically appealing is just as important as making it taste delicious. A simple way to really enhance the beauty of any dish is with some simple garnishing. Natural ingredients and a little imagination are all you need to transform any dish into something beautiful. Color, shape, texture and taste are all things to consider when choosing garnishes for your dishes.
Herbs are one of the most common garnishes used in cooking. Fresh herbs brighten any dish with a splash of vibrant green color and an added burst of healthy flavor. Here are some examples of herb garnishes:
Garnish pasta dishes with some fresh basil sprigs or chopped parsley. Paula’s slow cooker cheese stuffed meatballs and sauce is a perfect example of this, the parsley garnish on this dish really brightens it up.
Some chives or scallions also add a lovely touch of green. Smashed potato pancakes are taken to the next level with a few pieces of scallions on an otherwise not so colorful dish.
Mint is a lovely garnish for desserts or drinks. The mint sprigs used in mint ice tea really dress up the glass. Wilmington Island marsh mud cake is completely transformed with a little mint and a pile of fresh raspberries.
Use longer stems of rosemary or thyme to garnish platters of meat such as pot roast or roast chicken. The long sprigs of rosemary with these grilled rosemary lamb chops accentuate the heartiness of the dish. Or use some fresh thyme sprigs like Paula does with her roast prime rib of beef to add elegant color.
Herbs are fragile and bruise easily, snipping them with kitchen shears instead of chopping with a knife helps to preserve their beauty.
Citrus is another wonderful garnish to accompany food or beverages. Simply zesting a lime or lemon over a dish adds delicious flavor and great color. Sliced wedges or wheels added to a plate are another great technique for using citrus, beautiful along side fish or poultry. The artfully placed lemon slices on these crab cakes add a lovely color contrast, or use halved limes like with grilled salmon with key lime butter. Not only does it dress up the plate but also it gives your diners something to squeeze over their fish for extra flavor.
Make large peels using fresh vegetables and a vegetable peeler for another decorative garnish. Paula uses a fresh carrot to dress up her Grandma Hier’s carrot cake. The whimsical ribbons of carrot on top of this cake are so easy to create and make it look so amazing!
Nuts & Chocolate
Nuts or chocolate are a great way to garnish desserts. Chopped pecans on top of the banana nut cake with cream cheese frosting cut some of the sweetness from the frosting while adding a nice crunch. Using a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate curls over a chocolaty dessert allows the dish to take on a whole new dimension. Paula’s frozen chocolate mousse pie is a great example of this fun technique.
With your next meal take some of these simple tips to give your dishes that 5 star restaurant quality look.