Garnishing a Meal: More Than Just A Pretty Plate

Blackened Salmon garnished with Feta, Basil, and Fresh Tomato

So, you have dinner on the table with the last ounce of energy you could muster for the day and the thought comes to you, how I can garnish it? … Uh, hardly.  I know, it should be enough to have dinner done every day, but a simple garnish can transform a meal from ho-hum to ta-da! with little effort.  An easy rule of thumb to is, if it goes in it, it can go on it.  If a recipe calls for celery and onion, then celery leaves and scallions will be a complementary garnish when served.  The fresh components of those ingredients already in a dish create a bright, enzyme-rich finish.  These are just a few suggestions using common grocery items as a garnish to make any meal even more appealing.

Avocado — sliced or cubed, avocado goes on tacos, grilled or blackened fish, breakfast eggs, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more.

Croutons — go beyond the usual salad, this cupboard staple works great for soups too.  It won’t boost the nutritional value of the meal, but does add interest and texture.

Fresh herbs add color, flavor, and increase nutritional value. If a recipe calls for dried herbs, adding the same herb as a fresh garnish is guaranteed to enhance the dish.  These are three I use most often on just about everything.

Parsley — that leafy green sprig placed on many restaurant plates is there for more than contrast, it is a digestive aid and breath freshener.  This mild herb is a great place to begin if unfamiliar with using fresh herbs.

Cilantro — a cousin to parley, sometimes called Chinese parsley, fresh cilantro can be used in the same manner as parsley, placement of a stem and leaves or chopped and sprinkled atop a meal.

Basil — used for more than pesto, basil is an aromatic and beautiful garnish when julienned and sprinkled over pasta dishes or grilled meats. Basil varieties are fun to experiment with allowing flavor accents of lemon or cinnamon to bring new dimensions to old favorites.

Fennel fronds, celery leaves, and scallions are often regarded as waste when they could be used to garnish instead.

Lemon / Lime / Orange — citrus wedges or slices brighten and enhance meats, salads, and vegetables with a fresh squeeze of Vitamin C on each plate.

Nuts & Seeds — not just for your morning yogurt, nuts and seeds add crunch and texture to vegetable dishes and fruit or lettuce salads. Fiber, healthy oils, and antioxidants make these a garnish powerhouse.

Parmesan, Feta, Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola, and Chèvre (soft goat cheese) deliver on taste with only a small amount, so strong-flavored cheeses like these are ideal on grilled meat, pasta, burgers, salads, soups, Quiche, and vegetables.

Tomatoesseed and chop tomatoes, or quarter grape tomatoes; toss with salt and pepper before adding as a topper (allow to sit for 5-10 minutes). The salt will help the tomatoes release a little juice and enhance flavor. Use fresh, seeded tomatoes to garnish scrambled eggs, grilled meats, crostini, soups, or pasta dishes.

Beef Stroganoff Garnished with Parmesan and Parsley

Chopped Fresh Tomatoes & Basil Garnish

Shaved Parmesan & Goat Cheese Garnish

Sliced Almond Garnish on Green Beans

Crouton Garnish on Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cilantro, Avocado, Sour Cream Garnish

Fruit, Walnut, and Feta Garnish on Roasted Asparagus

Celery Leaf Garnish on Seafood Chowder

Lime Wedge Garnish with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Is there a favorite garnish you like to use? 

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
Girlichef for EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday


4 responses to “Garnishing a Meal: More Than Just A Pretty Plate

  1. Great tips! I do need this as I usually take photos in my blog and sometimes I am thinking how to garnish them

  2. I love your tips here! I use parsley a lot- mostly because my parsley plant is going nuts on my patio. I had never thought to use a celery leaf! Great ideas here!

  3. Yup, I completely agree! Edible garnish can transform ho-hum into fabulous 😀

  4. Pingback: Omelets: Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder (or Taster) | Savoring Today

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