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Making An Attractive Meal: Food Garnish Ideas

— State: Louisiana Department of Education
Updated on Oct 26, 2010

One important basic in food preparation is garnishing. Garnishes improve the appearance of the food. An attractive and appealing appearance stimulates the desire to taste new food. Garnishing also helps to draw attention to foods that might not be chosen. Some rules of garnishing that the food service staff should consider include the following:

  • Make sure the garnishes chosen are within the food service budget, not too time consuming, and easily prepared.
  • Consider the flavor of both the garnish and the food. Bland foods require more highly flavored garnishes such as lemon slices that are sprinkled with paprika.
  • Avoid extreme contrasts since flavors should complement each other.
  • Choose garnishes that are edible.
  • Garnish each pan of food, the salad bars, and the serving line, instead of eachplate.
  • Don’t overgarnish.

A well-planned meal having a good mix of colors needs little garnishing. For example, a brightly colored fruit or vegetable can jazz up the line and plate. Listed below are some suggestions for garnishing.

  •  Sliced orange, lemon, and lime wedges, circles or even twists make beautiful garnishes. Lemon with fish, lime with gelatin, and orange with a fruit salad are likewise appealing.
  • Cucumbers add interest and crunch to salads. Running the tines of a fork down the sides of an unpeeled cucumber creates an interesting affect.
  • Raw carrots can be used many ways as garnishes. Grated, chopped or cut into strips and circles, they add color. Carrot curls are created by making long strips of carrots with a vegetable peeler and placing them in ice water for one to two hours.
  • Small amounts of fresh spinach add life to regular lettuce salads while increasing the nutritional value!
  • Broccoli or parsley added to food items is eye-catching.
  • Red, yellow, and green pepper can be sliced or diced into small pieces and sprinkled into the soups or salads.
  • Red apples should not be peeled: the peeling adds color to salads and fruit.
  • Gelatin cubes make colorful interesting garnishes. One complementary color of gelatin cubes as a garnish for another color gelatin dessert can create excitement.
  • Green, white or red onions add flavor, color, and crispness when chopped or cut into rings and strips.
  • Cabbage also adds color. Red, green and white varieties contribute crunchiness,too.
  • Serving the bright, colorful menu items in clear dishes gets the most benefit from the colors.
  • Whole fruits and vegetables make colorful centerpieces on the serving line.
  • Sliced tomatoes or peppers can be placed on food items.

Tasty food that is attractively served in appropriate portions for the students will be more readily accepted and eaten.

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