Garnishing Tips

A male chef garnishing a plate of food.
Radish fans are easy garnishes. John Rensten / Getty Images


Q. What function does the garnish serve?


A. The garnish is the finishing touch! It makes your dishes look even more appetizing.

Making food look as good as it tastes is easy, if you add the right garnish. While parsley is a staple decoration, there's so much more you can do to perk up a plate.

  • Color and Texture: Pick a garnish that enhances the color and texture of the food it will accompany. For example, use a bright-colored garnish with light-colored foods, or accent soft-textured food with a crisp garnish.
  • Size: Size the garnish to the presentation: use large garnishes on platters, and small ones on plates.

Here are some ideas for interesting -- and edible -- garnishes that are sure to liven-up the food presentation at your next party.


Green Onion Curls

Cut off roots with a paring knife. Cut a 3-inch piece from each stalk, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of both the white and green portions. Make lengthwise cuts in the green portion, repeating to slice the green end into thin slivers. Place onion in cold water, and let stand 30 seconds or until ends curl slightly. Drain well, and store refrigerated in an airtight container until needed.


Radish Fans

Trim ends with a sharp paring knife, then cut 1/8-inch-thick slices, being careful not to cut all the way through. Place in ice water and refrigerate several hours until radishes fan out. Drain well before using. Add a sprig of parsley for contrast, if desired.


Tomato Roses

Core the tomato, then cut a thin slice off the bottom. Starting at the top, peel the tomato skin off in a continuous strip with a paring knife, using a gentle sawing motion. To form the "rose," roll the strip into a coil, and tuck the end under the "rose" to secure it. Add parsley or other green herb leaves for a finishing touch.


Fluted Mushrooms

Clean and dry mushrooms; remove the stems. Hold the paring knife at a 45-degree angle, and cut a 1/8-inch thick groove from the top of the mushroom to the edge of the cap, making 6 to 8 cuts. With the knife tip, remove the cutouts, then dip the mushrooms into lemon juice to keep them from browning. Add parsley or other green herb leaves, if you prefer.


Strawberry Fans

Choose strawberries with intact stems. With a paring knife, make 4 or 5 lengthwise cuts, almost to the stem end. Fan slices apart, but be careful to keep the stem end intact.


Chocolate Cutouts

Use 1 teaspoon of shortening for every 2 ounces of chocolate. Melt the mixture in a double boiler (be careful not to get any water into the chocolate). Pour the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Cool until the chocolate is firm (don't chill in the refrigerator). Cut the chocolate into various shapes with hors d'oeuvre or cookie cutters. Loosen the chocolate from the waxed paper with a metal spatula. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to use.