How to garnish food

Entice little ones with a plate trimmed with fun gelatin cutouts and colorful carrot flowers — the list of eye-catching garnishes is endless.

In this article, we’ll show you how to add excitement to any food with eleven sections of creative garnishes. With easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions and clear how-to photos, you’ll soon progress from a basic radish fan to an impressive chocolate lead with ease.

Take lemons and make lemonade, or create beautiful decorations for your table. You can dress up anything edible — from a simple glass of water to a glazed pork main entree. Not only is citrus colorful, it also smells nice and is easy to work with. In this section, we’ll teach you how to create citrus knots, scored citrus slices, citrus loops, and candied citrus peels.

These garnishes are really creative. Transform a regular lemon or lime into a butterfly that will flitter along your dinner plate. Give the beautiful butterfly a flowery place to land by creating cherry flowers. Or, get even more creative with sugared flowers and fruit. There are always strawberry fans to cool off your shortcake or frosty beverages. Learn how to make these fun fruity garnishes in this section.

Chocolate is irresistible. What’s not to love? It tastes great, tricks the brain into releasing chemicals that make you happy, and it’s beautiful on the plate. Garnishing with chocolate takes a little bit of work, but it’s well-worth the effort. Chocolate curls, cutouts, and chocolate-dipped fruits and nuts are only the beginning. We’ll show you how to melt and pipe dark chocolate and white chocolate, as well as how to make white chocolate curls and cutouts.

Bell peppers are delicious vegetables. Many of the most bell peppers come in the stoplight colors of red, yellow, and green. When shopping for bell peppers, choose peppers that are evenly shaped and without blemishes to get the right results. In this section, we’ll teach you how to make bell pepper rings, baskets, triangles, and cups.

Bugs Bunny was famous for eating carrots. Carrots have been proven to be good for your eyes. They can also improve what your eyes see, especially with these great carrot garnishes. Learn how to turn a regular root into a variety of popular flowers. You can also curl carrots and make carrot stars. You can even use a tiny bit of caviar in one of the garnishes. Find out which one in this section.

Cucumbers and zucchinis are versatile. Their deep green colors add a lot of panache to everyday meals. Keep their outer green peel on the strips you peel — this line of color looks really good on the plate. Most cucumber and zucchini garnishes can be used interchangeably. Learn how to make cucumber and zucchini twists, ribbons, and flowers in this section.

Keep veggies in a bunch by tying them together. Garnishes aren’t just fun to look at — they’re also practical. Vegetable ties are great for buffet meals so guests can easily pick up as many carrots as they want. In this section, we’ll show you how to make different kinds of vegetable garnishes. The vegetables and techniques vary: from radish fans to julienne carrots and turnips, so you’ll want to read it to know how to do a little of everything.

Most people go straight to the watermelon’s juicy red interior and immediately discard the shell. The same is true of pineapple. It’s pretty common to scoop out the tangy yellow fruit and toss the spiky shell. The garnishes in this section recycle the outer casings for both fruit, turning them into delightful baskets and boats. Learn how to make fruit basket garnishes in this section.

Dairy garnishes are fun and surprising. Yes, we’ve all been to nice hotel breakfasts that played host to butter pats carved into pretty shapes. We’ll teach you how to make butter shapes in this section. You’ll also learn some more unexpected uses for dairy. Most people eat hard cooked eggs, but we’ll show you how to turn them into charming egg chicken garnishes. We’ll also teach you how to pipe cream cheese in this section.

Garnishes might seem like decoration tossed on the side of a plate as an afterthought, but they play a significant role in the diner’s experience of food. Usually consisting of an edible component, garnishes brighten the plate, give a clue to the flavor of the meal, complement the taste of the dish or fill empty space on the plate. Garnishes can take many forms depending on the food they are decorating. Herbs, berries, chopped fruit, sauces or vegetable bits are possible garnishes for foods.

Visual Appeal

You experience food with your eyes before tasting it, and the garnish adds a spot of color for your eyes to feast on before the taste touches your tongue or the smell reaches your nose. Garnishes add a spot of color to foods, especially monochromatic ones. Imagine how bland a poached fish fillet and steamed rice on a white plate looks without a bright sprig of parsley or lemon wedge. Even the simplest of garnishes will make a dish appear more appetizing than the same food without garnishing.

Flavor Enhancement

Garnishes enhance the flavor of some dishes. Lemon wedges served with seafood not only add a yellow color to the plate, but the diner can use the juice from the lemon to flavor the food. A mint sprig on top of a fruit dessert lightly infuses the dish with the herb’s refreshing flavor. This is why it is important to choose garnishes that complement the flavors of the food they are served with.

Plate Filler

Some plates look empty, even after the food has been arranged. Garnishes can fill in the empty spaces on a plate, giving the illusion of an abundant dish. This trick is used to surround the serving plates on buffet tables or at salad bars by surrounding the dishes with garnishes of parsley or ice sculptures. A small piece of pale cheesecake in the middle of a large dessert plate appears meager, but decorating the plate with swirls of raspberry or chocolate sauce makes the same portion look more generous. Though the amount of food does not change, the perception of it does just by adding a garnish.

Dish Identification

Some dishes are not readily identifiable just by looking at the food. For instance, it can be difficult to determine if you have a bowl of savory soup of pureed carrots or a sweet dessert soup of pumpkin just by appearance. Both dishes are deep orange in color and thick in texture. Adding a carrot curl on top of carrot soup or a sprinkling of brown sugar and a swirl of cream on a sweet pumpkin soup can help the diner identify what he is about to enjoy.

Garnishes might seem like decoration tossed on the side of a plate as an afterthought, but they play a significant role in the diner’s experience of food. Usually consisting of an edible component, garnishes brighten the plate, give a clue to the flavor of the meal, complement the taste of the dish or fill empty space on the plate. Garnishes can take many forms depending on the food they are decorating. Herbs, berries, chopped fruit, sauces or vegetable bits are possible garnishes for foods.

Visual Appeal

You experience food with your eyes before tasting it, and the garnish adds a spot of color for your eyes to feast on before the taste touches your tongue or the smell reaches your nose. Garnishes add a spot of color to foods, especially monochromatic ones. Imagine how bland a poached fish fillet and steamed rice on a white plate looks without a bright sprig of parsley or lemon wedge. Even the simplest of garnishes will make a dish appear more appetizing than the same food without garnishing.

Flavor Enhancement

Garnishes enhance the flavor of some dishes. Lemon wedges served with seafood not only add a yellow color to the plate, but the diner can use the juice from the lemon to flavor the food. A mint sprig on top of a fruit dessert lightly infuses the dish with the herb’s refreshing flavor. This is why it is important to choose garnishes that complement the flavors of the food they are served with.

Plate Filler

Some plates look empty, even after the food has been arranged. Garnishes can fill in the empty spaces on a plate, giving the illusion of an abundant dish. This trick is used to surround the serving plates on buffet tables or at salad bars by surrounding the dishes with garnishes of parsley or ice sculptures. A small piece of pale cheesecake in the middle of a large dessert plate appears meager, but decorating the plate with swirls of raspberry or chocolate sauce makes the same portion look more generous. Though the amount of food does not change, the perception of it does just by adding a garnish.

Dish Identification

Some dishes are not readily identifiable just by looking at the food. For instance, it can be difficult to determine if you have a bowl of savory soup of pureed carrots or a sweet dessert soup of pumpkin just by appearance. Both dishes are deep orange in color and thick in texture. Adding a carrot curl on top of carrot soup or a sprinkling of brown sugar and a swirl of cream on a sweet pumpkin soup can help the diner identify what he is about to enjoy.

Food tastes just as good as it smells and looks. Now that is a piece of advice that we have all received from our mothers and grandmothers. Your appetite is heavily dependent on what you see on your plate. So, you need some great garnishing ideas for food to make it look good. The only difference is that you might be a busy working woman unlike your mom and grandmum who had lots of time to garnish their kitchen’s creations. That is why, easy ways to garnish food are in high demand now.

Sometimes, the simplest of ingredients like coriander leaves and green chillies can be used to come up with the most awesome garnishing ideas for food. And if you need quick garnishing ideas, then you just have to be smart and think on your feet. Food decoration ideas are something that a good homemaker needs to discover on the spot. The colours that are there in front of you in food you have just cooked should suggest easy ways to garnish the food.

It is not always necessary to have exotic garnish ideas you have copied. You can always throw something together in the last minute and make your everyday dish look delicious. To improve the way your serving table looks, you can certainly use these simple and quick garnishing ideas for food. These ideas are for a busy woman who cannot spend too much time in the kitchen.

How to garnish food

Fried Onions

How much time does it take to fry sliced onions that are crisp and brow? May be 10 minutes. But this traditional garnish idea can make a huge difference to your rice recipe; especially Mughlai ones like biriyani.

How to garnish food

Chopped Coriander Leaves

The most basic and smart way to garnish an Indian curry is to take a bunch of coriander leaves, chop it or break it with your fingers and then spread them delicately over the curry.

How to garnish food

A Spring Of Mint

A single sprig of mint broken fresh from the plant is a very suave way to present your soups and platters. Besides, it adds a light flavour to the dish as well.

How to garnish food

Pinch Of Kesar/Saffron

Saffron is an expensive but common ingredient in most Indian homes. If you have saffron in your stock, you can use a few strands to garnish your kulfis or kheers. The flavour, smell, taste and look of your dish will be changed for the better.

How to garnish food

Fried Dry Fruits

Always soak dry fruits (especially raisins) in water before you fry them. You can fry these dry fruits in ghee and use them to garnish pulao or desserts like kheer.

How to garnish food

Grated Carrot or Cucumber

If you want to add some colour and good health to your kebab or grill platters, try this garnishing trick. Add grated carrots and cucumber on the side of grilled foods like chicken and paneer.

How to garnish food

Sprouts

Did you ever think that sprouts could be a garnish? Well, make a mesh of sprouts over fried eggs or grilled platters to give it an edgy feeling.

How to garnish food

Pickled Onions (Kachummer)

Plain onion rings are boring. But onions chopped, mixed with spices, and dipped in vinegar looks mouth watering. In India, this mixture is called kachummer and often added with kebabs.

How to garnish food

Chopped Lemon

Lemon is a very versatile garnish ingredient. You can slice it to garnish drinks, you can chop it to garnish platters and you can shape it to decorate any kind of food.

How to garnish food

Diced Tomatoes

Diced tomatoes can be halved or quartered when you use them for garnishing. They add a burst of red colour to food that is otherwise colourless.

How to garnish food

Sculpted Bell Peppers

When it comes to adding colour, bell peppers, especially the red and yellow ones, are really good. Try not to chop the bell peppers. Instead, cut through the entire length of the bell pepper and use the sculpted piece for garnishing.

How to garnish food

Chopped Onion Greens

It is a misconception that onion greens have to be cooked to eat them. You can sprinkle raw onion greens on healthy salads and on bakes platters.

How to garnish food

Cherries n Maple Syrup

If you have to dress your dessert at the last minute, use whole cherries and strawberries for colour. If you are garnishing a flat item like pancakes, you can drizzle some maple syrup on it.

How to garnish food

Plain Green Chilles

There is so much you can do with simple green chillies You can chop them finely and sprinkle them on food. You can slice a green chilli from the middle and use it to decorate a platter. Even sticking two green chillies into a thick gravy can be an innovative way to garnish food.

How to garnish food

Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds are an ingenious way to decorate curd-based food in South India. You can easily use this method to garnish mayo or yogurt-based gravies.

How to garnish foodI like to write practical advice. But sometimes, aesthetics matter. My mother made a special pint of ensuring that the colors and textures of teach meal were harmonious. She also had all kinds of little tricks to lay out the food attractively. While I am much more laid back, I still use her tricks when guests come. You’ll rarely catch me serving food out of the storage container or package, even thought it means washing an extra bowl.

Let’s start with serving pieces. Since these are a popular hostess gift, you probably have a few. If not, keep your eye out in bazaars, garage sales and even grocery stores, which usually have a few pieces marked down. Look for a few matching finger bowls, or a platter with several small compartments. Then you can place salads or raw vegetables, sauces or olives in each of the bowls or compartments.

Choose the right size bowl for the amount or it will look skimpy. With small bowls you can offer a variety with less space, and fill as needed. If you are serving a crowd offer more than one bowl of each item. Also, place the food neatly into the bowl and mold it into shape if you can. Leaving scraps on the upper edges of the bowl is unattractive.

Garnishes

Decorate your food with a contrasting color, flavor or texture. Always use fresh and colorful ingredients or you will defeat the purpose. Avoid decorating with fish, meat or cheese as they will shorten the life of the garnished food.

Line your food with vegetables. For instance, place a few lettuce leaves on a plate and add cottage cheese, egg salad or tuna salad. Or cut off the top of a pepper and fill it with chumus. Other example are a scooped out loaf of bread for soup, or a watermelon rind for fruit salad.

Here are some items I often use for garnishing food, along with examples. But don’t be limited—use your imagination.

  • Olives. Example: Tuna salad
  • Pickle slices. Example: Potato salad.
  • Nuts or seeds. Example: Paté.
  • Ground spices. Example: Paprika on egg salad or cream cheese.
  • Grated or thinly sliced fresh vegetables. Example: Radish for a soup garnish. Also try carrots, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, or kohlrabi.
  • Olive oil. Example: Make a well in your chumus and pour in a teaspoon or two.
  • Herbs. Example: Chop and add to soup just before serving. Or use mint leaves for cooked fruit.
  • Lemon or orange slices. Example: Tuna salad or a pitcher of water.

It’s a good idea to keep jars of olives, pickles, and chickpeas on hand in your pantry for unexpected company, along with seeds and nuts in the freezer. And I generally have carrots or citrus fruit available, since they keep fairly well. You can use them as garnishes, or serve them in a small bowl or plate alongside your cooked food.

If you want something a little extra you can try reader Miriam’s tip for making rose buds out of radishes: Cut off the point, make a few half cuts, like a hexagon, and put it in cold water (maybe with salt) to open up.

In this video we discuss how to garnish food and some concepts to take into consideration when planing a completed dish. This video was inspired by a question posted by a YouTube viewer regarding our “Composed Cauliflower Soup” video.

How to garnish food

YouTube User nvj944 asks: “When doing this ‘pour in presentation’ what’s the trick to the garnishes? Are there some that work better than others. Also, the sliced cauliflower doesn’t float right? So, you need to use a wide, shallow bowl otherwise the soup would cover up your beautiful presentation.”

First, let’s address the serving vessel and the issue with the soup covering the garnishes, which honestly isn’t really an issue at all. Part of the “drama” that comes with serving a composed soup is the vanishing garnishes; a plate that was made purely for the pleasure one gets from looking at it, and then covered table side before being consumed.

As far as choosing appropriate garnishes, that’s what this video discussion is really all about.

How to garnish food

When choosing garnishes it is important to first identify the primary ingredient which all other garnishes will enhance. Once the primary ingredient is identified, start choosing garnishes that have complimentary flavors, colors and textures. In the example of the cauliflower soup above, the puree is a smooth consistency which can become quite one dimensional and boring after a few spoonfuls. When the same flavors and textures are tasted over and over, this quickly leads to “palate fatigue” and your primary ingredient becomes much less interesting bite after bite.

Properly chosen garnishes can prevent palate fatigue by introducing contrasting textures and complimentary flavors. When choosing complimentary flavors, take into consideration the overall texture and flavor profile of your primary ingredient. The pureed cauliflower soup contains fat in the form of cream and butter, which, while offering a nice mouth feel, fat is also known to coat the palate and deaden other flavors. This “deadening” effect can be countered by adding “brightness” in the form of acid (think vinegar, citrus, etc.), and/or by adding a little kick through the application of spice, in this case, togarashi.

How to garnish food

Three Rules For Garnishing a Plate

  1. Garnishes should always be functional. If you can’t eat it, it doesn’t belong on the plate. There are a few exceptions like skewers and specialty utensils, but these exceptions are few and far between.
  2. Garnishes should always enhance the primary ingredient. If the garnish doesn’t enhance the flavor of your primary ingredient then it doesn’t belong on the plate.
  3. Garnishes should always add contrasting colors, textures and overall interest. If too many components on a single plate share the same color tone, then your plate will look flat. Try to use garnishes with contrasting colors and textures that don’t break the first two rules.

This video also recommends the use of “The Flavor Bible” for inspiration in finding complimentary ingredients when coming up with a new dish.

The list can go on, but instead, what are your ideas? How can you take fresh pasta and turn it into your own unique dish? Let me know in the comments!

Garnishes might seem like decoration tossed on the side of a plate as an afterthought, but they play a significant role in the diner’s experience of food. Usually consisting of an edible component, garnishes brighten the plate, give a clue to the flavor of the meal, complement the taste of the dish or fill empty space on the plate. Garnishes can take many forms depending on the food they are decorating. Herbs, berries, chopped fruit, sauces or vegetable bits are possible garnishes for foods.

Visual Appeal

You experience food with your eyes before tasting it, and the garnish adds a spot of color for your eyes to feast on before the taste touches your tongue or the smell reaches your nose. Garnishes add a spot of color to foods, especially monochromatic ones. Imagine how bland a poached fish fillet and steamed rice on a white plate looks without a bright sprig of parsley or lemon wedge. Even the simplest of garnishes will make a dish appear more appetizing than the same food without garnishing.

Flavor Enhancement

Garnishes enhance the flavor of some dishes. Lemon wedges served with seafood not only add a yellow color to the plate, but the diner can use the juice from the lemon to flavor the food. A mint sprig on top of a fruit dessert lightly infuses the dish with the herb’s refreshing flavor. This is why it is important to choose garnishes that complement the flavors of the food they are served with.

Plate Filler

Some plates look empty, even after the food has been arranged. Garnishes can fill in the empty spaces on a plate, giving the illusion of an abundant dish. This trick is used to surround the serving plates on buffet tables or at salad bars by surrounding the dishes with garnishes of parsley or ice sculptures. A small piece of pale cheesecake in the middle of a large dessert plate appears meager, but decorating the plate with swirls of raspberry or chocolate sauce makes the same portion look more generous. Though the amount of food does not change, the perception of it does just by adding a garnish.

Dish Identification

Some dishes are not readily identifiable just by looking at the food. For instance, it can be difficult to determine if you have a bowl of savory soup of pureed carrots or a sweet dessert soup of pumpkin just by appearance. Both dishes are deep orange in color and thick in texture. Adding a carrot curl on top of carrot soup or a sprinkling of brown sugar and a swirl of cream on a sweet pumpkin soup can help the diner identify what he is about to enjoy.

Despite that annoying sprig of parsley that often graces serving platters and sits atop side dishes before being plucked out of the way, garnishes can be functional and pleasing to the eye. Dishes need to be balanced, and herbs and other garnishes enhance dishes by increasing complexity through an added dimension of flavor. Rethink garnishes to understand what to use and where to use them for an elevated meal.

What Can Be Used to Garnish?

Herbs like parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary are among the most common garnishes because they are fresh and often brighten a dish or cut through rich, dense flavor palates. Other ingredients that can be used as garnishes include slices of citrus like lemon, lime or orange. Edible flowers and leafy greens also make good garnishes because they fill the plate and add color.

Leaves and herbs: Some of the most popular green leaves for cooking and other herbs to use are oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and basil. Basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano are classic herb combinations for Italian food. Others, such as chives and parsley, are often added to cooked foods like baked potatoes after they are cooked so the herbs do not lose their flavor. Bay leaves and sage are both aromatic leaves that can withstand cooking heat, which often enhances their aromatic qualities. Lighter additions to raw or fresh foods, such as salads, include basil and cilantro. Flavorful contributions to more specifically prepared dishes, such as curry, include mint, lemongrass and dill.

Roots and Greens: Greens are often used to line plates, though they may also be eaten with the dish. In some cases, greens are prepared as a small side salad on a plate, which also serves as a garnish to fill out the plate. While butter crisp, endive and leaf lettuces are classic choices for garnishes, curly kale and purple kale are more unusual options that are interesting to the eye.

A couple of roots that are often prepared and used as garnish are ginger and horseradish. Either root can simply be finely grated and placed on the side of a dish so your guests can add as little or as much spice and heat as they want. Horseradish can also be prepared in a cream sauce to tone down the level of heat it brings.

Edible Flowers: Not many people think to use edible flowers as food decorations to garnish a dish, but they are always a pleasing addition thanks to the bright pop of color they contribute. Though all are not available year-round, there are many options for edible flowers that can be used throughout most seasons.

Calendula flowers and pansies are available year-round. Heart’s ease pansies, the deep purple ones, are a beautiful addition because of their deep, rich color. Petals are often plucked from calendula flowers and sprinkled into a salad mainly for their color as the flower is not very flavorful.

Nasturtium can be used from September to April. Marigolds are grown between November and April. Nasturtiums are fragile and look similar to pansies, though they are typically a bright red, yellow or orange color. The leaves of this plant add a peppery kick when added to food, and its seeds can be pickled to taste similar to capers. Marigolds are quite similar to calendula flowers. Apart from adding to salads, you can use the petals of this flower in place of saffron to yield a bright yellow color, particularly in rice dishes.

Cornflowers bloom from November to May, while verbena is often found between December and April, making it one of the latest blooming edible flowers. Cornflowers are a bright purple, fringy looking flower. Purple is the most commonly found, but pink and white varieties are also edible. Verbena adds a subtle lemon flavor to dishes and is available in white, pink and red varieties.

How Are Garnishes Chosen?

Garnishes are selected in accordance with how they will balance a dish and benefit the aesthetics of the presentation. Though some garnishes are purely for food decoration, many are there for function.

When considering the flavor profile of a dish, there are several key elements to balancing the flavor while creating complexity as well. Fattiness is diminished by acid and heat, just as sweetness is tamed by saltiness. Notes or subtleties of garnishes, such as smokey, clean and fresh aromatics, tartness or a lot of spiciness, enhances the flavors that are already present while introducing that additional component. For example, beef is sometimes accompanied by horseradish, which adds heat, though that heat can be toned down if mixed with a dairy product like sour cream. The heat of the horseradish and the creaminess of the sour cream balance the smokiness of the beef to create a more complex dish.

Garnishes that serve a visual appeal are often used on plates of hors d’oeuvres or appetizers. This type of garnish usually fills an otherwise lacking plate. For example, if you’re serving deviled eggs on something other than a deviled egg platter, butter crisp or leaf lettuce can be used to line the plate before arranging the egg halves on top. Usually a sprig of dill is also used to top the deviled egg halves, which is a visually pleasing addition that brings a fresh, lifting flavor to the egg and its relish mixture.

What Is the Difference Between Garnish and Decoration?

Again, garnish can enhance the taste of a dish. While some garnishes are used for visual purposes, they can often be consumed with whatever the plated dish is. Decoration is purely a visual component. For example, if serving a crudité platter, leaf lettuce, butter crisp lettuce or kale can be laid flat on the plate first before the raw vegetables are arranged. While the greens are layered under the raw vegetables to tie the presentation of the plate together, the greens can also be eaten with whatever dip is served with the other vegetables. Decorations to a crudité platter that should not be eaten and which are solely there for visual improvement are large sprigs of parsley, dill, rosemary or thyme that protrude from the accompanying dip.

Is There a Need to Garnish Food Before Serving?

While prepared dishes are certainly fine to serve without garnishing, taking the extra step to pair a garnish to the dish does elevate the overall plate. The garnish adds complexity and freshness to the dish while showing a level of care in its preparation. Garnishes like herbs and lemons for dishes such as seafood, fish, chicken and side dishes should be added before serving.

Best Garnishes for Light Fare

Lighter fare should be accompanied by garnishes that are not overpowering. Fresh flavors like cilantro, basil, chives, lime and orange are safe bets. Think about what will accompany the dish well. A spring salad can be improved with edible flowers, basil and cilantro, while a fall salad would likely benefit from rosemary and thyme. If serving an appetizer, make sure the garnish is properly prepared so it is not difficult to bite through or eat. Garnish should be small enough to eat in a single bite.

Best Garnishes for Main Dishes

Garnishes for main dishes should be flavorful, rather than subtle. Lemons provide a lot of acidity, which brightens, lifts and lightens heavy or dense dishes. Though less acidic and packing much more heat, horseradish can have a similar effect. Rosemary is a strong aromatic, so it is best served with main meat-centric dishes when the food is roasted in the oven or stewed. Sage, which does not lose its flavor during cooking, is a great choice for light meats and hearty pastas.

Photo by: Armando Rafael Moutela ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Armando Rafael Moutela, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

When it comes to serving food, presentation may not be everything — there’s taste to consider, after all — but studies have shown it can have a surprisingly big impact on how the foods we prepare are perceived. When we cook and plate to please the eye, as it happens, we also please the palete.

This week’s news that Red Lobster, in order “to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood,” would stack food “higher on plates, as is the style at fancier restaurants,” as the Associated Press put it, brings that point home. Whether arranging the same food — fish, rice and vegetables — vertically, rather than spread out on the plate, will boost the seafood chain’s bottom line remains to be seen. Still, you may find in it the impetus to experiment with your own meal presentation.

Choose the Right Canvas: Colorful plates can be fun, and your grandma’s gilded wedding china makes a meal an occasion (at least until someone breaks something), but research has shown that simple round white plates and square black plates enhance people’s perception of food quality and how enjoyable the food is. Round white plates can also increase the perception of flavor intensity and sweetness.

Consider Color, As Well As Shape and Texture: When planning meals, aim to include vivid hues and contrasts. Fruits and veggies (blanched or steamed, perhaps) are visually, as well as nutritionally, important. No one gets excited about a plate full of blah browns and beiges.

Take a Big-Picture View: Before you put food on the plate, visualize how it will appear — play with symmetry, geometry, sequencing and unity, repetition, proportion, balance, focal points, lines and flow, as you apportion space to each meal element. (As you lay out the elements, some people recommend, think of your plate as the face of a clock.) Try placing an odd number of foods on the plate, which is thought to enhance food’s visual appeal.

Embrace White Space: Keep portions modest and allow plenty of white space on the plate, which highlight the food and make it look more valuable and worth savoring. You should leave at least a half inch — probably more — between the food and the inside edge of the plate’s outer rim.

Look to Layers: You, like Red Lobster, can get extra impact by stacking your protein, starches and/or veggies. Don’t overdo it on the verticality, though, or your Eiffel Tower may start to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Get Saucy, and Go for the Garnish: A dab or splash or drizzle of color can go a long way. Don’t drown your food or set it afloat in sauce. And make sure you choose a garnish or sauce with a flavor that matches — and enhances — the flavor of the dish. A good garnish never overpowers.

Get creative, but remember, presentation should never come at the cost of taste, temperature or practicality. No one likes a hot meal past its prime, no matter how pretty it looks on the plate.