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The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics: Garnish

Updated on October 12, 2015


A garnish should provide a visual contrast, but not be too elaborate.

Garnishes can be of many types ranging from black or green olives to edible flowers and herbs. Herbs with a woody texture, such as rosemary and thyme should not be used, but many other herbs are suitable. The following list includes a few of the common ones.


The sweet fragrant flavour of basil is superb with tomatoes and sweet peppers. Its fragrance is soon lost and it is best added to salads just before serving. Basil leaves should be torn, not chopped.


A small, delicate, feathery-leaved plant. Chervil has a milk licorice flavour and is excellent in cream dressings, with eggs, and as a constituent with parsley, chives, and tarragon in the traditional French mixture, fines herbes. Like basil, its flavour is soon lost, and it is best added to the dressing or salad just prior to serving.


Chives, like chervil, goes well with all products. It has a delicate flavour.


Chop the anise-flavoured leaves and use freely with grated carrot and more sparingly over cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, and potato salad.


This has a milk, pleasant flavour.


There are innumerable varieties of mint. The two best for culinary uses are the common spearmint and the round-leaved apple mint.


Consider the presentation possibilities. Bowls, plates and platters can all be used to display salads. They may be large or small, wood or glass. Dining room displays may involve trolleys, ice beds or cold trays.

Despite the possibilities for very attractive and eye-catching presentations, salads are often prepared and served carelessly. There is no excuse for this. If you buy good ingredients, pay attention to the details when you prepare them, and use a little thought and imagination in presenting them, your salads can add greatly to the visual impact of your table.


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      Dionne Baldwin 7 years ago

      It's amazing how a simple garnish can really increase the visual appeal of a dish! I need to get better at garnishing. :)

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      Eileen 7 years ago

      Garnish makes everything look more special even my more feeble efforts. Also like the fact that most garnish can be grown in a pot on a balcony. Great stuff!

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      Amanda 7 years ago

      Garnish is a bit like accessorizing for me. I'd like to do it and I generally mean to do it, but I often forget or try, unsuccessfully, to throw something together t the last minute!

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      Cristina Vanthul 7 years ago from Florida

      I agree - salads can have a huge impact, visually, on the dinner table.