Dress up everyday dishes with quick vegetable garnishes that can be made last minute before food service. You can use vegetable leftovers from food preparation instead of buying vegetables or fruit specially for preparing garnishes. Use a sharp paring knife so garnishes look neat and vegetables are easy to cut and chop. Prepare more than a few flower garnishes and cluster them together in the corner of food platters to form an easy vegetable bouquet.
Roses from lemon rinds can be made in advance, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until use. Place the flower on top of gravies and curries, or on the side or corner of an entree platter. Use a sharp knife to peel from the top of the lemon in a continuous strip. Peel thinly to avoid getting the white pith in the flower. The cuts will be jagged and add to the shape of the rose. Roll and coil the lemon strip in a tight circle and turn it upside down. Place it on the serving platter as desired.
Carrot flowers can be paired with lemon and tomato flowers to make a colorful vegetable bouquet. Peel a carrot and place it on a cutting board with the largest cut end facing upwards. Cut two-thirds of the carrot diagonally to form four sections. Use a sharp paring knife to cut round petals and remove the centers to make flowers. Cut the base of the flowers slightly to angle them on a platter. Immerse the carrots in boiling hot water followed by plunging in ice cold water. Drain and dry carrot flowers before using.
Green Pepper Palm Trees
Palm trees made from green bell peppers, potatoes and carrots form appropriate decorations for Hawaiian-themed parties and luaus. Make the base of the trees by slicing potatoes in half and placing the cut side down. Peel carrots and place them top-side down on the potato bases. Insert a toothpick through the potato to affix the carrot trunk to the base. Cut the top of the bell pepper and make five to six V-shaped cuts to form the palm tree leaves. Affix the pepper leaves to the carrot trunk using a toothpick to hold it in place.
Tomato roses are easy to make last-minute, and make attractive garnishes for platters and soups. Use a sharp knife to peel the tomato starting from the top. Peel continuously, forming a 1/2-inch-wide ribbon. Coil the tomato peel, keeping the flesh side inward. Coil tightly so it resembles a flower. Place on top of lettuce or basil leaves or use as part of a vegetable flower bouquet to garnish entrees.
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