How to Garnish With Herbs

Garnishing your food with herbs makes the dish attractive.
Garnishing your food with herbs makes the dish attractive. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Herbs are plentiful, inexpensive to buy and if you choose to grow herbs yourself, they are easy. Additionally, the more you pick them, the more they tend to grow. While herbs add tremendous flavor to food, you can make even the simplest dish look so much more attractive, if you garnish with herbs. The vibrant green leaves sprinkled generously over a dish just before you serve not only make the meal look more appetizing, but also can add extra flavor. However, you do need to select the right herb for your dish as getting it wrong can ruin the flavor of the dish.

Things You'll Need

  • Basil
  • Knife
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

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Basil

Get two or three stalks of basil. Strip off the leaves from the stalk using your hands and discards the stalks as you don’t need them for the garnish.

Tear each basil leaf into roughly five or six pieces, using your hands. Tearing basil leaves lets the wonderful smell and flavor out from the leaves; this doesn’t happen so much if you chop the leaves.

Sprinkle the leaves over dishes that contain tomatoes. For example, most Italian pasta dishes use a tomato-based sauce. Alternatively, slice a few red ripe tomatoes and arrange them in a serving dish. Drizzle a little oil and balsamic vinegar dressing over the tomatoes and then put the torn basil leaves over the top. Basil and tomatoes complement each other perfectly.

Parsley

Chop about 2 tbsp. of flat-leaf parsley -- finely -- using a knife. You can use curly parsley, but the fragrance isn’t so strong and neither is the flavor.

Add half the parsley to your recipe while cooking and keep back the other half. Parsley works well with practically any savory dish and certainly will never ruin the recipe.

Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the dish, just as you are about to serve it. Examples for using parsley as a garnish are pasta dishes, risottos, salads, such as home made potato salad and most fish dishes.

Rosemary

Use a few fragrant rosemary sprigs as the perfect garnish for roast lamb, or most lamb dishes. Put a couple of stalks in with the meat while it’s roasting to add flavor to the meat.

Discard the rosemary that you used to flavor the dish when you are ready to serve it. The color of the rosemary will have changed to brown during cooking and doesn’t look particularly good.

Place a few sprigs of fresh rosemary over the dish as you are about to serve. The rosemary garnishes the dish well and the whole sprigs make the dish inviting and attractive.

Thyme

Use thyme as an ingredient in many dishes you cook such as lamb, beef, stews, or fish then use more thyme to garnish the dish.

Get a handful of thyme sprigs and then strip off the tiny leaves from the stalks. Hold the top of the sprig of thyme using one hand then using your finger and thumb on the other hand slide them down toward the base of the thyme stalk. As you move down the leaves will come off the stalk. Discard the bare stalks.

Sprinkle the thyme leave over any dishes where you have used thyme in the recipe. You can also use a couple of whole stalks for extra decoration and garnish.

Tips & Warnings

  • There is a multitude of herbs available, some you may not have heard about, or use infrequently. Experiment using different herbs as a garnish to see what effect they have to your dishes.

References

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