56 ;e Costco Connection MARCH 2016
By Liz Pearson
THE TIME WE have to throw together a
home-cooked meal is o;en just minutes, which
can make it heartbreaking to prepare a recipe
full of color, ;avor and texture, and then hurriedly heap it into a bowl. Taking a few extra
minutes to plate food in a purposeful way
makes meals feel rewarding, even luxurious.
“I ;rmly believe that every dish should get
a little love, a little something special, before
it hits the table,” says Costco member Caroline
Campion, creator of
devilandegg.com and co-
author of Keepers (Rodale, 2013; not avail-
able at Costco). “It makes a di;erence that
your friends and family can feel and taste.”
Luckily for home cooks, the path to entic-
ing, restaurant-quality presentation is easy
and accessible. It’s also worth taking the time
to execute, whether you’ve spent hours over
the hot stove, or are simply moving a rotis-
serie chicken and pasta salad from their con-
tainers to the plate. Here are some tips.
Choose white dinnerware. Every
detail shows up clearly on white, which allows
Quick tips for making each meal more artful
colorful food, not to mention your hard work,
to shine. No patterns on plates and bowls
means nothing visually competes with the food.
Create balance. “;e assembly of
ingredients is what really begins to whet your
appetite,” adds Campion. Balance heavier items
like a single, large portion of meat or ;sh with
the lively color and texture of a green salad, or
top a creamy soup with a handful of crunchy
croutons. With a balance of size, color and texture, Campion says, “you know you’ll be happy
eating it before you’ve taken the ;rst bite.”
Maintain the color. When cooking
produce, ensure that its color remains vibrant.
Blanch vegetables in boiling, salted water and
cool them o; quickly in cold, running water.
When veggies are part of a one-pot dish like
soup, add each at the appropriate time to avoid
the dull colors that plague overcooking.
Surprise them. Give each dish a pop
of color, or an unexpected texture. ;ink
bright tomatoes stirred into a brothy soup, or
crunchy, toasted nuts scattered over a salad.
Favor the odds. An odd number in
an arrangement is more pleasing to the eye.
(Just ask any ;orist.) It looks more natural on
the plate, too. Opt for three or ;ve scallops per
serving, or one large piece of toast to garnish
a soup or stew, instead of two smaller ones.
Think tall. Leave towering terrines to the
chefs, but steal their good idea: Bring more
height to your food. Instead of making a wide
mound on the plate, build a salad more vertically. Or skip serving a chunky sauce on the side
and spoon it on top of your entrée instead.
Clean as you go. Campion swears by
this adage, and not just for keeping the kitchen
clean. “Quickly wiping down drips and
smudges on the edge of the plate means you’re
delivering something that looks done,” she
points out. While working over the dish, clean
up splatters along the outer edge of serving
plates or bowls, tidy any runaway ingredients
like pieces of pasta or rice, and tuck in rogue
stems or leaves in your greens.
Garnish smartly. Skip the raw sprig
The art of plating
Pasta Primavera Soup
with Parmesan Toast