GARNISH Your Way Right Out of That Rut!

We probably all get in a meal-time rut once in awhile. My in-ruttedness led me to cruising the Internet looking for ways to add some interest to our dinner time meal. Same 'ol, same 'ol just wasn't cutting it anymore.

Of all the advice out there, one of the easiest pieces to follow is to "vary your presentation." In other words, serving my weekly casserole in a different dish or on a tablecloth instead of placemats might perk things up? And serving carrot curls rather than carrot sticks might entice folks to eat them? It's worth a try, I thought, so I went for it.

On a fun site called Recipe Tips (, I found some great ideas for serving up our tried and true garden veggies that are in such abundance right now. Yes, the idea does call for more time in the kitchen, but for a fun change once in awhile, why not? Take a look:

CUCUMBER BALLS: balls, rather than diced cubes or typical slices can add a pretty touch to any salad. Start by slicing a cucumber in half.

The seeds should remain in the cucumber for sufficient flesh. With a melon baller, make balls with the flesh of the cucumber.

CARROT CURLS: Instead of slicing your carrot, use a vegetable peeler to cut strips from your peeled carrot.

Before slicing, use a vegetable peeler to cut a strip of the peeled carrot. Then roll each strip and secure them with toothpicks. Place these in a cold glass of water and store in the refrigerator.

Wait 2 or 3 hours and remove them from the water. When toothpick is removed, the peel should remain curled, stretch the curl out and place on the plate as a colorful garnish.

TOMATO ROSE: For a stunning garnish, turn to tomato skin.

Begin at the top of your tomato and peel the skin away with a sharp utility knife. This garnish works best if the peel is 3/4- to 1-inch wide, in a continuous peel. You want the peel thin with very little flesh attached.

Next, lay the peel flat with flesh side up. Roll the peel up. Place the roll on a plate and allow it to open. You may need to work with it a little until it forms the shape that resembles an opening rose. For a finishing touch, add fresh mint or celery leaves. (See images)

And one last veggie-garnishing note: A couple weeks ago I talked about spiralizing with a Johnny Apple peeler. Why use this tool (or a spiralizer if you have one) and create veggie "roses" from your spiralized vegetables? Spiralized cucumber or zucchini skins, for instance, would make lovely "roses."

You can see how, with a little extra effort and time, you can garnish your way right out of the dinner time rut!


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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