Article Image

Adding Color & Texture

Picture a plain white plate with poached cod, mashed potatoes and mushy cauliflower. Neither the color nor the texture cries "eat me." Now, braise the cod in zesty Bertolli® Arrabbiata Sauce and nestle the fish next to creamy mashed potatoes. Accompany the entrée with crisp cauliflower sautéed in buttered parsley breadcrumbs and garnish it with a fresh sprig of parsley and now your plate really sings! That's because combining colors and textures creates a feast for the eyes.

Seasonal Looks

Vibrant food presentation is all about sophistication and showcasing the shapes and colors of the foods. Part of the approach to making dishes look more interesting stems from our desire for fresh, seasonal foods — just like it's done in Italy.
  • -
  • Garnish with an ingredient that's already in the dish. This enhances the flavor and gives your eye a cue to the taste. Visualize thin strips (called chiffonade) of fresh basil on Bruschetta Margherita or a branch of fresh rosemary atop Rosemary Marinated Grilled Chicken.

Get Sculpting!

Give thought to alternative shapes and positioning — particularly with the protein element, which tends to look like an unappetizing lump — to create a stunning visual.
  • -
  • The presentation of Chicken & Asparagus Parmesan — a breaded, boneless chicken breast topped with vivid green asparagus spears and a spiral slice of mozzarella stuffed with prosciutto — is more dramatic than a chicken cutlet on its own.
  • -
  • Remember the "Goldilocks Principle": The amount of food should be just right for the size of the plate. Leave enough room for an open border so your culinary masterpiece is nicely framed.

Opposites Attract

Varying textures can bring a lot to the visual presentation and feel on your palate.
  • -
  • A soft mound of potatoes in a pool of luscious wine sauce makes a stunning couple of two completely different textures.
  • -
  • Thin curls of Parmesan cheese, sliced with a vegetable peeler, add flavor to Bertolli® Tomato & Basil Sauce and leave a different feeling in your mouth by lending texture to the sauce. In this way, you're not only adding to the look, but adding to the taste experience as well.

Do Ahead to Get Ahead

  • -
  • Mince washed and dried fresh herbs (all except basil) with a sharp knife. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container for up to 3 days.
  • -
  • Gently wash and dry basil leaves (they bruise easily). Remove them from their stems and layer about 5 leaves on top of each other. Starting at the bottom of the pile, roll tightly into a tube. Holding the tube with one hand, cut cross-wise with a sharp knife to create thin slices. Unfurl the slices into a chiffonade. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container for up to 24 hours.
  • -
  • Grate Parmesan, Romano and other hard cheeses with a rasp-style grater or vegetable peeler for a bigger curl. Store in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container for up to 3 days.
  • -
  • Cut citrus fruits up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container. Slice oranges or lemons into thin wedges to spritz on seafood or grilled pork chops. Grate lemon peel with a rasp-style grater to add a burst of fresh citrus flavor to the finished dish. You can also cut lemon peel into thin strips with a citrus zester or small, sharp paring knife.

Express yourself. Plating and presentation should be as personal as the food you cook. Don't be afraid to get creative and experiment!