The presentation of a plate of food distinguishes amateur cooks from the professionals; it makes a dish seem more appealing to the eye. For example, a simple dish like casserole can look exponentially more appealing with a strategic garnish. An effective garnish should be edible, rather than a useless decoration. A garnish should be quick and easy to create. The garnish should also enhance the flavour of the food, be appropriate to the type of casserole and add contrasting colour to the plate.
Wipe down a large white plate to remove any fingerprints and make it shine. A white plate acts as a crisp blank canvas to surround the presentation of the casserole.
Cut a portion of casserole the size of an adult male fist and centre it on the plate. Brush away any crumbs or drips with a napkin.
Evaluate the contents of the casserole and select a garnish that complements the main ingredient. For example, cutting slices of lemon to arrange in half-moons around a piece of fish casserole would be appropriate. For a meat casserole, cutting half moons of hard-boiled eggs or zucchini would work better.
Evaluate the colour of the casserole and select a garnish that reasonably contrasts the main shade. For example, while slices of lemon complement the flavours of a golden fish casserole, slices of lime also contrast the colour.
Evaluate the herbs that you've already used in the casserole and add a fresh sprig of one or two of those herbs alongside the piece of casserole. For example, if you've made a meat and cheese casserole with chopped mint, a sprig or two of fresh mint is another effective garnish.
Finalise your garnish with a light sprinkling of cheese, seasoning or grated vegetables based on the contents of your dish. For example, a light grating of bright cheddar cheese will benefit a meat casserole, whereas a light grating of sun-dried tomato will enhance a noodle casserole.
Keep your garnishes simple. Unless you're a professional chef, you need not pressure yourself to create hand-carved swans and flowers out of carrots and radishes. Your garnishes should accentuate the casserole, not hide it. Keep everything proportional in size to the serving.