Often, what makes the familiar exciting again is presentation. We love this circular plating trend, exemplified by these three salads and a main course.
You can use the technique for any course that goes onto a plate.
For the past couple of years, we’ve noticed the trend creeping up among creative restaurant chefs. It’s not just salad, but seafood, vegetable plates, meats and desserts.
You, too can think outside the middle of the plate. It just takes a few minutes more to arrange food around the periphery, as opposed to putting it in the center.
So what’s in the center of the plate?
It could be cheese, croutons, dressing, sauce, spices, whipped cream…or nothing.
Start today with your dinner salad!
DESIGNING A CIRCULAR SALAD
For salad, there’s always a choice of greens; but look to contrasting shades and textures. Don’t be afraid to add fresh herbs.
Add at least two color elements, red (beets, berries, cherry tomatoes, grapes, radishes) and yellow or orange (beets, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, egg quarters, mango).
Use an interesting vinaigrette, i.e., made with infused olive oil or vinegar.
Serve the salad with plain crostini or garlic bread (crostini with garlic butter).
If you want to serve a monotone salad, like Caesar salad, use a bright-colored plate.
Take the same approach with non-salad courses.
RECIPE #1: EAST MEETS WEST SALAD
This circle of flavor from Pakpao Thai in Dallas combines east (mint leaves and dressing) and west. It’s hard to see, but the white in the center is whipped mozzarella. We didn’t have time to practice froth it to perfection, so we used whipped ricotta.
Ingredients For The Salad
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
For The Mint Vinaigrette (6 Servings)
1 ball buffalo mozzarella*
1 cup of half-and-half or light cream*
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
For The Cheese
1 baguette, cut into 1/4″ slices
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Other seasonings as desired (garlic salt, dried herbs)
For The Crostini
*Substitute 1 pint ricotta for the mozzarella and cream.
1. MAKE the crostini. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange the baguette slices on two baking sheets; brush both sides with oil. Season with salt and pepper and other seasonings as desired. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through until both sides are golden brown. Let cool on baking sheets.
2. MAKE the vinaigrette. Combine the mint and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Let steep for 10 minutes; then strain into a large bowl, pressing on the leaves to extract all the liquid. You should have about 3 tablespoons of liquid after straining. Add the oil, vinegar, honey and salt; whisk until well combined. Refrigerate it for up to 3 days in a container with a lid, so you can shake it prior to dressing the salad.
3. PREPARE the salad ingredients: Wash and trim as desired. Arrange on individual plates. Place the whipped cheese in the center of the plate (we used ramekins).
4. DICE the mozzarella and place it in the bowl of a blender or food processor; or use a deep mixing bowl with an immersion blender. Blend into a froth and mix in the zest. Add the lemon zest at this stage.
5. SHAKE and drizzle the dressing over the salad. Serve with the crostini.
RECIPE #2: SPRING TO SUMMER SALAD
This recipe comes from one of our favorite creative chefs, Eric B. LeVine. Here, the classic salad made with frisée, blue or goat cheese, apples or pears, and walnuts or lardons is plated in a circle.
 Recipe #1: a fusion salad from Pakpao Thai in Dallas.  Recipe #2: a frisée, apple and blue cheese salad from Chef Eric B. Levine.  An avocado-mango salad from Chef Eric B. Levine, with frisée, onion, tomato, yellow split peas (chana dal) and lemon oil dressing.  Crostini from Martha Stewart).  Braised chicken and eggplant with garlic chips, from Chef Eric B. Levine.  You could put sorbet, fresh fruit, fruit sauce and bits of tuille in a bowl, or you could plate it like this dessert from The Art Of Plating.  Pumpkin custard topped with a wreath of meringues, two types of cake crumbles, whipped cream and droplets of pumpkin seed oil, by Chris Ford| The Art Of Plating” target=”_blank”