Sometimes you want a meal that looks restaurant-worthy, and other nights you want a dish that’ll be ready in the blink of an eye — but, why sacrifice one for the other when you can have both?
Whether you want to dress up your loved one’s weeknight meal, or you offer to host a group of friends for a last-minute celebration, we’ve got some healthy gourmet recipes that are ready in less than 10 minutes and involve minimal effort on your part. Following our guide below, you’ll give simple, staple ingredients a whole new identity by elevating their flavor with spices and plating perfectly, leaving you with meals that are just as good to look at as they are to eat.
Before food enters our mouths, we eat with our eyes. Sure, we could just pile everything into a bowl and call it a day, but there’s an extra pleasure in looking down on a pretty plate. Focusing on food styling forces you to slow down, eat more mindfully, and appreciate the dish you’re about to eat, thus making every mouthful more enjoyable.
Use a white backdrop (i.e., a white plate or bowl) to create a canvas for the food and make the colors stand out
Decorate with purpose by using sauces and garnishes that complement both look and taste
Follow your instincts and play around instead of calculating each placement
Use that silverware you keep stored away for special occasions
Layer and stack your ingredients high; dimension will make your plate look more interesting
Buy fresh, whole foods
Nothing beats fresh food. Be it a simple salad or sandwich, using farm-fresh, whole foods to cook makes a world of difference by giving your dish extra color, a boost of flavor, and usually a broad scope of nutrients too. Buy your veggies at the farmer’s market where you’ll be exposed seasonal produce, i.e., the fresher and cheaper kind of produce.
Spice it up
Jazzing up your meals with a sophisticated spice combination will add depth of flavor and take it to the next level. Keep in mind: spices don’t just make a meal tastier, they give it personality — an identity if you will. For example, a chicken dish seasoned with Italian basil and oregano is an entirely different chicken dish than the one seasoned with a Mexican adobo spice blend. Seasonings will make your dish pop while proving you with a broader variety of calorie-free antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Use all the herbs
Though it can be intimidating to cook with herbs, it’s always that fresh mint or basil garnish that catches our eye on the plate. Herbs are the symbol of freshness with their bright green color quickly upgrading any dish’s appeal. Think: what would pesto be without basil or salsa without cilantro? If you’re going for a more subtle aroma, a hint of herbs is enough, but other times, don’t be afraid to add handfuls.
Sear your meats
If you want to give your dish that wow-factor, consider searing your meats. A perfectly browned steak has that perfect caramelization and makes you feel like you’re in a restaurant. You can get a sear on all types and cuts of meat – just season with the spice of your choice and watch it happen.
4 Easy fancy dinner recipes
The time has come to make easy gourmet meals at home. We handpicked four healthy recipes from the 8fit app — two simple salads and two quick sandwiches — that’ll look so pretty, you’ll forget how simple they are.
Orange, walnut, and cottage cheese salad
This salad is an all-around winner, especially during the warmer months of the year. The cottage cheese and walnuts keep you satisfied, while the orange and mint garnish give the dish that taste of freshness. This salad is a perfect example of how herbs and greens can make a meal come alive. Oh, and did we mention it takes just seven minutes to prepare this easy, elegant dinner?
Prosciutto, persimmon & arugula salad
Sure, this might be another salad recipe, but it’s not just any old salad. Make this dish next time you’re looking to impress a crowd. It’s the perfect balance of goat cheese, prosciutto, and walnuts, topped with juicy persimmon for that touch of sweetness. Show whoever you’re cooking for that you care about their taste buds and health too.
Zucchini grilled cheese sandwich
Grilled or seared meat isn’t the only thing that’ll give your recipe the edge. Try griddling bread or using a panini press to give your sandwiches that perfectly golden exterior. This one is oozing with a two-cheese, zucchini filling. It’s the perfect dish for a casual get together with friends, where you can just keep making one after the other.
Salmon salad sandwich
Feast your eyes on an open-faced sandwich packed with flavor. Salmon and veg are marinated in a caper and mustard-spiked yogurt then spread onto a crusty brown bread. Doll it up by adding some of the ingredients — or some fresh herbs –as a garnish at the end.
For more recipes like these, sign up for 8fit and set your meal plan to “gourmet.” You’ll be surprised how easy some of these gorgeous recipes are to make.