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Food Art: How to Make Salad Decorations in a Cup

Om is an inquisitive foodie who likes to share recipes that everyone can enjoy.

Salad decoration in an ice cream cup.

Salad decoration in an ice cream cup.

Salad decoration might sound like unnecessary labor to some people. But, believe it or not, how we see the food can affect how it tastes. For example, some people won't normally eat shrimp, rice and avocado together in one meal. Yet, when they see the three ingredients artistically mingled in the form of tempura sushi and daintily arranged on a rectangular porcelain plate, their appetite suddenly rises to its peak.

It is the same story with salad. There's nothing very enticing about a messy pile of baby spinach, chopped lettuce and cherry tomatoes, except its abundant vitamins. However, if you transform those vegetables into lush ground cover, leaves and flowers, your plate of salad will become more than just a source of nutrients.

Appearance Can Elevate a Dish

The rule of first impressions is not only for humans; it also applies to food. Beauty can turn a mediocre dish into something worth remembering. Unless it is a hopelessly bad dish, the good first impression will likely overrule the simplicity of the food.

Vegetable decoration is a great scheme to use when you want to impress your guests but don't have enough time or cooking skills to prepare something extraordinary. If your children won't eat anything but sugary cereal and greasy burgers, don't just keep nagging them to eat more greens and turnips. Instead, wow them with your nifty salad decorations, and they might find vegetables more appetizing to eat.

Learn How to Do It

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to turn simple vegetables into food art. Advanced artistry is not required. Basic knife skills and creativity are all you need.

Ingredients and Supplies


  • a handful of baby spinach or another leafy vegetable
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 mini sweet peppers
  • 1/2 of a medium-size cucumber


  • container (any clear ice-cream cup or wide-mouthed cocktail glass that is not too deep)
  • sharp paring knife
  • leaf-shaped cookie cutter
  • vegetable peeler
Carving peppers.

Carving peppers.

How to Carve Peppers

  1. Remove the stem from a mini pepper.
  2. Insert the tip of your paring knife near the base of the pepper and drag it all the way to the tip.
  3. Turn the pepper slightly and do the same thing. Keep turning and cutting about 6 more times to make 6 thin "petals" for your pepper flower.
  4. Make two more pepper flowers using the same instructions.
  5. Put all the carved peppers into a bowl of cool water. Allow them to soak in there for about half an hour. This process will bring your pepper flowers into their "blooming" state.
Carving cucumbers into leaves.

Carving cucumbers into leaves.

How to Carve Cucumbers

  1. Peel a cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. You will need only one half, so keep the other one in a refrigerator for other dishes.
  2. Press a leaf-shaped cookie cutter on one end of the cucumber.
  3. Once you get a leaf-shaped cucumber out of the cutter, use a paring knife to make a few little notches around the edges.
  4. Repeat the instructions to make one more leaf.
You can carve tomatoes into flower buds.

You can carve tomatoes into flower buds.

How to Carve Tomatoes

  1. Insert the tip of your knife into the middle of a tomato and make a small diagonal cut of about 1/8 inch long. Be careful not to pierce it all the way through the other side.
  2. Make another diagonal cut next to the first one but in the opposite angle. Keep doing this zigzag pattern all the way around the tomato. This will divide it into two halves.
  3. Gently pull the top and bottom of the tomato apart from each other with your hands. You will get two lovely "flower buds."
  4. Repeat the instructions on the other tomato.
The completed salad.

The completed salad.

How to Assemble Your Salad

  1. Cover the bottom of your ice cream cup or cocktail glass with baby spinach.
  2. Arrange the mini peppers, cucumber slices and tomato halves in a way that resembles a little floral centerpiece. There is no strict rule. Just follow your whim and creativity.
  3. Top with your choice of salad dressing and enjoy!

Plus Points

  • This salad decoration idea is perfect for a cocktail party where the guests tend to enjoy wandering around, drinking, socializing and tasting small portions of food every now and then. Don't you agree it is much more convenient to walk around with a cup in your hands instead of a plate?
  • With this beautiful salad decoration, you won't really need to spruce up your buffet table with flowers or anything else. These cute cups of carved vegetables will do double duty.
  • Many children will love this. The idea of eating a plate of green leaves usually makes them crinkle their nose. A cup of edible art, however, could strike their curiosity quite a bit.
  • For those of you who want to have a valentine's dinner at home, this salad decoration can add a romantic touch to your meal. Make two cups of this colorful salad, then pair them with a simple but elegant main course, such as filet mignon or roast duck. Decorate your dining table with a few candles. And that's it. Enjoy your romantic dinner!

Want More Ideas?

Still want more fun and challenges? Here are some really intriguing salad decoration ideas I have found on YouTube.


Om Paramapoonya (author) on March 04, 2014:

Thanks, AnnaCia!

AnnaCia on February 27, 2014:

WOW! Great job. Interesting Hub; the photos and videos are great. Yhank you for sharing..

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 26, 2012:

Thank you! :)

batool on April 26, 2012:

oh!! thanx a lot for such a gr8 garnishing ideas

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 13, 2012:

@snappycanvas - Thanks a lot for stopping by. Glad you like these salad decoration ideas. :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on August 17, 2011:

Thanks! :)

anglowriter on August 16, 2011:

It's amazing how you can transform food into art!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on August 16, 2011:

You're welcome, happypuppy. :)

happypuppy on August 15, 2011:

Wow...this is very pretty and the videos are very useful. Thanks for sharing! I would need to practice making them :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 15, 2011:

Thanks. Kristy. :)

kristymckeown from Havelock, Ontario on July 15, 2011:

Great work! I'll have to start practicing! And eating, yum.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 12, 2011:

Thanks. Hope you try this sometime (and eat it!). =D

Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on July 10, 2011:

This was a fantastic read. I just love the pictures. After taking so much time and care to complete one of these masterpieces I do not know if I would have the heart to eat it. I could see that completed salad bowl as a decoration in my kitchen!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 09, 2011:

@LittlePayday - Yeah, maybe this will convert you into a veggie eater! hehehe.... Thanks for dropping by :)

@greatlove - Yay! Good luck. :)

greatlove from Beaufort, NC on July 08, 2011:

Very beautiful! I'm going to give it a shoot!!! Wish me luck...lol

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 08, 2011:

TheListLady - You're welcome. And thanks for the read and sweet comment. :)

@vitex - Why don't you give it a try just for fun? If the veggies don't come out so pretty, you can still eat them. :)

vitex from China on July 07, 2011:

it seems very delicious,but i can't carve.you are great?

TheListLady from New York City on July 06, 2011:

Oh fabulous! I have a dear friend coming for early dinner tomorrow and presenting beautiful nutritious food to each other is what we do. You have inspired me for vegetable ideas.

Thanks a million! Well deserved hub of the day and rated up of course!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

@MyMastiffPuppies - You're fortunate indeed. When I was a kid, I didn't really like to eat veggies or fruits at all. I wouldn't even eat something sweet like apples. Then one day, my mom cut an apple into little heart-shape slices and that was the first time I agreed to try it! :)

@anglnwu - Thanks! And hey, you didn't return my "poke" on Facebook. :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

@marellen - Thanks so much for the read and the vote. :)

@sriparna - Yep, food art can change the way we think about food. If we just look at food as something to keep us alive, then it doesn't matter what it looks like. But with food art, eating can become a much more enjoyable activity. :)

@Stephanie Henkel - Awesome! Hope your guests will like it too. :)

@fucsia - Thanks! :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

@Ashlea B - Very true. The Japanese really love to do artsy stuff with their food. Lots of Japanese chefs are not only cooks but also artists. :)

@Peggy W - Oh yes, I hope they will! Thanks, Peggy. So glad you stopped by. :)

@Ladda - Kon khun kha, Ladda. This is part of what I learned from my grandma when she prepared fresh veggies to serve with nam prik. hehe :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

@Alienwednesday - Thanks a lot. Glad you enjoyed this. :)

@RTalloni - Yep, food art is really cool and fun to make. Thanks for dropping by. :)

@Movie Master - If you're already familiar with carving tomatoes and radishes, this shouldn't be too challenging for you at all! :)

@Cardelean - Thanks. Hope you have an awesome party. :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

@Appshub - Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

@Just Ask Susan - Ah next time your radish rosettes can have some little cucumber leaves to complement them. That should be very lovely. :)

@c-bless - You're very welcome. Bon Appetit to you too! :)

@Denise Handlon - Thanks a lot! :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

@Liola Lee - Thanks! :)

@Thelma Alberts - Cool. I'm glad you'll give this a try. :)

@outsourced - You're very welcome. Thanks for stopping by. :)

@Bethenrose - hehe Too pretty to eat? Is that really possible? Thanks for the read and sweet comment. :)

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 06, 2011:

WOW!!!! Thank you SOOOOOOO much everyone. And thank you, HP, for choosing this as the hub of the day. :-))))))))) See how huge my smile is?

@Anamika - hehehe Yeah, I understand what you mean. But you know if you can't eat your own laborious invention, you could have other people eat it instead! I'm sure they'd be happy to do so. :)

@jansplace - Thanks! You're super sweet. :)

@carriethomson - Hey, don't worry about the end result too much. Just have fun with it. If it doesn't turn out as pretty as you'd like it to be, at least it'll still be edible. You won't have to waste any food. :)

anglnwu on July 06, 2011:

How did I miss this tantalizing hub? Love the presentation and congrats on the hub of the day:))

MyMastiffPuppies on July 06, 2011:

Congrats on a well deserved win! We love fresh veggies and this just adds some fun and color to a great meal. I am very fortunate that both my sons eat their veggies. My youngest (he is 8yrs old), only eats "Fresh Veggies", no cooking, seasoning or sauce! He will love this idea though,especially if he gets to help. Voted up, useful, awesome and beautiful...

fucsia on July 06, 2011:

Very interesting Hub about food art! I really like your idea and I can not wait to try it.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 06, 2011:

Your salads are works of art! My mom was a great believer in beautiful presentation of food; she would have loved the cucumber leaves and carved peppers! In fact, I'm having company for dinner tomorrow, and you've inspired me to try some special garnishes. Voted up and useful!

Sriparna from New Delhi on July 06, 2011:

Inspiring hub about food art! Indeed the looks affect appetite, that is why chefs spend so much time and effort on garnishing food. Really useful and easy-to-follow instructions. Congrats for being selected as the hub of the day!!

marellen on July 06, 2011:

Om...very informative hub.Love the idea especially for a dinner party. voted up....

Ladda Boonmee from Vancouver on July 06, 2011:

It is very useful and so beautiful. Kob Khun Ka! Vote useful and beautiful ^_^

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 06, 2011:

Congrats on becoming the featured hub of the day. People all across the world will now probably be serving up beautifully decorated dishes! :))

Ashlea B on July 06, 2011:

Very nice. My brother lives in Japan (has most of his adult life), and the Japanese are very aware of food presentation, making it look beautiful. During my brother's visits home he has made lovely fruit tray displays. He's not really someone to typically get into artsy things, particularly regarding food... but after living in Japan he has a greater appreciation for it, perhaps even becoming more of his "norm." It's neat.

cardelean from Michigan on July 06, 2011:

Great instructions. I am bookmarking this one for my next party! Nice job.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on July 06, 2011:

I have done the tomato carving and managed a twirl out of a radish, but this is taking it to a whole new level and I'm looking forward to trying it out, great hub thank you.

RTalloni on July 06, 2011:

Love food when I can do something artsy with it! Neat hub, fun videos. Voted up.

AlienWednesday on July 06, 2011:

Very nice, I like that. Making food look prettier to eat. Great hub, congrats on being hub of the day.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on July 06, 2011:

Great Job on a most 'appetizing' subject. Congrats on the featured hub of the day-it deserves it.

c-bless on July 06, 2011:

Bon appetit! Very appetizing article (pun intended). Thank you for the food demo.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on July 06, 2011:

I have always made rosettes with radishes but never have thought about making leafs from cucumbers. Love all your food art decorations here. Fantastic hub!

AppsHub from London on July 06, 2011:

Great hub!! Great Hub!!!

BethanRose from South Wales on July 06, 2011:

This is great, it makes a difference when you eat food that looks this great. So professional, I wouldn't want to eat it it's so pretty! Hehe. Good job! Voted up :)

outsourced from Omaha on July 06, 2011:

Lovely....thanks for the instructions.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 06, 2011:

This is a great hub! I would like to try this out in our reunion party. Voted Up and is bookmarked. Thanks for sharing.

Liola Lee on July 06, 2011:

Pretty impressive!!

carriethomson from United Kingdom on July 06, 2011:

oh this is great I am surely going to try this out... hope it looks good, the way u have explained here it seems easy... thanx voted up:-)

jansplace on July 06, 2011:

I'm amazed. This is a mouth watering salad and I've never seen one as tempting before. You certainly have the artistic skills for creating such gorgeous food.

You have explained everything in debth and in an entertaining way. Have you not thought of publishing your own book on this I'm sure it would be a best seller - I'm not into cooking but my sister is and she would love to try this kind of thing out.

This certainly deserves hub of the day - well done.

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on July 06, 2011:

I absolutely love doing vegetable carvings, but the problem is that once i make something I will not have the heart to eat it.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 14, 2011:

Oh I like that title "vegetable artist"! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a sweet comment, KoffeKlatch. :)

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on April 13, 2011:

Om, you are a vegetable artist. Your display is beautiful. I have to try it next time I have a small dinner party. I love it. Rated up and useful.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 11, 2011:

haha you're right. It takes quite a bit of patience to do this. Thanks for the read! :)

SJKSJK from delray beach, florida on April 10, 2011:

Beautiful pictures. Theses look great but I don't know if I have the patience to do it.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 09, 2011:

Thanks, Dolores. :)

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on April 09, 2011:

Such a pretty way to present a salad. This would be great for parties when you want your food to look special. And I love the idea of the salad in cups - so convenient for a party!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 08, 2011:

Thanks for the read and support, everyone! =D

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 07, 2011:

I love food art, and found this hub to be wonderful. Thank you!

Haydee Anderson from Hermosa Beach on April 07, 2011:

this is not only fun to eat but also fun to make.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 07, 2011:

This Hub is a beautiful presentation of something so useful and creative. I love salads and like trying different approaches. This one is stellar! I'm also thinking that kids who might snub their noses at salads might be turned around by carved vegetable shapes tucked into a small dish. :)

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on April 06, 2011:

I love this kind of stuff...too bad I'm all thumbs with a knife usually but I'm going to give some of those simpler ones a try! I love presentation!!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 06, 2011:

@mslizzee - You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed this. :)

@Peggy - Yeah, I have seen people make roses out of radishes. Very cute. But I've never done that myself because I don't like eating radishes that much hehe..Thanks so much for dropping by. :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2011:

What a great hub! My grandmother always made roses out of radishes and also cut celery into slivers and put them in water so that they fanned out. Loved the videos also. Will try some of this for our next dinner party. Up and useful votes.

elizabeth from Buncombe County, NC on April 06, 2011:

How fun, thank you.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on April 05, 2011:

Thanks a lot for the read and sweet comment, Kulsum. :)

Dr Kulsum Mehmood from Nagpur, India on April 05, 2011:

Very appetising salad decoration Om. Nice illustrations too.

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