Jo Marie Scaglia, owner and executive chef of The Mixx, serves up some very colorful (and tasty) dishes
Color plays a pivotal role in my world. It’s a very important component in creating successful dishes. Color creates a mood, stimulates the appetite and visu- ally nourishes the body. The combinations of different colors in a dish can make a big impact and “wow” the palate.
Some of my favorite dishes to create are salads. Most of the ingredients are fresh, natural and come to the table almost directly from the garden. They make a body feel good. In the Rustic Fingerling Potato Salad, crisp, vibrant flavors dominate. Bright red radicchio is a great accent color for this dish. Shades of green from the Brussels sprouts and kale are calming and earthy.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
The purple potatoes are sophisticated and lush. They’re a great contrast with the white of the shaved Parmesan and the vibrant yel- low of the lemon zest. The natural colors of this dish are luscious, while the simplicity of the dressing brings the bold colors and taste to life with zest and pizzazz.
Cooking can intensify the color of food. Searing salmon in a hot skillet makes the salmon not only more flavorful but creates additional texture and depth of color.
Something similar occurs when braising the red cabbage. It’s more complex when it’s caramelized with the tart vinegar and sweet brown sugar; the cabbage takes on an intense purple hue. With two simple ingredients—the salmon and the red cabbage—a powerful visual is created using two easy, basic cooking methods. A simple drizzle of basil oil adds another layer of taste and color complexity as well.
Orange color in food is a natural plant pigment that may promote cancer prevention, lower cholesterol and aid in eye health. My rich, orange-hued Curry Coconut Soup is packed with antioxidants. So not only is it beautiful, but it’s extremely healthy for you as well.
And we can’t forget dessert. An ice cream sundae is good for the soul. In your life and your diet, it’s okay to splurge from time to time. A clear glass parfait dish shows off the contrast of the deep caramel color of the sauce and the nuts with the milky white of the ice cream. Serve the sundae on a colorful plate to accent the simplicity of the neutral colors of the dish and “wow” your eye and your palate.
Diverse colors and flavors are essential ingredients in a successful meal. A mélange of vivid greens, oranges, reds and purples are pretty on the plate and nourish the body.
“I was born into the restaurant business,” Jo Marie says of her parent’s iconic Kansas City restaurant, Mario’s. By the age of 5 she was garnishing the plates and as a teenager she was serving as hostess and waiter.
After college at K.U., Jo Marie moved to San Francisco and immersed herself in that foodie culture. Resolving to bring some of that back home when she returned to Kansas City, she ran her own catering company for a couple of years before opening The Mixx. “It’s most influenced by the farmer’s markets in California,” she says.
And you can certainly see (and taste!) that in the fresh, healthy and colorful Mixx menu.
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
Fresh cracked pepper
3/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese
Lemon zest from 2 lemons
Toss the potatoes with sea salt, pepper and olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor and blend until emulsified. Toss potatoes, salad greens, Parmesan cheese and vinaigrette in a bowl. Garnish with the zest of two lemons. Serves 6-10 people.
Curry Coconut Carrot Soup
2 lbs. of peeled carrots, diced
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
8 cups of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of yellow curry powder
1/4 cup of brown sugar
16 ounces of coconut milk
1/4 cup of sour cream
Cilantro sprigs to garnish
Combine above ingredients and simmer on stovetop until carrots are cooked through. Remove from heat and blend ingredients in the pan using a stick blender
until pureed. Add the curry powder, brown sugar and coconut milk and mix well. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro sprig. Serves 6-8 people.
1 medium head of red cabbage (approximately 10 cups thinly sliced)
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup sliced sweet onion
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
6 individual salmon fillets
1/2 cup of olive oil
Quarter, core and thinly slice cabbage. In a large skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the cabbage, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté on medium low heat until cabbage is wilted and caramelized (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet and sear salmon fillets until crispy on the outside and medium-rare. Spoon cabbage on individual plates and place salmon fillets on top of braised cabbage. Drizzle with basil oil. Serves 6.
Combine sugar and water in a small sauce- pan and bring to a light boil, stirring often. Add butter and whisk until melted. Add cinnamon and whisk in cream.
Build the sundaes by putting one scoop of coffee ice cream and one scoop of vanilla ice cream in a parfait dish. Top with the cinnamon caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.