By January, fresh, local produce is a distant memory in most parts of the country. Even warmer growing regions are not supplying much variety to fill the salad bowl. But that isn’t stopping Corey Shoemaker from creating colorful, healthy tosses of winter greens and other vegetables. As chef at Mii amo Cafe, the spa restaurant at Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, that focuses on “intelligent cuisine,” he makes the most of whatever is available.
Although Mii amo is located in a cooler part of the state, the organic garden behind the restaurant is still yielding heartier crops like kale and Brussels sprouts in January. “I cover the plants when it gets too cold or snows, and they do well,” he says. Plus, the nearby Phoenix area is warmer and Shoemaker is able to source winter tomatoes, greens, citrus and other items. “The tomatoes are inspirational,” says the chef. “They’re slightly smaller but also a little sweeter because they stay on the vine longer.” And like many chefs this time of year, he’s digging into roots to pump up his vegetable menu. “I source heirloom beets from Seacat Farms in Phoenix, buying several different types—red, candy striped and gold. I’m also getting Swiss chard, celery root, radishes, sweet potatoes, avocados and chile peppers, using several small purveyors,” he notes.
For his Roasted Beet and Kale Salad, Shoemaker pulls the leaves from baby kale “when they’re young and tender” and tosses them raw with beets that have been gently roasted with a little grape seed oil. “I use grape seed because it’s neutral and treats the vegetables like ‘gold,’ adding no flavor of its own,” he explains.
Shoemaker also has a spa-like tip for roasting or sautéing vegetables: he fills a plastic spray bottle with oil and meters the squirt to a very minimal amount. This technique minimizes calories and allows the flavor of the vegetables to really come through.
Red and candy striped beets also show up pickled on the Mii amo menu in Shoemaker’s signature starter of Kumomoto Oysters on the Half Shell with pickled beets, ginger and cilantro mignonette. “The natural sweetness of the beets contrasts with the sourness of the pickling liquid to perfectly complement the oysters,” he says.
Also in season:
- Asian greens