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Photo: Joseph De Leo
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Saladish Cookbook by Ilene Rosen
Photo: Joseph De Leo

When it comes to avoiding the sad desk salad cliche, master salad crafter and author of the new book, Saladish, Ilene Rosen has a few tricks up her sleeve. “Balance soft leaves with crunchy bits, salty against rich, and include a hint of sweetness and spice,” Rosen says of her approach to crafting the rich flavor profiles of her entrees. It keeps things a bit more interesting than the tried-and-true formula of greens-protein-dressing-repeat.

On the rare occasion that even she encounters salad fatigue—hey, it happens—she breaks out of her rut by taking inspiration from other cultures’ cuisine. “My best inspiration comes from wandering through the green market or taking a trip to an ethnic grocery,” she says. “Fill your bag with what ever catches your eye and captures your imagination.”

Rosen combines both of her approaches in her recipe for yellow beets and harissa onions, excerpted from Saladish. The harissa gives the dish a Tunisian flair, while other spices accentuate the vegetables’ natural flavors. A finishing touch of lemon and dill makes the recipe suitable on it’s own as a plant-based appetizer, or as a salad add-in—it’s your choice, really.

In the words of Rosen, “Be fearless and experiment—make a new salad or something saladish!”

Keep reading for Rosen’s recipe.

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Yellow Beets and Harissa Onions

Serves 4

Ingredients
1/4 cup flavorless vegetable oil
1 tsp harissa, plus more if desired
1 pound cipollini onions
1 pound small yellow beets, ends trimmed
2 bay leaves
A few fresh thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove
4 large radicchio leaves, cut crosswise into 1-inch ribbons
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup small fresh dill sprigs

1. Pour the oil into a bowl large enough to hold the onions. Whisk in the harissa, taste, and add more if desired. Slice off the root and stem ends of the cipollini and remove any skin that comes off easily. Add the onions to the spiced oil, toss well, and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Meanwhile, put the beets, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and garlic in a large saucepan. Add water to cover by several inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle boil and cook until the beets are tender enough to be pierced through with a fork, about 25 minutes. Check early and often to avoid overcooking. Drain them in a colander, and when they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut them in half (or into quarters if they are large), so they are about the same size as the onions. Discard the herbs and garlic.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

4. Arrange the onions on a sheet pan, spaced well apart, and roast for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are browned and tender and the remaining skin falls off. Transfer the onions to a cutting board. Reserve the spiced oil remaining on the pan, and any bits of onion sticking to it.

5. Cut the onions in half and place in a serving bowl. Add the beets and most of the radicchio ribbons, reserving a few for garnish. Scrape the spiced oil and onion bits from the sheet pan onto the vegetables and toss well. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Shower with the dill and the reserved radicchio and serve.

Excerpted from Saladish by Ilene Rosen (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Joseph De Leo.

If you want some new lunch ideas but are pressed for time, check out this list of 10-minute recipes. Plus, how to avoid post-salad bloat

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