Salads are in season, but new ideas for great ones can be hard to find. Michalene Busico, deputy features editor, tipped us off about this terrific roasted beet, citrus and fennel salad with “pure and bright” flavors served at the Hungry Cat in Hollywood. It’s a contemporary, casual take on a composed salad (but, cautions chef David Lentz, it shouldn’t look composed). Beets, fennel and an herb salad are tossed separately in a citrus vinaigrette, then layered on plates with ricotta salata, a dense, salty Sicilian cheese.
Roasted beet salad with citrus, fennel and ricotta salata
In a bowl, combine the shallots, orange and lime juices and salt and allow to macerate for about 15 minutes.
Whisk in the olive oil, then add the fennel seeds and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside. (Makes about two-thirds cup.)
Combine the parsley, chive, chervil and dill, place a slightly dampened paper towel on top and set aside.
Beet salad and assembly
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and trim the beets. Place the beets of each color in a separate foil packet and roast until the beets are very tender, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Peel and cut into wedges, keeping the different colors separate.
Toss the sliced fennel and onion with the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on four plates.
Toss the beets of each color in separate bowls with a few tablespoons of the citrus vinaigrette. (This will prevent the colors from bleeding onto each other.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the beet wedges (pointing up) on the fennel and onion.
Place an assortment of citrus segments around the beets, also pointing up (cut the pomelo segments in half or thirds so that all of the segments are roughly the same size).Thinly slice the cheese into triangles and lay 3 slices on top of each salad.
Toss the herb salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons of citrus vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Scatter the dressed herbs on top of the vegetables. Drizzle a little of the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over each salad and serve.