Miso-Harissa Roasted Carrot and Two-Potato Salad

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. But so far, the only lions around here are of the 10-pound, stripey variety. (And unless you’re a piece of string or small rodent, they’re not particularly fierce.)

Today felt like summer as we traipsed around San Anselmo in shorts and sandals. Our band has a show coming up, so we pushed through Spring Forward Fever (whose bright idea was it to have rehearsal in Marin at 11 am on the first day of Daylight Savings, anyway? Oh right, mine), and I got to play my new ukulele with some fine musicians while singing with my sister and niece.

I made this salad for our last rehearsal, and several times since. It’s another Heidi Swanson inspiration (who got the idea from Molly Watson) and has been a favorite around here lately. I have my cousin to thank for pointing out the original recipe, and I have the season to thank for being out of winter squash and providing super sweet baby carrots instead.

Slender carrots, fingerling coins, and chunks of sweet potato all get slathered with harissa oil and roasted until golden and soft. The roasted roots get tossed with crisp slices of blush-pink radishes, ribbons of kale, and toasted sliced almonds, and the whole mess is dressed in a nap of lemony miso vinaigrette.

Harissa is a Tunisian chili paste, and it makes a fantastic dressing when combined with miso, lemon juice and olive oil; spicy, sweet, tangy, and earthy. I used a golden millet miso for this dish, and love the bits of tiny, fermented grain scattered throughout the salad. Miso is full of probiotics, so I add it in the vinaigrette rather than roasting it, which would kill off these beneficial bacteria. (Plus, the chunks in the miso tend to blacken in the oven.)

This is one of those über-healthy dishes that manages to feel less like punishment and more like a satisfying bowl of deliciousness. Kale and radishes add color and crispness, and the almonds add crunch. Sometimes I sprinkle some goat cheese over the top, too. I like it best when freshly made, when the roots are still a bit warm, but it’s good chilled, too, bridging the gap between winter and spring.

It’s sure to keep the March lions at bay, no matter what the weather is like in your neck of the woods.

Salad days:

Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potato Salad
Green Goddess Potato Salad
Creamy Sesame Soba Noodles

One year ago:

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pie
Irish Soda Scones

Two years ago:

Potato, Leek and Celeriac Soup

Three years ago:

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Milk Tapioca Pudding

Roasted Carrot and Two-Potato Salad with Miso and Harissa

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

This salad makes great party fare, as it holds beautifully for a few hours at room temp, and it stores well in the fridge for up to a few days. Feel free to top this with a crumble of fresh goat cheese, if you, like me, like that sort of thing.

This recipe is all about the carrots, so use the sweetest ones you can find. Save your radish tops to cook into a scramble or to blend into a soup; they’re edible, and super-nutritious. My harissa wasn’t particularly spicy, but taste yours first to be safe.

Makes 6 hefty servings

The roasted roots:
2 bunches (1 1/4 pounds without greens) baby carrots, scrubbed
2 medium (1 1/4 pounds) sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon harissa
1/4 cup olive oil
a few pinches of salt

The dressing, etc:
1 tablespoon harissa
1/4 cup sweet white or yellow miso (such as golden millet miso)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small bunch kale
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 400º.

Trim the carrots and cut them into 2″ lengths (1″ for full-size carrots). Cut the sweet potatoes into 1″ chunks, and the fingerlings into 1/2″ thick coins. Toss everything with the harissa, olive oil and salt, spread on two sheet pans, and roast until golden and tender, about 45 minutes, flipping the vegetables after about 1/2 an hour to brown them on a couple of sides. They will let you know when they’re ready to be flipped, as they will release more easily from the pan with the help of a thin, metal spatula. Remove the roots from the oven and let them cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together the harissa, miso, lemon juice and olive oil to make the dressing. Slice the leaves off the kale stems, wash and dry the leaves well, and cut them into fine ribbons.

When the roots have cooled a bit, toss them in a really big bowl with half the dressing, and all of the kale and radishes. Taste, adding more dressing if you like, then scatter the almonds over the top and serve.

The salad will keep at room temperature for a few hours, or in the fridge for up to three days. Chilled salad will want extra dressing added for moisture and flavor.

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