The arrival of cool, crisp autumn days does not mean the end of salads. That's not to say you have to be satisfied with tired iceberg lettuce, cardboard tomatoes and pithy radishes when preparing fall and winter salads. Better to look abroad, and use a variety of seasonal vegetables: Italian radicchio, French leeks, Chinese shiitake mushrooms, fresh fennel and Jerusalem artichokes.

Many local supermarkets now carry such produce as Jerusalem artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, fennel and radicchio in season. Other sources include speciality food shops, Oriental grocery stores for snow peas and shiitake mushrooms, and Italian markets for fennel and radicchio.

With these ingredients, you can make a multitude of salads, including Leek and Avocado Vinaigrette, Fennel Salad with Gorgonzola and Radicchio, Million Dollar Medley, Three Mushroom Salad with Orange, and Beets with Jerusalem Artichokes.

To ease the last-minute party rush, prepare many of the individual salad ingredients and dressings one day ahead. Blanch or steam vegetables, such as snow peas or green beans for a short time, one to three minutes, until the bright green color appears, and they are tender crisp. To stop cooking and retain the beautiful emerald green, plunge the drained vegetables into a large pan filled with ice water or cold water in the sink. Run cold water continuously over the vegetables, until they are completely cool. Drain in a colander.

To dry the vegetables, and retain color and crispness overnight, place clean tea towels on the kitchen counter or in a two-gallon foil pan. Lay a single layer of cooked vegetables on top of one towel, being careful to avoid overlapping the vegetables. Continue to layer towels and vegetables. Let stand for 15 to 25 minutes until no moisture remains on the outside of the vegetables.

Store the vegetables overnight, in loosely packed plastic bags or foil pans, layered with lots of paper towels.

In general, the larger pieces of food in salads without lettuce seem to dilute dressings considerably, so do not be surprised with the hearty quantity of herbs, mustard, pepper and salt in the dressings. If you wish to use any of the dressings with lettuce salads, reduce seasonings somewhat. Any dressing should lightly coat the food with no excess dressing in the bottom of the bowl or platter.

Explore new vegetables in the market place this winter and discover sensational salads for any occasion. LEEK AND AVOCADO VINAIGRETTE (4 servings)

FOR THE DILL VERMOUTH VINAIGRETTE:

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dry white vermouth

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

2 shallots, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SALAD:

16 medium white mushrooms

2 large leeks

2 ripe avocados

1 roasted red bell pepper, julienned 1/8- by 2-inch long

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

For the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, wine vinegar, vermouth, sugar and salt together. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the dill and shallots and season with pepper.

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and slice cap crosswise into circles. Reserve stems for another use. Slit the leeks lengthwise half way through and rinse under running water to remove sand. Blanch 4 to 5 minutes until tender. Drain, cool under cold water, and dry well. Julienne the white part of the leek 1/8- by 2-inch long.

Skin avocados, cut lengthwise, and remove pit. Cut into 1/2-inch diagonal wedges.

Place the leeks and roasted pepper on a small plate and drizzle with 2 tablespoons dressing. Add the minced parsley to the remaining dressing and toss separately with avocado and mushrooms.

To assemble, place the mushrooms in the center of the plate or platter, and arrange the avocado slices around the outer edge. Alternate the leek and roasted pepper around the top of the mushrooms. Serve at room temperature with freshly ground black pepper. FENNEL SALAD WITH GORGONZOLA AND RADICCHIO (4 servings)

1 small head fresh fennel

2 ounces gorgonzola, or montrachet cheese

1/2 small red onion

1 small head radicchio or fresh red bell pepper strips

1 belgian endive

FOR THE BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons minced fennel feathers or fresh parsley for garnish

Cut stalks from fennel head and reserve fennel feathers. Mince feathers and set aside. Remove any brown spots from fennel. Place head on a cutting board, stalk side up. Cut fennel vertically into 1/4-inch wide slices. Remove core and chop fennel coarsely into 1/2-inch chunks. Set aside.

Crumble cheese into bite-size pieces. Slice onion into very thin slices and separate rings. Separate radicchio leaves and halve lengthwise if too large. Slice belgian endive tip 1 1/2-inches long. Slice remainder of head crosswise into 1/4-inch wide slices. Separate rings, discarding center core if very tough and bitter.

To prepare the dressing, in a small glass bowl whisk the vinegar and salt until the salt dissolves. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Place the fennel, gorgonzola, onion, radicchio and endive in a medium size bowl. Immediately before serving, toss salad with enough dressing just to coat the ingredients. Add pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. There should not be any dressing in the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle salad with fennel feathers and toss gently. Serve at once. MILLION DOLLAR MEDLEY (8 dinner servings, 14 buffet servings)

SHERRY VINEGAR DRESSING:

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons minced fresh dill or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano (do not use dried dill)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

3/4 cup corn oil

Fresh dill sprigs

FOR THE SALAD:

24 green beans, or 3 zucchini

1 cucumber

2 small red bell peppers, or 3 roasted peppers, or 3 carrots

16-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, stalks quartered lengthwise

16-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, halved, and dried

For the dressing, whisk together the sherry vinegar, salt, garlic, dill, black pepper and white pepper. Whisk in the corn oil.

Wash the beans and remove stem ends and leave beans whole. If using zucchini, quarter lenghtwise, and cut crosswise into 3-inch fingers. Steam beans or zucchini for 3 to 5 minutes until tender crisp. Chill in cold water, drain well and dry thoroughly on clean tea towels. Beans or squash may be prepared one day ahead up to this point. Store with paper towels loosely wrapped in a plastic bag, refrigerated.

Peel the cucumber lengthwise, leaving 4 thin strips of peel. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and slice crosswise diagonally into 15 to 20 slices per half. Keep slices together and store on several layers of paper towels in a foil pan, loosely wrapped and refrigerated.

Halve and seed the red pepper, and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips. Slice roasted peppers the same way. Peel carrots and cut into fingers. Repeat zucchini procedure.

Two hours before serving, toss the beans, hearts of palm and artichoke hearts separately with the dressing.

Just before serving drain vegetables with a slotted spoon and reserve dressing. On a large platter, arrange a row of each vegetable -- beans, artichoke hearts, red peppers, cucumbers -- with dressing to lightly coat. Garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs. Serve at room temperature. THREE MUSHROOM SALAD WITH ORANGE (8 servings)

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING:

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

4 anchovies, mashed

1 tablespoon medium sweet sherry

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup olive oil

4 shallots, minced (about 1/3 cup)

FOR THE SALAD:

16 shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried

8 morel mushrooms

1/2 pound white mushrooms

2 oranges, skinned and halved lengthwise

8 small red bliss potatoes, skins on (about 3/4 pound)

1/2 head chicory, sliced 1/2-inch thick crosswise, then into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

For the dressing, whisk the mustard, anchovies, sherry, orange juice, cider vinegar, salt and pepper together. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Stir in the shallots. The dressing should be very flavorful, since the mushrooms and potatoes will dilute it.

Pour boiling water over the dried shiitake mushrooms to just cover and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes until softened. Remove the tough stem from either the fresh or dried shiitakes, and slice cap into 1/4-inch thick strips. Reserve soaking liquid.

Pour boiling water over the dried morels to just cover and let stand at room temperature until softened. Reserve soaking liquid. Cut morels in half lengthwise and check for sand, rinsing if necessary. Pat dry.

Cut stems of white mushrooms even with cap bottom, and reserve for another use. Slice the cap into 1/8-inch circles.

Cut oranges into 1/8-inch slices. Strain mushroom soaking liquid if necessary. Cook the potatoes in the soaking liquid and salted cold water to cover, until tender. Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch slices.

Two hours before serving, toss the shiitakes, morels, white mushrooms, potatoes and oranges with the dressing, Toss gently, or oranges will break up.

Shortly before serving, add the chicory and toss. Serve on a large white platter or in a high sided crystal bowl. BEETS WITH JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES (8 servings)

FOR THE POPPY SEED DRESSING:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 to 3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup walnut oil

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

FOR THE HORSERADISH CREAM:

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Hot pepper sauce

FOR THE SALAD:

1 1/2 pounds cleaned beets, cooked, peeled, julienned 1/8-by 1/8-by-1 inch (about 3 bunches)

1 cup peeled, julienned Jerusalem artichokes (or 1 cup sliced water chestnuts, dried)

4 stalks hearts of palm, sliced crosswise 1/8-inch thick

1/2 cup walnut pieces

16 snow peas, steamed 1 minute and julienned

6 scallions, green and white part sliced diagonally, very thin and slices separated

1 cup minced fresh parsley

For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, lime juice, maple syrup, salt, white and black pepper. Slowly whisk in the walnut oil. Stir in the poppy seeds.

For the horseadish cream, stir the sour cream, horseradish, and black pepper together. Add hot pepper sauce to taste.

To assemble the salad, 2 hours before serving, toss the beets, Jerusalem artichokes, hearts of palm and walnuts together with the poppy seed dressing. Just before serving, add the snow peas, scallions (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish), and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve the salad from a white ceramic bowl. Garnish with scallions. Pass the Horseradish Cream separately.