Spicy carrot, cucumber and avocado salad

Gregory Gourdet, chef de cuisine at Departure Restaurant and Lounge in downtown Portland, is hungry for spring bounty. “I can’t get enough earthy vegetables. You have enjoy them while you can!” Gourdet says he has a particular hankering for pickled ramps and wild spring mushrooms. We asked him to share a recipe (see below for spicy carrot, cucumber and avocado salad) as well as his thoughts on the season.

What is your favorite Oregon activity this time of year?
Oregon has turned me into quite the runner. I’ve run eight marathons in the three and a half years I’ve lived here. I love being able to put on shorts again and head into Forest Park for a long, muddy run. The moss and new greenery are so vibrant.

How does spring inspire your creativity?
Spring is about lighter earthy foods that represent Mother Nature’s reawakening — tender spring chinook salmon, morels, ramps, wood sorrel, radishes, mint and light spice mixes.

What are you hungry for right now?
This carrot salad recipe is just lovely in the spring. As baby carrots come into season at our local farms, you can get a beautiful mix of purple, orange, yellow and white carrots. The contrast of crunchy carrots and croutons, tangy and spicy pickled cucumber with bright ginger and cilantro is amazing.

Spicy carrot, cucumber and avocado salad

For the cucumber marinade:
10 Japanese or pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
5 Thai chilies, thinly sliced
1 medium knob ginger, about 2 oz., fine julienne
3 cups rice wine vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well to dissolve sugar. Transfer to a smaller container. Let sit for two hours or overnight.

For the salad
2 pounds baby carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved and blanched
3 cups sourdough bread, chopped, tossed in olive oil, salted and baked to make croutons
3 ripe avocados, diced
1 bunch of cilantro, washed and picked
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted black sesame seeds

In a large bowl, combine carrots with cucumber marinade, leaving out some of the extra liquid. Add avocado, croutons, sea salt, olive oil and cilantro to taste. Divide among six bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves six.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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