Vegan? Carnivore? Gregory Gourdet's Summer Salad Satisfies All Eaters

Departure's Top Chef celeb pulls out all the stops for this equal-opportunity stunner.

By Benjamin Tepler August 14, 2017 Published in the September 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Thai basil, Thai chiles, makrut lime leaf, and coconut sugar can be found at Fubonn and other Asian markets.

There is exactly one big hotel restaurant in the state that offers full omnivorous, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo menus. Departure, perched on the roof of the Nines Hotel and led by Top Chef celeb Gregory Gourdet, does this for up to 800 guests and diners a night. “We feed thousands and thousands of people annually,” says Gourdet. “We have a two page-long gluten-free menu. So yeah, it’s intense.”

The master of equal-opportunity dining pulls out all the stops in late summer, when Oregon is in full bloom. This vegan warm-weather salad is classic Gourdet: bursting with fruit, leafy with Southeast Asian herbs, and radiating heat. Dining with cheese mongers? Add some salty feta or creamy burrata. Meat eaters? Add trout, and watch fruit and seafood harmonize in ways you didn’t think possible. Everybody to the table.

Late-Summer Salad with Berry-Coconut Dressing

Serves 4

  • Coconut milk dressing*
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes**
  • ½ cup each of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries (To go full Gourdet, cut each berry in half.)
  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes, quartered and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 2 nectarines, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 2 ears corn, lightly grilled, kernels cut away from cobs
  • 12 mint leaves, torn
  • 16 cilantro leaves
  • 10 Thai basil leaves, torn (save stems for tomatoes)
  • Sea salt and olive oil for seasoning
  • Edible flowers (optional)

In a bowl, toss berries in coconut milk dressing and crush gently with fork to meld flavors. On a platter, lay out sliced beefsteak tomatoes, corn, and nectarines, and season with sea salt. Top with roasted cherry tomatoes. Pour on just enough berry–coconut milk dressing to coat, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and garnish with herbs.

*Coconut Milk Dressing

Whisk together ½ cup coconut milk, ½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes), 1 Thai chile, sliced thin, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 makrut (kaffir) lime leaf, destemmed and minced, 1 tsp salt, ¼ cup coconut sugar, and ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil.

**Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 clove garlic, sliced thin, and 4 Thai basil stems together in a bowl. Spread on a roasting tray and cook until the edges of the tomatoes are lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

For Vegetarians: Add ¾ lb burrata or goat cheese, crumbled before saucing.

For Carnivores: Add 1¼ lb salmon, trout, or arctic char, rubbed with salt and olive oil and grilled.

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