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Spring Clean – simple, clean-tasting food is in season

Posted: Monday, Apr. 30, 2012

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Chef Troy Gagliardo

CChef Troy Gagliardo is a self-taught chef that has parlayed his years of kitchen experience into many other culinary ventures. Including a proprietary spice line, cook books, commercials, food styling, cooking/restaurant columns, endorsements, cooking classes, and live appearances. Troy has been voted as one of the Charlotte’s Top Five Chefs two years in a row by Creative Loafing readers. Chef Troy has appeared in two national commercials with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and joined him for a media tour day just days before Dale Jr. won his second Daytona 500 to start the 2014 NASCAR season. For the past seven years, Chef Troy has appeared each week on Charlotte's morning show WCCB News Rising, cooking his way through "Troy’s Everyday Eats". Filmed live each week at the WCCB Charlotte studios, Chef Troy teaches his unique style of food with a simple Warren publishing recently signed Chef Troy to publish his new cookbook entitled Pseudo Southern-a playful twist on the art of southern cooking, which has been endorsed by Top Chef Alum and best-selling author Fabio Viviani and also star of “A Chef’s Life” Vivian Howard. Fabio said of Pseudo Southern, "Southern food is my second home. It's as close to my heart like Italy is, and that is why I love Troy's recipes so much. They remind me of the childhood I would have had if I was born in the south”. Vivian had this to say, “Troy’s take on southern food is just left of center, fun, and refreshing. His recipes are approachable that even the most jaded cook will be intrigued to try.” Chef Troy is also a free-lance food writer for the Charlotte Observer and Examiner.com and lives in Mooresville, NC with his wife Tracy, of twenty-three years, and their two daughters, Ally and Isabella. He can be seen every Tuesday morning from 7-9 am on WCCB News Rising.

Warmer weather changes everything. It changes what we wear, what we do and most certainly what we eat. The cold snap of winter weather entices us to eat hearty comfort foods to warm our bodies and spirit. Spring weather means lighter clothing and lighter food.

“Light” doesn’t have to mean tasteless boring food; it can mean clean, colorful and most importantly flavorful dishes. To bring such a dish to life with guaranteed success it has to be balanced. Contrasting textures, flavor combinations and different temperatures of the main components sway the taste-bud scale in the right direction.

Creating and preparing your own lighter dish starts with fresh ingredients. Buy proteins from a reputable store that carries fresh seafood, farm raised beef/pork and free-range chicken. There is no substitute for getting fresh vegetables from a farmers market or organic-friendly food store to make your dish taste of wholesome goodness.

Whenever creating a dish of your own, think of it in separate parts even if you plan to put them together. Choose a protein and decide which cooking method you are going to use and then determine how you want to flavor it. You may want to go “all natural” and only use olive oil, salt and pepper – or maybe spice it up a bit with bolder flavors. That is what makes cooking enjoyable – the freedom to mix and match ingredients and flavors according to what you like.

Naturally, after the protein is determined you have to make the decision of what will go with it: fresh vegetables, a grain, rice or pasta. The days are long gone that we have to have a meat and two or three side dishes. Some of the most successful and satisfying dishes we eat/create are one-plate meals that have different components to make a complete dish.

However, the most important item to make an awesome light, clean-tasting and great looking dish is simplicity. Complicated dishes normally have flavors that are muddled with no real taste of each individual ingredient. Using fewer ingredients will highlight each individual taste of the great products that you purchased.

Chipotle Molasses-Glazed Salmon Spinach Salad with Orange Ginger Dressing


• 4 4/6-ounce salmon filets, skin off
• To drizzle, canola oil
• To taste, kosher salt
• To taste, black pepper
• 3 tablespoons molasses, full flavor
• 1/2 orange, zest and juice of
• 1 teaspoon chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce); peppers only, deseeded, diced


• 10 ounces baby spinach
• 1 cup shredded carrots
• 1/4 cup red onion, thin
• 1/2 cup smokehouse almonds
• 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Orange Ginger Dressing:

• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 orange, zest and juice of
• 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
• To taste, kosher salt/black pepper


Whisk together the molasses, orange juice and chipotle until well combined.Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Drizzle salmon with oil, season with salt and pepper, place on the grill flesh side down. Let salmon grill without moving for 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully slide a flat metal spatula under the salmon and turn 45 degrees. Grill another 2 to 3 minutes then flip (see tip below).

After flipping the salmon, brush with molasses chipotle glaze. Continue grilling and brushing with the glaze, cooking salmon until just cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Brush with glaze just before removing from the grill, set salmon on a plate to rest.

While the salmon is cooling, prepare the dressing by placing the mustard, orange juice, vinegar and ginger in a blender. Blend to combine. While the blender is running, start adding the oil slowly until all has been incorporated. Pour dressing into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk in the sesame seeds, set aside until ready to dress salad.

On a large serving platter or 4 individual plates, place the baby spinach and top with the carrots, onions and almonds. Brush salmon with glaze and place on salad. Top with goat cheese, drizzle dressing all over the salad and serve immediately with the remaining dressing on the side.

Troy’s Grilling Tips:

• Always preheat and clean grilling surface – lightly oil grates with cooking oil
• Remove refrigerated proteins 30 minutes prior to grilling – this ensures even cooking
• Pat proteins dry before seasoning – moisture starts a steaming process instead of a char
• Learn your grills hot spots – after preheating, white spots will appear on the grill grates
• Let grilling proteins lie… it will naturally release itself, don’t force it
• Let cooked proteins rest – this allows the natural juices to firm up

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