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Spinach salad - not your typical leaf salad

Posted: Friday, Jun. 22, 2012

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Chef Troy Gagliardo

Chef Troy Gagliardo is a self-taught chef that has parlayed his years of kitchen experience into many other culinary ventures. Including designing and developing his all-grilled restaurant concepts, 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 and competed in the Iron Fork competition both years. 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 approach directed toward the home-cook/viewer.His feature on Rising began in August of 2007, and since has become the most anticipated part of the show. During that time Troy has prepare over one thousand of his creative original recipes live on-air and has made several cooking appearances on the night time show, WCCB News Edge. Chef Troy teamed up with The Fresh Market as a sponsor for “Troy’s Everyday Eats" in April of 2011. Troy shops each week at The Fresh Market for the ingredients used on the show, he says, "The Fresh Market sponsorship is something I have pursued for a long time. I love shopping at their markets because everything is always so fresh. They have a large variety of organic and sustainable food options. As a consumer and chef, I couldn't ask for anything more". 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.

Spinach Salad with Charred Corn & Avocado Vinaigrette

News flash…leaf salads are only boring if they are made that way.

The poor, poor, pitiful salad - it never gets any respect or any of the culinary spotlight.

Mostly recognized as a side item, filler or something to eat so we feel healthy. It is time to stand up for leaf salads and make them more than an afterthought.

Prepare a salad that is exciting and vibrate, full of flavor and color, loaded with good things that taste great.

Accent with a dressing (something other than ranch or blue cheese) to elevate it into something it deserves to be…a stand alone “star!”

Salad:

Serves 4 as an Entrée or 6 as a Side Item

• 1 pound baby spinach

• 3 each, roma tomatoes, deseed & small diced

• 1/2 each, red onions, thin slices into half moons

• 8 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

• 1 pound bacon, sliced into strips, cooked and drained

• 1 cup sunflower seeds

• 1 pound asparagus, oiled, seasoned, grilled and left at room temperature

Dressing:

• 1 each, avocado, half, remove seed, scoop out flesh

• 1 clove fresh garlic, smashed

• 2 tablespoons cilantro, leaves only

• 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

• Juice of lemon

• 1/2 cup rice vinegar

• 1 cup, canola oil

• 2 cobs corn, parboiled, oiled, seasoned, grilled, slightly charring, removed from cob

Place all of the ingredients except the corn in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add half of the charred corn and pulse just to combine. Corn should still be visible.

Assemble:

Assemble salad in this order, either on separate plates or family style on one platter: spinach, tomato, onion, gorgonzola cheese, bacon, sunflower seeds and grilled asparagus, and top with remaining corn.

Serve the charred corn avocado vinaigrette on the side.

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