A roasted eggplant caponata that is simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.
I always buy eggplant this time a year as there are so many varieties available especially at local farm stands and markets. Be sure to pick fresh ones that are heavy and solid to the tap. This roasted eggplant caponata recipe really delivers a great flavor that goes well as side dish or an app. You can serve it with cucumbers to keep it really low carb or you can splurge with some lower carb pita chips shown below.
- 1 large eggplant - 3/4 inch diced, skin on
- 1 cup red onion - halved then sliced thin
- 1/2 cup green olives - pitted, sliced in quarters length-wise
- 1 cup fresh fennel bulb - coarse diced
- 1/3 cup capers - rinsed
- 1 cup tomato sauce - good quality jared or substitute with 4 ripe tomatoes - chopped coarse
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley - chopped coarse
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- 1.5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Toss eggplant in 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large bowl.
- Arrange eggplant single layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned, flipping halfway through, about 25 minutes. Let cool down.
- Cook fennel in bowling water for 4 minutes, drain and let cool - set aside.
- Heat remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over med-high heat.
- Add onion and cook till just golden about 5 min.
- Add the olives, capers, reserved fennel, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Gently stir in the eggplant, being careful not break up the eggplant.
- Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl or platter and cool.
- Garnish with parsley and serve cold or at room temperature.
- Can be made ahead a few days and gets better with age.
I often have trouble figuring out what to do with all the eggplants I buy. I mean how many eggplant parm-like dishes can one eat? This roasted eggplant caponata appetizer has become a welcome addition to the happy hours at my house and should at yours as well.
Everyone loves a grilled portobello!
Every once in a while you come across a grilled portobello mushroom appetizer that blows you away and you wonder why you can not make one of those at home. There is something special about the texture of a grilled portobello that you just can’t get in any other grilled veggie.
I have been experimenting for years to come up with a simple, summer, week-night side that smacks you upside the head with flavor, to accompany that perfect grilled steak. You could experiment endlessly as a grilled portobello is very forgiving and can take whatever you throw at it. I hope you like my version and try it the next time you are grilling out. Your family and friends will be impressed for sure. Mine always are!
- 2 large portobello mushroom caps
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup of gorgonzola or blue cheese
- 1/8 cup fresh chives chopped.
- Fresh ground salt and pepper
- On a plate cap side down, drizzle olive oil over both mushroom caps.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Fill mushroom cavity with blue cheese.
- Sprinkle with chopped chives.
- Place mushrooms on a medium hot grill cap side down.
- Grill for 10 - 12 minutes until all the cheese is melted and shrooms are tender and browned.
- Serve 1/2 a mushroom cap per person.
- Use good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar for best results.
- Other crumbly cheeses can be used if you prefer.
Eggplant Spinach Pizza is so easy, low carb and the variations are endless.
I have always made a simple breaded fried eggplant and topped it with a favorite jarred sauce as a side dish. Very simple and so delicious but loaded with the no-no combination of carbs and fat. I have tried almond flour to cut the carbs a bit but the results are not quite the same. Yet, I still find myself buying that purple veg whenever it looks good then wondering what to do with it that is more keto-friendly.
The perfect storm of ingredients in my fridge prompted this Eggplant Spinach Pizza that will now be a go to edible solution for my purple friend.
There are many possibilities and variations that you can have fun with depending on your favorite pizza toppings. This is a knife and fork situation so don’t worry about picking it up. Load on your creativity and see what you can come up with.
- 1 Large Eggplant - 3/4 inch sliced rounds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup mozzerella cheese - I like the fresh Ciliegine balls
- 1/2 cup parmesan reggiano - grated
- 1.5 cups fresh baby spinach - chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic - finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves - chiffonade
- 3/4 cup fresh cherry tomatoes - sliced
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce - favorite jarred or make your own
- fresh ground salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Salt both sides of eggplant and let rest on paper towels for 25 minutes.
- Wipe off salt.
- Olive oil a 9 x 11 baking pan and place eggplant rounds single layer.
- Bake for 25 minutes until slightly browned.
- In a bowl, toss spinach with garlic and a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Top each eggplant with a teaspoon of sauce.
- Add tomatoes.
- Add spinach mixture.
- Top with both cheeses.
- Top with fresh basil.
- Bake in the oven for another 15 minutes or until cheese turns slightly brown
- Jarred sauce is optional - you can make your own with crushed canned tomatoes or just let the fresh tomatoes be your sauce.
My first Zucchini Carbonara was a huge hit.
One of the great surprises for me of this ketogenic lifestyle is the complete reversal of things, that in the past were clearly bad for you, now with a few tweaks becoming health foods. Zucchini Carbonara is one of those happy surprises.
In the past Carbonara was a decadent dish you could only order a few times a year and only at special locations that perfected the dish and only if you had a strong heart.
Carbone’s in Bloomfield is our favorite spot for to-die-for Carbonara – my daughter Brynn’s favorite dish. She’s 12 and weighs in at about 75 lbs. soaking wet so there is always extra bites of Carbonara that my wife and I sample until we are both off the keto rails. See exibit A!
As a stocking stuffer I received my first veggie-spiral-slicer for making zucchini noodles and other veggie / pasta like substitutions. After blowing out of ketosis on our last visit to Carbone’s I decided to give the spiral slicer a go – I mean everything else in the dish is keto-friendly so why not add this to our weekly possibility of menu items. Pair this with a glass of Tuscan red wine and you will be transported to another land.
- 3 large zucchini - spiral sliced as noodles - use the larger size spiral
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta - sliced 1/4 inch thick then 1/4 inch diced
- 1 large shallot - finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove - finely chopped
- 1 large portobello mushroom top - sliced 1/8 inch and halved
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano - grated
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano - grated
- 3 large egg yolks
- Fresh ground salt and pepper
- 2 tbs coarsely chopped parsley
- Put a large pot of salted water on and bring to a boil.
- In a large skillet heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over med heat until most of the fat is rendered, 7 minutes or so.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Cook the zucchini noodles in the boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Add the cream and simmer over med heat until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Add the hot noodles to the skillet and stir to coat. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the cheeses - reserve some for later.
- Stir in the egg yolks.
- Sprinkle with parsley and fresh ground pepper.
- Serve with reserved cheese for the table.
- If you need more liquid in the sauce you can add a little of the pasta (zucchini) water.
- You can also add 1 sweet italian sausage patty when you are rendering the pancetta if you want to kick this up a notch!
Some of the best low carb salad dressings come from a bottle.
More often than not we make our own simple vinaigrette to go on our various salads but there are nights, when short on time, a decent bottled dressing does the trick. If you are looking for the best low carb salad dressings and the perfect avocado you do not have to go far. Most on the market are loaded with sugars and other questionable ingredients but then there are some really good ones if you know what to look for.
Newman’s Own offers several low carb, 2-3 grams per serving, options that are great in a pinch. They even have a low carb Caesar dressing but if I am going to make a Caesar Salad, I’m going to make it from scratch.
One of my favorite quick lunches I learned from my mother. Believe it or not between the Rice Krispies and Pop Tarts there are a few healthy food habits that your / my parents passed down, whether they knew it or not at the time.
Take a perfectly ripe avocado, remove the pit and fill the cavity with a good italian-ish dressing – dig in with a spoon getting some dressing with each bite. So simple and yet this is how I learned to eat an avocado. Who knew all these years later that avocado would play such an important role in my weight loss as it represents the perfect keto-friendly food. Thanks Mom! I still have not adopted her avocado-pit-on-the-window-sill-tree thing but hey, there’s still time!
If somehow you are new to avocados, here is the secret to a perfect ripe one. When you get one home, if its it is still hard and green, leave it on the counter for a day or two until it darkens a bit and feels a little soft but still firm when pressed on. Then put it in the fridge which will slow down the ripening process keeping it perfect until you are ready to eat it. Another way is checking under the stem. This part of the avocado holds a sneak peak for what’s going on under the skin.
Another favorite low carb option, if you can find it, is from Cindy’s Kitchen. These are some of the cleanest bottled dressings on the market and will be found refrigerated among the veggie isles as they are the freshest on this list. Many of these have zero carbs so enjoy them often.
You can’t go wrong with these easy week night shortcut dressings. Then again there is always the simplest solution – A really good EV olive oil and a squeeze of lemon on some arugula, salt and pepper, avocado, toasted pine nuts, shave some fresh fennel and parmesan and in minutes your perfect keto side salad is table ready.
This post is inspired by my neighbor Greg who insists I must have a secret knock or a, special, assigned to me, cheese-monger-type-lady friend at the supermarket that gives me exclusive access to all “the good cheese”. I assure him that this is not the case – she is not assigned to me exclusively and its more of a nod than a knock! We often find ourselves around our kitchen island at happy hour or even after a late night ping-pong session sampling all my recent good cheese finds that are well-matched to various jams and other accoutrements.
I assure you that even though cheese is keto-friendly, I often partake in the less keto, crackers, honey and jam, but within reason, and only once a week. Some things just go too well together – Is it wine:30 yet?
This time of year the markets load up on specialty cheeses more so than any other time of year anticipating our demand and willingness to splurge on entertainment for the holidays. The best cheese is often from Europe as well as some artisan local selections and all tend to be pricey. If you keep an eye out, some of these more expensive cheeses are marked down 50% as they near their sell-by date. That works for me as long as a happy hour plan is only a day or so away – ripe and ready to eat at 1/2 price – sign me up!
In order of best selection locally, Big Y hands down has got their act together in the cheese dept. Stop n Shop is next with ShopRight always tailing way behind. The Fresh Market also has a great selection of good cheese but at 20-30% more expensive overall than the others.
One of the cheese isles at Big Y in Avon, CT.
If you are a silver card member or are sitting on some silver coins from Big Y be sure to pick up some Prosciutto Di Parma to go with your cheese. It is almost always on sale for $14.99/lb. and if your catch it right – $9.99/lb.
Below are some great ones: Humboldt Fog – Goat, Fromager d’Affinois – Brie, Jarlsberg – Swiss, local aged Cheddar, Gorgonzola from Italy.
Mostly, cheese is about personal preference but be sure to explore and try something different, smelly or expensive this holiday season. I know I will. Cheers!
This is one of my favorite go-to appetizers once Tomato Season arrives. In general Tomatoes are higher in carbs than other veggies (I know.. it’s really a fruit) so I added Arugula to this Caprese dish so I can go lighter on the tomatoes. No matter how lower-carb I am trying eat, there is no way I’m not eating local tomatoes at the end of summer when they are at their best here in New England.
Another version of this salad has very good store bought variety of small tomatoes on the vine from Backyard Farms. I roast them at 350 degrees for 10-15min. The results… freakin awesome!
- 1 large ball Burrata Cheese
- 1 large Heirloom Tomato
- Fresh Arugula
- 5 leaves Fresh Basil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Good E.V. Olive Oil
- S & P - fresh ground
- Toss Arugula with Olive oil to lightly coat.
- Lightly season with fresh ground Salt and Pepper.
- Slice Tomato thick and place several slices on top of the Arugula.
- Lightly season with fresh ground Salt and Pepper.
- Slice cold Burrata ball in half and carefully place cut side down on the tomatoes.
- Chiffonade Basil and sprinkle on Tomatoes and Burrata.
- Lightly season with fresh ground Salt and Pepper.
- Drizzle Olive oil over Burrata and tomatoes.
- Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar.
- Serve with 2 forks and knives and enjoy!
- - Be sure to keep the the Burrata in the fridge until you are ready to make this as it is easier and less messy to cut in half when cold.
- - If you are not Keto-ing today, you can serve this app with some ciabatta toasts.