This Wedge Salad delivers big flavor with bacon lardons and home-made blue cheese dressing.
Every once in a while I stumble upon a keto food with the perfect macros that I can’t imagine how I ever lived without.
My wife and I were out to dinner at The Capitol Grill in Hartford several nights ago and ordered The Wedge Salad. I forgot just how good these can be when they are done right and this one was friken amazing! We don’t often go to high-end steak houses but this place is worth the trip just for the wedge salad.
We are big fans of salads at our home but usually go for the more nutritious lettuce varieties like, Kale, Spinach, Arugula or at least Romaine. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even purchased a head of iceberg lettuce in over 20 years!
It’s time for a change!
In this case, the iceberg in the wedge salad is just a crisp delivery system for the whole-fat yumminess of the blue cheese dressing and bacon lardons.
To do this dish justice be sure to chill down your salad plates and dressing and keep the wedge cold and crisp until right before serving. If you want to go crazy, chill a few salad forks too.
I can see how this classic wedge salad might even be a meal for some if you add some grilled salmon or chicken but the slab bacon is really all you will ever need. Sometimes, messing with perfection is not always a good idea!
The lardons also adds a nice additional level of crunch to the crisp lettuce so you get to hold the croutons – perfect!
- 1 large head of Iceberg lettuce
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided (reserve a 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup sour cream - Full fat
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (olive oil - Hellmans)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 pound smoked slab bacon
- 1 large shallot, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and separated into rings
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place 4 salad plates in the refrigerator to chill.
- Mash garlic clove with salt with a chef knife against a cutting board to make a paste.
- Mash 1/2 of the blue cheese with the back of a fork in a medium bowl until mostly smooth. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, garlic paste, chives, and black pepper, and mix thoroughly until completely combined.
- Add half the remaining cheese and mix gently, leaving clumps of cheese here and there. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salad. Make at least 1/2 hour ahead of serving.
- Cut smoked slab bacon into 1/8 inch cubes.
- Cook the bacon in a single layer in a large frying pan over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp and deeply browned and most of the fat has rendered out. Transfer with tongs to the paper towel-lined plates; set aside.
- Core the lettuce and cut it into quarters through where the core was. Place a wedge on each of the chilled salad plates. Divide the shallot rings and tomatoes evenly among the plates. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the dressing over each wedge. Add the reserved slab bacon lardons evenly over the salads. Serve immediately.
- The dressing can be made and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Fresh crushed peppercorns are best
These Keto Zucchini Fritters are about as close as I’m ever gonna get to a low-carb version of one of my childhood favs – the potato latke. Sour cream with chives or creme fresh are still in but a little tzatziki can be a nice tweak to switch things up.
This is the perfect side dish in place of potatoes or if you are just cauliflower’d out.
These would also be a great base for a low-carb eggs Benedict on a lazy weekend morning. These Keto Zucchini Fritters are so good the kids will even like them. These will be especially good in summer with local farm fresh zucchinis but you can get good ones all year round.
- 2.5 cups zucchini, grated
- 1/3 cup almond flour or coconut flour or a mix of both
- 2 scallions, chopped fine
- 1/4 small onion, chopped fine
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1.5 tsp. Pepper, fresh ground
- 1 tsp. salt
- Grate the zucchini on a box grater - medium grate.
- Put the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt. Mix the zucchini gently to distribute the salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the zucchini out with your hands and place into a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Add the eggs and scallion to the zucchini and mix together.
- In a small bowl, add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir together.
- Add them to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.
- Heat oils in a medium to large pan over medium - high heat.
- Oil should completely cover the bottom surface of the pan.
- When the oil is hot, stir the zucchini mixture one more time and dip a ¼ cup measuring cup into the batter, level off. Dump the batter into the pan and gently push it into a flat pancake shape with the back of a metal spatula.
- Cook for four minutes adjusting the heat up or down as needed, then flip, cooking for another four minutes. Add more oil to the pan if needed to prevent sticking.
- Salt then drain the zucchini fritters on a paper towel before serving.
I feel in love with Ahi Tuna Poke on several trips to Hawaii.
Back when I was unconscious about carbs I would go out for sushi several times a week. I thought I was eating healthy and could never understand why eating so well I could never lose any weight. I’m kind of a sushi freak and when I find a place that is focused on great, fresh sushi I become the duke, a super-fan and frequent the establishment often.
Currently, I am the duke (yelp) with no one even close to 2nd place at an unassuming local hot spot in Avon, CT called Liki Sushi
This Japanese oasis is not distracted by hibachi like so many others in the area. This is reflected in the quality and freshness of the fish and the attention to detail my personal sushi chefs, Andy and company execute so well. They have great lunch specials and if you sit at the bar you may also get free app like the one below.
The trick to going low-carb is the shift I made to sashimi (hold the rice) several years ago. I do not miss the rice and I do not feel the need for nap after lunch anymore. Those balls of rice are clearly no friend to anyone attempting to get into shape. Another option is to get rolls made without the rice which many on-trend sushi spots will accommodate. Sauce on the side is not a bad idea either. If it tastes too sweet, it probably is, and you should use sparingly or avoid altogether.
When it comes to raw tuna at home however, I prefer this simple preparation of Ahi Sushi Poke. I hope you enjoy my take on Ahi Sushi Poke and I assure you it will be a big hit at your next get together with low-carb friends or a romantic evening starter with the one you love.
- 1 pound sashimi grade ahi tuna
- 1.5 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. chilli powder
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. good quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp. ponzu dressing (kikkoman or other)
- fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seed
- 1 ripe avocado 1/4 inch dice
- 1/8 tsp. coriander
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 ground pepper
- 1/3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp. Black caviar or tobiko for garnish
- 1 tbsp olive oil for garnish
- Tuna chopped into 1/4 inch dice.
- Shallot, scallion, corriander, chilli powder.
- Add olive and sesame oils and toss evenly coat.
- Just before serving add toasted sesame seed and mix.
- Avocado, coriander, salt, ground pepper and lime juice.
- Use a 4" mini-spring form pan (or similar - tin can open at both ends)
- With a spoon, pack tuna then avocado - reverse if forming with a tin can.
- Place avocado side down then remove pan.
- Drizzle olive oil
- Top with black Tobiko.
- Makes 2 towers
This simple keto frittata is loaded with good stuff and you’ll never miss the potatoes.
My wife Lisa is the master at the low-carb breakfast. Ever since we honeymooned in Spain, my wife and I have always appreciated a great frittata. The Barcelona Wine Bar in West Hartford, CT is where we usually go to get our frittata fix, complete with a dollop of fresh sour cream. Those off-the-rails carbs however are usually reserved for the weekend.
This Killer Keto Frittata makes a great late night snack after a night out with friends – we’re too old for Denny’s!
Back to breakfast! You can adjust the ingredients to your taste and you can swap out one veggie for another – same goes for the cheeses. I’ve included my favorites below – pick two or three and go for it.
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tbs. half n half
- 1/2 medium onion - chopped
- 1/3 cup leeks - chopped
- 4 asparagus spears - 1/4 inch chop
- 1 cup broccoli - rough chopped
- 1.25 cups cheese shredded (swiss, smoked swiss, gouda, smoked gouda, fontina, cheddar)
- 1 tsp. Fresh thyme
- 2 tsp. butter - divided
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Melt 1/2 the butter In a 9 inch non-stick, oven-safe pan on med-low heat saute' veggies slow - about 8 min.
- In a bowl whisk eggs & half and half.
- Add salt and pepper and stir in shredded cheese.
- Stir in veggies to the bowl with the eggs.
- Add rest of the butter to the pan and melt on low heat.
- Pour the eggs, cheese and veggie mix into the hot pan.
- Slowly scramble mixture until lose curds form and eggs are almost set - About 3 minutes.
- Finish in oven under broiler on high until eggs begin to brown - about 5 minutes.
- Serve hot.
This Keto Fried Eggplant is my go-to for a substantial side that is almost a meal in and of itself.
What to do with an eggplant? I always come back to beginning, to the core of the issue. When I was a kid, my mother used to prepare fried eggplant and serve it the same way – simple with sauce. As you can see I’ve been on an eggplant kick as of late. Perfecting the perfect lower-carb fried eggplant side dish has been on my to do list for some time, and now, I think I’ve cracked it.
Be sure the rest of your meal is on the lighter side as you may find it hard to stick to one serving of these beauties. At 13 grams of net carbs per serving including the sauce – these are a keeper at my house. The kids even eat them!
- 1 large purple eggplant
- 1/4 cup of almond flour
- 1/4 cup hazelnut flour
- 1/4 cup Romano cheese - grated
- 5 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp half n half
- Fresh ground salt and pepper - to taste
- 1.25 cups jared tomato sauce - Rao's, etc
- Peel large eggplant.
- Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch round slices.
- Lightly salt both sides, lay on paper towel for 20 minutes to remove excess moisture.
- Mix Romano cheese and flours on a small plate. Add salt and pepper.
- Heat large fry pan on medium high.
- Add avocado and coconut oils.
- Mix egg and half n half to make egg wash.
- Coat eggplant slices with egg wash then flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.
- In batches, fry eggplant slices in hot oil - about 4 minutes per side until golden.
- Place fried eggplant on a large plate with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
- Salt eggplant to taste.
- Top with a tbsp of your favorite heated jarred tomato sauce.
- Don't go cheap on the jarred sauce. The better the sauce, the better this dish will taste. I prefer Rao's or Franks but there are many choices between $5 and $8 a jar that are worth every penny.
- Also be sure to check for carbs - not all jarred sauces are created equal.
- Bob's Red Mill makes some great hazelnut and almond flours.
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.