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
Best Braised Lamb Shanks on a cozy night at home with family and friends.
I am a big fan of lamb. Chops, legs, shanks, loins are all in my foodie playbook. I have favorite preparations for each cut and have invested many hours perfecting my cookery of this beast. Every once in a while I come across a person who claims they are not a fan. I imagine their only experience mirrors my first exposures as a kid, dried out, overcooked with green mint jelly. Thanks Mom for the intro… I’ll take it from here. Then with empathy, I go about my quest to convert them with a high percentage success rate.
This Braised Lamb Shanks recipe is one of my favs on a weekend or snowy night.
It takes a little more time but the prep is easy and the house smells great for hours. It’s a hearty meal and as an early Sunday dinner will carry you the rest of the day. Keep the carbs down by serving this with my Magical Cauliflower Mash.
- 3.5 lbs Lamb Shanks - (about 8 smaller ones)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup leeks, chopped
- 1/2 cup fennel, chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups dry red wine (about a 3rd of a bottle)
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with juices
- 1.5 cups - chicken broth
- 1.5 cups - beef broth
- 5 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 1 large portobello mushroom sliced
- Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in heavy large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Working in batches, add shanks to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer shanks to bowl.
- Add onions, carrots, leeks, fennel and garlic to pot and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in all remaining ingredients except sliced portobello mushrooms.
- Return shanks to pot, pressing down to submerge.
- Bring liquids to boil.
- Cover - place in 375 degree oven - about 2.5 hours total.
- Uncover pot last 45 minutes - stir once to coat meat with sauce.
- Sauce will reduce and exposed meat will brown.
- (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold; cover and keep chilled - Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.)
- Transfer shanks to platter - tent with foil.
- Boil juices in pot until thickened, med high - about 10 minutes.
- Add portobello mushroom slices - cook about 5 minutes more.
- Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over shanks.
- Serve Lamb Shanks with Cauliflower Mash - http://www.everydayketogourmet.com/wp/a-magical-cauliflower-mash/
- Optional - Strain the sauce before final reduction - then add the mushrooms and cook for 5 min.
- You can add more red wine, but I follow the rule - "only cook with wine you would drink" So - I like to have more to drink while I am cooking - up to you!
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.
Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits with Eggs that’ll bring you back down south.
If you have ever been down south at all, and were lucky, Shrimp and Grits must of crossed your path and your tastebuds, and were never to be forgotten.
At a minimum you have watched My Cousin Vinnie a dozen times and wondered what all the fuss is about.
A few years ago my wife Lisa took me to New Orleans for my birthday and we ate our way through downtown. We visited the usually places and some off-the-beaten-path hot spots for some of the best food on earth. At one spot across from our hotel in the French Quarter we had the most amazing breakfast of Shrimp and Grits that has been indelibly imprinted on my culinary mind.
There is a great regional spice mixture found in many creole dishes that we had to seek out and procure before heading back North. We have used it to make the famous Brennan’s Barbeque Shrimp and wowed our guests with transporting flavors as well as the 4 sticks of butter the recipe calls for. All keto-friendly until you add the loaf of french bread to sop up the life-changing butter sauce. Sorry – I don’t think there is ever gonna be a replacement for the crusty bread in this equation.
The other morning I had some leftover Cauliflower Mash and was inspired by its grit-like potential. This low-carb alternative to grits will become a new staple at our breakfast table and this southern dish, a welcomed guest at our home and soon to be yours.
Y’all come back now, ya hear!
- 2.5 cups raw cauliflower
- 2 tbsp fresh chives - chopped
- 3 large mushrooms - sliced thick
- 4 eggs
- 8 large raw shrimp - peeled
- 1 tbsp extra vigin olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 clove a garlic - minced
- 1/2 cup light cream
- Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices of Prosciutto di Parm - seared and crumbled
- 2 tsp creole seasoning
- In a mini-prep, process the raw cauliflower until riced.
- In a saute pan cook riced cauliflower over low heat for 5 min to evaporate some moisture.
- Add half the chives and the light cream - cook on low for 10 minutes, stir until creamy.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring pot of water to a boil covered.
- Spin water.
- Add eggs to center vortex.
- Cover and turn off heat.
- Set timer for 4 minutes.
- In a large saute pan on medium - high heat, add 1/2 tbs olive oil and half the butter.
- Brown the mushrooms - 5 minutes.
- When the eggs are dropped - add raw peeled shrimp to the pan with mushrooms.
- Add chives to shrimp.
- Add creole seasoning to the shrimp.
- Add other half of butter.
- Add 1/2 tbs olive oil.
- Toss shrimp to cook the other side and mushrooms until cooked through - 3-4 minutes.
- In a bowl add cauliflower.
- Top with shrimp and mushroom mixture. Be sure to scrape the buttery goodness onto the grits.
- Crumble Prosciutto on top.
- Top with 2 poached eggs.
- Add ground salt and pepper to taste.
- Dust with some creole seasoning to taste.
- Crisp bacon is another crumble option that will work well. Reserve some of the rendered bacon fat to cook the shrimp in along with the butter. In this case go lighter on the olive oil.
- If you like spicy, you can go a little heavier handed on the creole seasoning.
- There is some timing to pull this recipe off. The Grits can be made and kept warm on very low heat while you start the shrimp. Once the shrimp are in the pan the eggs need to be ready to come out just a few minutes later so they don't over cook.
- 1/2 cup sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and store the mixture in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to three months.
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.
Some Jerky’s I have come to love…
Convenience foods and snack foods are some of the bigger challenges when adopting a keto lifestyle. I am always on the lookout for shortcut foods that have the right ratios of macros for when I am on the go.
For a while I was excited about bacon jerky but in reality it’s kinda like eating a cold piece of last Sundays fatty bacon. I like bacon and all but it should be eaten crisp and at least warm.
Recently, I stumbled upon a “Slim Jim” type meat stick jerky that had a label to impress even the most picky of clean eaters and it tasted great too. The price was right at Ocean State Job Lot – $1 a stick so I went back and stocked up only to run out again a month later.
Doing some research online I found the source and just received my 1st order from the 40 year old, well-run, Tillamook Country Smoker out of Oregon. With the free shipping offer it was a great deal. After extensive digging there are only a few products in their line that I recommend as keto friendly – The Simply Crafted – Meat Sticks. I choose the Hunters Sausage and the Uncured Pepperoni both claiming – No Nitrates, Gluten Free, No Added MSG, Minimally Processed, No artificial ingredients, Zero Trans Fats, No preservatives added. Most of their other products contain more questionable ingredients and too many carbs as most jerky is cured with sugar.
Now please be clear – I am not suggesting that you can sustain a healthy life or even lose weight eating beef jerky all the time but as a once-in-awhile snack… These puppies are on point with only 1 – 2 carbs per stick and near perfect macro ratios that will keep you in ketosis. Eating “real food” is always the best choice but some times you need a quick on the go option that will support your low carb busy life!