You might be surprised to learn that salad can be one of the most perfect keto meals. Sure, you probably hear all about the steaks and the cheeses and the bacon and the double cream, but there's a lot more to keto than solely meat and cheese. In fact, the healthiest way to live the clean keto lifestyle is to maximise your nutrients while remaining low-carb. And a delicious, colourful salad topped with a healthy olive oil salad dressing is a great addition to your keto meal planning.
There are tons of creative ways to make salad dressing using olive oil, whether you're going for a lighter vinaigrette or a thicker ranch-style dressing. We'll share some of our favourite ingredients to create olive oil salad dressing recipes along with some nutrient-dense, keto-friendly salad combinations that will make you wonder why you're not eating a salad every day.
Salad Dressing Basics
If you're new to making salad dressings from scratch, you might be surprised to learn that you likely have everything you need already sitting in your kitchen cupboards. Some of the best salad dressings are made with basic ingredients that are used creatively to make something entirely new.
To make a delicious salad dressing from scratch, you need:
- A good, healthy fat like olive oil or avocado oil — or if you're wanting to maximise your keto fat burn, a combination of one of these and MCT oil
- An acid like citrus juice or vinegar
- Some sort of emulsifier (egg, mustard)
Mustard is one of the most reliable emulsifiers, but if you're not wanting to add a mustard flavour to your salad dressing recipe, you could swap that out for egg yolk, mayonnaise, tahini or even a touch of sour cream or Greek yoghurt.
If you've got your blender handy, you could also use a ripe avocado and blend all of your ingredients together. Of course, there's always room for more than just those three ingredients to accomplish more complex flavours — fresh or dried herbs, black pepper, crushed garlic cloves, anchovy or Parmesan cheese, to name a few — but those three ingredients are the basics you need to make a delicious salad dressing.
Creative Olive Oil Vinaigrette Dressing Ideas
Now that you have some of the basics covered, let's create the perfect vinaigrette recipe.
Most salad dressing recipes land on a roughly 1:3:1 ratio — one part vinegar, three parts oil, one part emulsifier. This can change depending on the flavour profile you're looking for and whatever additional ingredients you may want to include, but in general, choosing that ratio gives you enough fat to balance the acid and enough emulsifier to create a smooth consistency that isn't too liquidy.
Some vinegar dressings are meant to be thinner than others, so those might even skip the emulsifier and use only oil and acid.
Here are some recipes for homemade olive oil salad dressings:
- For a Greek salad dressing, you'll want to use the 1:3:1 ratio with a combination of red wine vinegar and lemon juice, olive oil (extra virgin olive oil if you have it) and mustard. You'll also want to add a finely minced garlic clove, oregano, salt and pepper. Using a fork or a whisk, beat all the ingredients together until fully emulsified into a smooth consistency.
- For an Italian salad dressing, you'll want to use the same oil and vinegar ratio above, but use white wine vinegar instead, skip the mustard and add in some fresh chopped basil and red pepper flakes.
- If you're looking for a balsamic dressing, you can cut the balsamic vinegar with red wine or apple cider vinegar to reduce the carbohydrates and keep your dressing keto-friendly. And we know this sounds weird, but balsamic vinaigrette dressing also makes for an innovative keto ice cream topping when you add a touch of monk fruit syrup or inulin sweetener.
- For a Latin twist on vinaigrette, place finely chopped coriander and shallot into a small bowl, squeeze two or three limes’ worth of lime juice, add a touch of red wine vinegar and then whisk in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. For a thicker version of this dressing, whisk in an egg yolk too. And if you're not strictly keto but more on the paleo side, add a touch of raw honey and a squeeze of orange juice to sweeten it up.
If you're anything like the rest of us, you don't have time to make salad dressing from scratch every time you want to eat a nice green salad, so do yourself a favour and make extra or buy a pre-made salad dressing. Refrigerate the extra in a tightly sealed glass jar.
If you're using raw egg, make sure you finish your dressing in the next couple of days, but otherwise, you can store it for a while in the fridge.
How to Build the Perfect Salad
Now that you've put your healthy olive oil salad dressing together, let's move on to salad ingredients. How you put your salad together will be the next important step in creating a delicious keto meal filled with healthy fats, good proteins and tons of nutrition.
For your standard Greek salad, you'll want to grab a box of mixed greens, thinly slice some red onions, cucumbers and tomatoes, pop open a jar of de-seeded kalamata olives, and toss with your dressing and feta cheese. Here's our recipe that tells you everything you need to know to turn a Greek salad into a filling meal.
If you're a ranch dressing lover or craving a salad from across the pond, try this keto Cobb salad recipe. It's super filling and features only healthy fats from the olive oil ranch, avocado, feta, hard-boiled eggs and streaky bacon.
If you're looking for a warm or wilted salad recipe, we have you covered too. There's no rule saying that you can't put cooked veg into a salad. Try roasting some veg and chicken thighs in the oven before tossing the warm veg into mixed greens and an olive oil vinaigrette. Top with toasted pepitas or seeds and a chicken thigh for a one-bowl meal.
Meat-based salads are also great vehicles for wholesome olive oil salad dressings, especially if you're looking to skip the mayonnaise. You could use a lemon vinaigrette as the base for a chicken salad, egg salad or tuna salad, and either eat it on keto bread or atop a big green salad.
Salad All Day
You can go any way you like with your salad to create something new every time you sit down to eat. We only scratched the surface with olive oil salad dressings, but there are other healthy oils you can use and other creative additions to your dressing bottles and salad bowls.
Here's a list of 12 new ideas for healthy salad dressings above and beyond what we covered here. Your salads just got a lot more interesting!
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It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
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