Salads make easy all-year-round lunches, but they are at their best during summertime. This flavorful, yet simple and easy-to-make salad tastes especially good when prepared from high-quality, fresh ingredients. The fewer ingredients you use, the better their quality should be!
In this 5-ingredient salad, sweet, caramelized walnuts make a heavenly, crunchy company to salty and soft goat cheese. If you are new to a keto diet, you might think that “keto” and “caramelized” would be mutually exclusive. However, you can easily make a very low-carb version of caramelized nuts that fit perfectly a keto diet — when you use a natural, carb-free sweetener, like in this recipe.
How to make the Keto Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Walnuts
For this salad, in addition to just arranging the ingredients on a serving plate, you’ll need an extra — though a very quick and easy — step: caramelizing the walnuts. Since the carb count is low, I call them Keto Caramelized Walnuts.
And when making the keto caramelized walnuts, the most important thing is not to let them burn while cooking. It might feel that nothing is happening in the skillet, but the nuts might turn too brown suddenly, so keep your eye in them while cooking. And remember to mix the nuts all the time so that they toast evenly and get that delicious caramel coating all over.
Oh yes, this salad is at its best when served immediately after preparing. The sweetener might crystallize when the nuts cool down — especially if you have used a considerable amount of sweetener. 1 tablespoon shouldn’t cause crystallization.
The recipe makes one large serving for a big hunger and two servings for a smaller hunger. Naturally, if you make the dish for a bigger crowd, you can double or triple the ingredients. Just take into account that the salad should be served immediately for the best taste and texture.
But let’s take a look at how to prepare this simple yet satisfying salad:
First, caramelize the walnuts: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons (i.e., 1 oz = 30 g) salted grass-fed butter on the skillet. Salted butter is a must: it makes a decadent combo with the sweet caramel flavor.
Mix, until the butter is melted.
Add 2 oz (60 g) walnuts.
Cook, all the time stirring…
…until the walnuts have got golden color. Don’t let them get too brown! Set the nuts aside while you do further preparations.
Take a serving plate and add about 2-3 cups (2 oz = 60 g) mixed salad greens.
Arrange 2 oz (60 g) goat cheese slices on top.
Take the keto caramelized walnuts and add them on top of the salad.
Here we go.
You can add the leftover butter as a sauce — or use good-quality olive oil.
Ready! Beautiful, isn’t it?
And so tasty! Yum!
How I came up with this keto salad recipe
This recipe actually originates from 2012, so quite precisely 8 years ago – or at least I have made my first notes of it at that time. I have different files for different types of recipe ideas, and this recipe happens to be the first idea on salad recipe list.
Well, from my notes, I can see that I had used a maltitol-based brown sugar substitute for my first experiment because, at that time, there simply didn’t exist erythritol-based brown sugar substitutes. For the second experiment, I had used a chicory root fiber-based brown sugar substitute called Just Like Sugar. That particular brown sugar substitute doesn’t exist anymore if I recall right.
Anyway, I never made it to the actual salad: after my first trials to make keto caramelized walnuts, I gave up because I wasn’t satisfied either with the texture or the taste of the nuts.
I noticed that first of all, I had used far too much sweetener. It just crystallized into large lumps and made the nuts unappetizing. Secondly, the sweeteners weren’t good enough to get a proper caramelized taste as there was a weird aftertaste, especially in that chicory root-based sweetener.
So, it took this many years to find again that old recipe idea for a goat cheese salad with keto caramelized walnuts. Currently, there are lovely erythritol-based brown sugar substitutes in the market, and they create an excellent sweet keto snack, as you can see from this recipe for 5-Ingredient 1-Minute Cinnamon Bun Keto Snack.
I took my old notes and had learned the most important lesson: instead of 2 oz (60 g) sweetener, I took just 1 tablespoon — about 1/6 of the original amount. I actually reduced the amount of butter and nuts as well because I wanted to make just one serving of salad, but first of all, to try if my recipe really works.
This time, the result was just perfect: lightly toasted, caramelized walnuts that were deliciously crunchy and melting in my mouth!
Now, when I got the keto caramelized nuts perfected, it didn’t take too much effort to plan the salad part. I took a couple of cups of mixed salad greens and calculated the quantity of goat cheese to get just the right amount of protein from the cheese. I do love calculating things!
After sprinkling the caramelized walnuts on top of the salad, I was ready to dig in. After taking the first forkful, I was totally sold! The fireworks of textures and flavors were incredible! And everything with just 5 ingredients!
Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy:
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz = 30 g) salted, grass-fed butter
- 1-2 tablespoons erythritol-based brown sugar substitute like Sukrin Gold
- 2 oz = 60 g walnuts
- 2-3 cups (about 2 oz = 60 g) mixed salad greens
- 2 oz = 60 g goat cheese (preferably chèvre-type)
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and the sweetener on the skillet. Let the butter melt.
- Add the walnuts. Cook, all the time stirring, until golden brown. Don't let burn! Set the skillet aside.
- Arrange the salad greens and the goat cheese on a serving plate. Top with the caramelized walnuts. You can use the butter from the skillet as salad dressing -- or add good-quality olive oil or your preferred keto salad dressing.
- Serve immediately.
|Nutrition information||In total||Per serving if 2 servings in total|
|Protein||22.3 g||11.2 g|
|Fat||78.0 g||39.0 g|
|Net carbs||3.4 g||1.7 g|
|kcal||803 kcal||402 kcal|
How to vary the recipe
Suppose you don’t like the characteristic, sharp flavor of goat cheese. In that case, you can basically use any flavorful — preferably salty — cheese for this salad. For example, Swiss cheese would be an excellent alternative to goat cheese.
Recently, I found Greek Kefalotiri cheese from a store here in Tampere. It’s salty, hard cheese made from goat and lamb milk. I’ve also used 12 months matured Spanish Manchego cheese and 9 months matured French Comté cheese. They were also fantastic!
But I think the coolest thing was when I found chèvre-type cheese made from the milk of Finnish heritage goats. That cheese was the most flavorful and sharp goat cheese I’ve ever tasted!
I prefer walnuts in this salad, but for example, pecans are a marvelous option, too. With their naturally sweet flavor, they are just like made for caramelizing.
This has been one of the most exciting — and one of the busiest ever! — weeks. The first batches of our Ketokamu vegetable puree soups “Kukkis” and “Parsis” (yep, you can blame me for the names…) were made on Monday and Tuesday and shipped to us later. Kukkis contains cauliflower and other veggies and is seasoned with curry while Parsis contains an ample amount of broccoli and gets its slightly herby flavor from Herbes de Provence and a tangy note from lemon and ginger juice.
Actually, the soups were shipped to Bistro Naapuri, where we had the premiere tasting of our soups. Here’s the fridge in Bistro Naapuri full of our soups!
The excitement was tangible: we hadn’t tasted the factory-made versions of our soups yet as this was the first-ever batch made in a factory. How did they turn out now as larger, industrial batches? Are they so good that we dare to let people taste them – and even sell them?
Yesss! After the first spoonfuls I learned that both soups were excellent: tasty, rich, and very satisfying. You don’t need many spoonfuls to get satisfied as the soups contain only real, clean ingredients and lots of genuinely good fats. Did I mention that the soups are vegan, too?
It’s pretty exciting to see my soup recipes as commercial versions. I’ve planned the recipes very carefully and also calculated the macros to make the ratios perfect for a keto diet. When our Ketokamu-Markus told me about the benefits of broccoli and about cruciferous vegetables in general, I knew that these soups will change the world.
The cardboard covers for the soups also arrived at Bistro Naapuri. We wanted to create a unique style to the soup packages, and I think we succeeded awesomely. These soups will stand out of the gray mass of commercial ready soups. This marketing agency created the covers according to our wishes. Aren’t these just cute!?
Here’s our Markus proudly presenting the covers:
We also wrote our story inside the package — and we also signed it!
On Friday and Saturday, we let people taste the soups at Bistro Naapuri. I made a large sign outside the building about the event. Here I’m drawing our logo. It was pretty dark as it was close to midnight, but I think it turned out well.
I continued making the sign at Bistro Naapuri on the next day.
Ta-dah! Here’s the ready sign, and me presenting it. We are ready to let people taste our soups!
Here is Markus opening the first ever soup container.
We heated the soups in large pots. Here’s Markus stirring the soup.
People could also buy the soups with them. Here’s our first ever customer, Eeva Pauliina, who was thrilled of our soups and our mission to revolutionize the ready meal market. She has also found the keto diet beneficial. Currently, she does research about the keto diet and mental issues, especially keto and depression.
There were dozens of people tasting our soups and the feedback was extremely positive. People were surprised how tasty and satiating the soups were. No wonder: one soup is made to work as a full, complete meal. You don’t need to add anything on the side. And unlike the current soups in the market, our soup will keep the hunger away for hours — without spiking the blood sugar levels!
Next week, the story continues when we will do a tasting tour in 8 different Ruohonjuuri stores. Stay tuned!