Maybe you're looking for sides to go with chicken. Maybe you need side dishes for steak dinner. Unless you've gone full-on carnivore, it's not enough that you have a main dish. You still need low carb sides to make your keto dinner more fun and interesting.
It's super easy to come up with keto diet dinner recipes when you master just this one. Truth to tell, with the right equipment and ingredients on hand, there's not even that much mastery to it.
First, keep plenty of frozen vegetables on hand. We have sacks and sacks of veggies we grew over the summer that we processed as we harvested them: leeks, various squashes, chard, collards. Also, we like to get bags of mixed frozen veggies — different assortments for different moods.
Then, always have long-lasting fresh veg like onions and garlic in stock. You don't need to put these in the refrigerator.
And try to have a few fresh vegetables that are more perishable, too, like mushrooms, green onions, yellow squash, zucchini, fresh spinach, asparagus, and assorted colors of bell peppers. But not necessarily all at once! I always need to fight the temptation to buy more than I can use. When I do succumb and get every delicate, perishable item that caught my eye, then I at least try to cook with them, that night, before I've forgotten all about how excited I was about them!
This is especially true of a veggie you haven't cooked with or eaten before and don't know quite what to do with. I'm looking at you, chayote. Right back atcha, Jerusalem artichoke and yucca. Well, as least you enriched the compost for next season. At least try to look up a recipe for it while it's still the same day.
But the truth is, most vegetables don't require their own special recipe. Almost everything, from jicama to beets, will respond well to just being sliced thin enough to cook through, and kissed with enough salt to let its natural flavor shine out.
Making the best keto side dish for whatever you're serving is as simple as tossing a cup or two or whatever veggies you have handy into a bowl and mixing them up with a couple of tablespoons of good quality tamari soy sauce, a few shakes of hot sauces, and plenty of healthy, natural oil. Then cook them fast and hot.
If you have an air fryer, that's ideal. You can just place it all in the basket of your air fryer and let it go on a medium-high heat for 10 minutes or so. We got the Secura 5.3 quart Electric Hot Air Fryer a few months ago, and we love it. It made keto dinner so much easier to achieve. Who'da thunk it.
Keep changing up the selection of veggies, and you'll be amazed at how different each meal turns out. Get some seasoning blends — natural herbs and spices only, no flavors (even “natural”), hydrolyzed anything, anti-caking agents, or anything else that doesn't grow out of the ground. (Or under the ground, as the case may be.) Use different ones on different days, if you like. Try different oils — avocado, olive, coconut, ghee, even peanut. See how the flavors change.
You don't have to work hard at coming up with different assortments and combos. Just use whatever. Most days, 90% might be the same. But that's enough to create complexity and variety. It's like keto for dummies. At least, it works for me.
Today, we brought home a Costco rotisserie chicken from our shopping trip. I rummaged in the freezer and found a bag of round, green disks: it was the beautiful Kikinda squash we'd grown this summer for the first time. Kikinda is sort of like zucchini, but tastier and with firmer, better texture. Also it grows to around 8 feet long, if you let it. That's the squash itself, not the vine. But as long as you pick it before it gets much beyond 4 feet long, it's still tasty and tender. (!) Bringing it out reminded me of our adventures with this exuberant vine just a few months ago. I poured about a cup and a half into a large bowl.
Any summer squash will work with any low carb zucchini recipes you might have. You might not have a Kikinda lying around, but remember that yellow squash, green squash, zuke, or anything that even seems similar — they're all pretty much interchangeable.
I added about a cup of sliced leeks (also from the garden) and a few fresh sliced mini bell peppers. I stirred in some tamari and a few dashes of Frank's hot sauce. Next, I thought I'd try a new ingredient: almond oil. We got it from an Indian grocery store a few weeks ago, but hadn't tried it yet. Today I got up the nerve. It was mild and almost sweet — lovely tossed among the veggies.
Ten minutes in the air fryer, and we had a fantastic rustic keto side dish to go with our keto rotisserie chicken.
Best Keto Side Dish for the Air Fryer
- 1 1/2 cups zucchini, or any summer squash, sliced
- 1 cup leeks or onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup bell peppers, sliced
- Any combination of any veggies instead of or as well as those listed here
- 2 tablespoons good quality tamari soy sauce
- A few dashes of hot sauce
- Optionally add 1/2 teaspoon or so seasoning blend
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup almond oil (or any healthy, natural oil, like ghee, coconut, olive, or avocado).
- Preheat air fryer to 360 F.
- Place the veggies in a large bowl.
- Add the soy sauce and hot sauce.
- Toss all together.
- Add the oil, and toss together.
- Put all into the air fryer basket.
- Air fry about 10 minutes. Check now and then. Stir if you need to keep it from scorching. Make a note if you need to cook a little longer or shorter in your particular air fryer.
- Remove to a serving dish, or serve it right out.
Extra tip: add hot sauce again after you remove the veggies from the air fryer. That way you'll get more flavors: the cooked and the uncooked hot sauce will have slightly different qualities.
A squeeze of lime tableside is always nice to brighten a dish, too.
Enjoy your meal!