Arugula Salad & Balsamic Vinaigrette

This keto arugula and balsamic salad is super fresh and crisp, with gluten-free and nutrient rich pockets of crunch from the pepitas, black sesame seeds and colorful red peppers and onions.

It’s a healthy, quick and easy to make salad, absolutely delicious and it looks just wonderful with all those popping colors!

Keto arugula salad with balsamic dressing, held in improvised double spoon tongs.

Serving suggestions

Because of its ultra fresh and zippy taste, thanks to the lime juice and the peppery bite of the wild arugula, this keto salad is a great accompaniment for fatty red meat!

It’s the perfect salad to serve alongside some nice roast beef, barbecue, or juicy keto burgers. It also pairs well with even heartier mains, like pan fried chicken heartssee what I did here?

The ingredients

Arugula salad

Ingredients for the keto arugula salad, inside a large white bowl.
The salad ingredients, before adding the balsamic vinaigrette

Wild arugula – also know as salad rocket, this leafy green veggie tastes a bit peppery and it’s a staple of Italian cuisine, where it’s called rucola. It’s so good that in Italy they even use it as pizza topping, without ruining the pizza 😄

Red onion – I simply adore onions (and garlic!) and it would be very hard to live this keto life if I believed that they are “not keto”. Moderation is key, and while a full-on french onion soup might not be such a good idea on keto, adding some thinly sliced, crunchy raw onion to your salad is not going to turn it into a carb fest.

Red bell pepper – This colorful veggie adds a delicate sweetness to this fresh keto salad. Like onions, sweet bell peppers can totally be enjoyed on a keto diet – according to the USDA website, 100 grams of red bell peppers contains only 6.3 grams of total carbs, from which 2.1 are dietary fiber and 4.2 are sugars. Not too shabby!

Black sesame seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – These delicious, nutrient rich seeds add a boost of flavor and a dramatic touch of color that will make this otherwise simple salad really pop!

Colorful arugula salad with red onions and red peppers.

Keto balsamic vinaigrette

Extra virgin olive oil – it’s just the best! And did you know that scientists proclaim that you need to add olive oil to your salad? But you can totally ignore them (and me) and just use any other healthy oil with a flavor that you really like, like avocado or walnut.

Balsamic vinegar – Although higher in carbs than other types of vinegar, balsamic vinegar has a distinct, wonderful taste that just can’t be replaced. The whole salad takes only 3 tablespoons, but still try to get a no-sugar added balsamic vinegar, to keep the carbs as low as possible without compromising on flavor.

Lime juice – The tangy citrusy taste cuts the oil and contrasts with the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar. Freshly squeezed, it’s worth the effort!

Salt, black and white peppers – I suggested quantities but be sure to taste and adjust to your liking. I like to use freshly ground peppercorns, not powdered. They have much better, fresher taste and you can grind them coarser, which adds a delicious texture.

Colorful arugula salad with pepitas and black sesame, red onion and pepper.

Choosing a keto friendly balsamic

There’s a lot of balsamic products out there, from the real deal, ultra fancy Modena balsamic made exclusively of pure grape must to some cheap concoctions of vinegar with high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring – eww.

I wouldn’t waste the fancy (and expensive!) stuff on a salad, as it would be best savored by itself (or as cheese or ice cream topping 🤤) and not in a vinaigrette. I suggest you take the middle path. Get a high quality balsamic vinegar that is a mix of grape must and red wine vinegar instead.

How to make

Step by step photos of how to make the keto balsamic vinaigrette.

Slice the red onion and the bell pepper as thinly as you can, then add with the other salad ingredients to a very large bowl – so you can toss them around later with abandon.

For the balsamic dressing, you just need to briskly whisk together all the ingredients until combined, just by hand with a large whisk is fine.

Add the keto vinaigrette to the salad just before serving. If the mixture separates, whisk again before drizzling onto the salad.

Making ahead and storage

You can make the keto arugula salad ahead, but do not mix it with the balsamic vinaigrette until it’s time to serve. Keep the salad ingredients and the vinaigrette in the fridge in separated, covered containers.

The salad veggies will keep crisp for about 3 days, and the vinaigrette keeps for up to a week. If you have leftovers after serving the salad, it will still be good to eat on the next day. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for freshness.


Colorful arugula salad with red onions and red peppers.

Keto Colorful Arugula Salad And Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yield: 2 large or 4 side salads
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This fresh and colorful low-carb arugula salad is crunchy without croutons, so also gluten-free! Enjoy with a wonderful, sweet and tangy keto balsamic vinegar dressing.

Ingredients

Arugula salad

Balsamic vinaigrette

  • 50 grams (~4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 45 grams (~3 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar
  • 30 grams (~2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Instructions

    1. Assemble the salad: finely slice the red bell pepper and the red onion, and add to a large bowl with the arugula, pumpkin seeds and black sesame seeds.
    2. Prepare the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, add all the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until fully blended.
    3. Before serving, quickly mix the vinaigrette (if it separated) and drizzle on top of the salad, then toss to combine.

Notes

See post for tips on choosing the right balsamic vinegar and how to store the salad to keep it fresh.

Nutritional information shows the salad plus vinaigrette. If you want to add a different dressing, the nutrition for one serving of the salad only is: Calories: 97 Total Fat: 6.7 grams Carbohydrates: 5 grams Fiber: 1.9 grams Sugar: 2.8 grams Protein: 4.2 grams Net Carbs: 3.2 grams

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 228Total Fat: 20.3gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 7.2gNet Carbohydrates: 5.3gFiber: 1.9gSugar: 4.7gProtein: 4.2g

Nutrition information is provided as a guideline only. Different brands of ingredients may have different nutrition facts. If tracking macros, remake the calculations using the nutrition facts from the labels of the ingredients you selected. Net carbs calculated exclude carbs from insoluble fiber and sugar alcohols.

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