Arugula Salad with Apples, Bleu Cheese & Pancetta

Perfect timing over at the cooking club…Apples and a fresh fall salad inspired by Ina Garden. This great salad is quite adaptable according to your taste in cheese, bacon or pancetta, as well as dried fruit selections…try using pecan, walnut and a new choice hazelnuts. The dressing is spiked with orange juice/zest and maple syrup the spiked version of maple syrup found at Walmart.

Find Ina’s recipe link below and make your favorite changes or make as is keeping in mind that some dressing over the cut apples will keep them from turning brown so make ahead is possible.

8 ounces thick-cut bacon or cubed pancetta

8 ounces baby arugula

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced

½ cup toasted walnut or pecan halves, coarsely chopped

½ cup dried cranberries or mixed dried fruit

6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled

  • For the dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons good apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and lay the bacon slices on the rack. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Allow to cool. If using pancetta just crisp up in a sauté pan. I like to slowly crisp over med low or low heat.

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese.

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1½ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Chop the bacon in large pieces and add it to the salad. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and toss well. Serve immediately.