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Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe Summary

active:
20 mins
total:
35 mins
Servings:
8
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The South may be known for fried chicken, mac and cheese, and biscuits, but our plates almost always include vegetables, too. Here’s our philosophy: If you’re going to eat healthy, why not make it a little indulgent? Let us introduce you to the most Southern salad you’ll ever meet: Arugula Salad with Bacon-Fat Croutons and Sherry Vinaigrette.

In this dish, which comes together in just around 30 minutes, peppery arugula meets sharp blue cheese, thinly sliced Honeycrisp apple, toasted pecans, and—the pièce de résistance—bacon fat croutons. For these decadent croutons, torn sourdough pieces get tossed in bacon drippings and oven-toasted. We love the tangy flavor and texture that sourdough bread gives these croutons, but you can use any leftover loaf. Tearing the bread rather than cutting it into cubes gives you lots of crags where the bacon fat can pool and crisp.

Homemade sherry dressing, spiked with honey and studded with shallots, takes this salad to the next level. If you don’t have sherry vinegar on hand, you can substitute your favorite type of vinegar—red or white wine, champagne, or balsamic vinegar would all work well. This hearty salad—which has quickly become a Test Kitchen favorite—could stand alone as a lunch or weeknight dinner, but we love serving it as part of a holiday brunch spread.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate, and set aside, reserving drippings in skillet. Remove skillet from heat. (Bacon can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Before using, place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, and microwave on HIGH until warm, about 10 seconds.)

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  • Place bread pieces in a large bowl. Pour bacon drippings from skillet over bread pieces in bowl; toss to coat. Transfer bread to an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer. 

  • Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool. (Croutons can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)

  • Whisk together vinegar, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until well combined. (Vinaigrette can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour; whisk before using.) 

  • Layer arugula, blue cheese, apple slices, pecans, croutons, and reserved bacon in a serving bowl or on a platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette just before serving.

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