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Arugula, Fig and Walnut Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

4 servings

Many culinary traditions add bacon—or bacon bits, pancetta or lardons—to salads. Why not use some of the delicious fat in a salad dressing? It adds depth and a hit of salt to compliment the nuts and greens in this deceptively simple entrée.



  • 4 fresh figs or 8 dried prunes or apricots
  • 3 oz/80 g Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup/70 g walnut halves or pieces
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 8 cups/160 g arugula


  • 2 Tbsp rendered bacon fat
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Assemble, prepare and measure ingredients. Quarter figs lengthwise (or halve prunes or dried apricots lengthwise). Using a vegetable peeler or cheese pull, shave parmesan.
  2. Place walnut pieces in an ungreased skillet and toast over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until they release their nutty scent. Let cool in the pan.
  3. Fry bacon in a separate skillet over low heat for 15 minutes or until fat has rendered. Drain off and reserve fat. Dry and blot bacon with paper towel. Crumble bacon when it’s cool enough to handle.
  4. For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat with olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Whisk to emulsify, adding more olive oil or vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  5. For the salad, tip arugula into a large salad bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss gently but thoroughly. Distribute figs (or prunes or dried apricots), Parmesan, walnuts , and bacon evenly over top. Don’t toss salad again or the small pieces will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Serve soon after dressing salad.