Combine the sweet and salty whole baked apple stuffed with bacon and shallots with the peppery notes of arugula leaves and red cabbage. Transform an otherwise simple salad with a bit of imagination and fun!
Why You’ll Love Whole Baked Apple Arugula Salad
Apple and arugula are one of those pairings that work incredibly well as the sweetness from the fruit balances out the peppery and bitter notes of the arugula or rocket leaves.
At the same time, bacon and apple also goes well together for those sweet and salty notes. So why not combine them all together?
But I didn’t just want to slice the apples into matchsticks, add bacon bits and just toss all the ingredients together. To add an element of wow, I decided to bake the apples stuffed with fried bacon and caramelised shallots and drizzle them with a honey lemon salad dressing.
They turned out beautifully, and the flavours all combined so well. Every mouthful was singing with all sorts of tasty treats and textures.
What Is Arugula?
Arugula is a green leafy vegetable that originated in the Mediterranean region. It is an ancient plant cultivated in the wild until it became so popular as a salad staple.
This highly nutritious cruciferous vegetable is in the same family as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and broccoli.
It has elongated leaves that are tender and has a crisp stem. You’ll find arugula is eaten raw in most cases, of which you can buy them on their own or can usually be found in a salad leaf mix.
What Does Arugula Taste Like?
The best word to describe the taste of arugula is peppery. It is sometimes also described as having a spicy flavour with nutty and bitter undertones.
Its distinctive taste causes a great divide with people either loving or hating it. I class arugula in the same category as Brussel sprouts. It takes some time to adjust to that palate.
Much like most of the vegetables with a strong bite, they mellow tremendously when they go through the cooking process.
Arugula Vs Rocket
Many people have wondered if arugula is the same as rocket. They are one and the same thing. In Australia, we call them rocket, while many countries in the Northern Hemisphere call them arugula.
They are also known by many other names such as rucola, rugola, roquette, salad rocket and Mediterranean rocket.
Best Apples for Baking
Much like there are specific potatoes best for mashing or roasting, this also applies to apples. Not all apples are created equal.
Should you wish for the apple to hold its structure after putting it through a baking process, it is important to pick the right ones.
Some apples are unable to stay intact and will become too soft. If you’re making jam, puree, or don’t need to stay in one piece, certain types of apples will do better than others.
For this recipe, we are slicing the apple crossway, assembling it back to a whole and then stuffing it. Picking the right apple to ensure this doesn’t fall apart is therefore important.
Granny Smiths are the most popular apples for apple pies. While they are crisp enough and will pass the baking test with flying colours, I felt that it wouldn’t be sweet enough for this recipe but perfect for our Wombok, Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw.
My go-to apple is the Pink Lady, also known as Cripps Pink. Consistently crisp and sweet, it is also always consistent in shape and size. It held up perfectly for what I needed it to do. Some other apples that will also do well include Mutsu, Winesap, Braeburn, Fuji, Jazz and Honeycrisps.
If you find you always have an abundance of apples, here are some great tips on how to store apples long term.
Flavour/Texture: There is quite a lot going on in this salad. From a flavour perspective, we have sweet apples stuffed with caramelised shallots and salty bacon bits. That on its own is a flavour bomb.
Serve it on a bed of peppery arugula, crunchy red cabbage and fresh tart pomegranate to create a salad that works incredibly well with the stuffed baked apples.
From a texture perspective, the apples mellow beautifully, softening enough to cut through easily while housing delicious bacon and shallots.
The cabbage and pomegranate give crunch, while the pine nuts have a nice buttery finish.
Ease: There is a little to do with this salad with a few components needing some care, but the effort is truly worth it.
Follow the instructions carefully when it comes to coring and slicing the apples. This step is perhaps the most challenging if you’ve not done it before.
Time: This salad does take a bit of time to put together; however, the majority of the time are the apples baking away in the oven.
Maximise your time by preparing the rest of the ingredients while that is baking.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Whole Baked Apple Arugula Salad:
Bacon: Don’t get bacon that is too fatty. If you can’t find a leaner cut, opt for shortcuts instead. If you love bacon, feel free to add more!
Shallot: A small shallot will be enough for this recipe. It will give the salad a little bite to counteract the saltiness from the bacon and sweetness from the apple.
Red apples: Get sweet and crisp apples that will withstand the baking process and keep their shape. Floury apples won’t give you the texture you need, while the likes of Granny Smiths are too tart.
Arugula: This peppery leaf is fantastic for creating a base and giving the recipe a sharp flavour.
Pine nuts: Nothing quite like toasted pine nuts tossed through a salad. Pine nuts have a mild and sweet flavour with a slightly buttery texture.
Pomegranate: These arils provide the tart yet sweet pops of crunch amidst the peppery arugula and salty bacon. It will also add much freshness to the salad. Just as we have with our Pomegranate Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts or Pomegranate, Barley and Freekeh Salad.
Red cabbage: Mixed through with the arugula to create a lovely blend of raw vegetables for the baked apples to sit on.
Variations and Substitutions
Vegan version: Omit the bacon entirely or use vegan bacon. You can use the seitan version of even the tofu version marinated in soy to give the much needed saltiness.
Replace honey with maple syrup or organic rice malt syrup.
Green cabbage: You can certainly use green cabbage for this recipe if you’re unable to find red cabbage.
Cabbage substitute: You can substitute cabbage with kohlrabi or Brussels sprouts. These vegetables will still give the salad crunch and will work well with the arugula.
Arugula substitute: If you don’t like arugula, you can try watercress or purslane. You do need some peppery notes to complement the sweetness from the apple and the saltiness from the bacon.
Or, to tame the sharp taste of arugula, you can mix it with some other leaves such as baby spinach, romaine, frisee, mizuna and tatsoi.
Dried fruit: Dried pomegranate or cranberries would work well if pomegranates are not in season.
Step by step instructions for how to make Whole Baked Apple Arugula Salad:
How to Bake Whole Apples
Preheat the oven at 180°C or 350°F.
Remove the bacon rind and cut into small pieces.
Peel and slice shallots thinly.
On medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a small fry pan. Fry bacon and shallots for 5 minutes or until medium brown. Set aside.
Using an apple corer, remove the core. Set mandoline at 3 cm thickness and slice the apple. After slicing each apple, put the slices back to resemble a whole apple.
Baste ½ tbsp of olive oil in a ceramic baking dish. Stuff each apple with bacon and shallots and bake at 180°C or 350°F for 30 minutes.
How To Make The Rest Of The Salad
Wash and dry arugula.
In a small fry pan, dry toast pine nuts until golden brown.
Slice red cabbage thinly.
How to Make Honey Lemon Dressing
In a small mixing bowl, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and the juice of ¼ lemon.
Mix until well combined.
How To Assemble The Salad
In a medium size mixing bowl, add arugula, red cabbage, ½ pine nuts and ½ the pomegranate seeds.
Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix until well combined.
Place the salad onto a large platter.
Put the whole baked apples on top.
Sprinkle the rest of the pine nuts and pomegranate on top.
Drizzle the dressing on top of the apples.
Season with cracked pepper to taste.
Great Mains For This Salad
Apples are great for so many different mains. Check out these recipes to pair up with our Whole Baked Apple Arugula Salad:
Oven-baked Tomahawk pork chops are fantastic and you can go wrong with apples and pork! With the bone still on the meat, and a thicker, fattier piece of meat, the tomahawk pork chop wins every award for juiciness and flavour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can, although the balance of the sliced baked apples could be a bit precarious.
Either you’d have to hold it very tightly while you’re in transportation, or you can assemble it at the destination.
Ideally, you would want the apples to be served warm, but it’s not necessary. You could wrap each stuffed apple in aluminium foil when it has cooled down and then place them on the platter when it’s time to eat.
It won’t hold for too long, so if you’re attending a party at 3 pm, but you won’t be serving up the salad until dinner time, this may not be the perfect recipe for you.
If you have a vegetable peeler with a pointed end, you can use it to core a whole apple. The peeler should have a long vertical blade, and the plastic behind it shouldn’t be too thick.
Place the peeler on the stem of the apple and towards the centre of the core. Push the peeler down, and then pull it back out. Turn the apple and do it again until you create a circle. It won’t be as clean as an apple corer, but it will do the trick.
You can also just use a small paring knife. Cut straight down, remove, turn the apple and cut down again until you get all sides of the core.
The best way to slice whole apples would be to use a mandoline. Set it to the level of thickness you would like and start shaving. You’ll find that the slices will come out evenly.
If you have good knife skills, you can slice them by hand. It is a bit tricky because the apple is round, and it can’t lay flat on the chopping board, so it’s susceptible to movement. So do be careful if you’re going to cut freehand.
As we have been saying all along, not all salads are created equal. A little bit of imagination can transform a very simple salad into a spectacular dish.
The whole baked apple presents so beautifully on the bed of leaves with pops of colour from the pomegranate arils and red cabbage. Taste wise, it’s a goodie!
More Winter Salad Recipes
Whole Baked Apple Arugula Salad
- 1 bacon, rasher
- 1 shallot
- 4 red apple
- 40 g arugula, (rocket leaves)
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- ½ pomegranate
- ¼ red cabbage
- 2½ tbsp olive oil
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Preheat the oven at 180°C or 350°F.
- Remove the bacon rind and cut into small pieces.
- Peel and slice shallots thinly.
- On medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a small fry pan. Fry bacon and shallots for 5 minutes or until medium brown. Set aside.
- Using an apple corer, remove the core. Set mandoline at 3 cm thickness and slice the apple. After slicing each apple, put the slices back to resemble a whole apple.
- Baste ½ tbsp of olive oil in a ceramic baking dish. Stuff each apple with bacon and shallots and bake at 180°C or 350°F for 30 minutes.
- Wash and dry arugula.
- In a small fry pan, dry toast pine nuts until golden brown.
- De-seed pomegranate.
- Slice red cabbage thinly.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and the juice of ¼ lemon.
- Mix until well combined.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, add arugula, red cabbage. ½ pine nuts and ½ the pomegranate seeds.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix until well combined.
- Place the salad onto a large platter.
- Put the whole baked apples on top.
- Sprinkle the rest of the pine nuts and pomegranate on top.
- Drizzle the dressing on top of the apples.
- Season with cracked pepper to taste.
- For a vegan salad, omit the bacon or use vegan bacon. You can use the seitan version of even the tofu version marinated in soy to give the much needed saltiness. Replace honey with maple syrup or organic rice malt syrup.
- You can certainly use green cabbage for this recipe if you’re unable to find red cabbage.
- You can substitute cabbage with kohlrabi or Brussels sprouts.
- If you don’t like arugula, you can try watercress or purslane. You do need some peppery notes to complement the sweetness from the apple and saltiness from the bacon.
- Dried pomegranate or cranberries would work well if pomegranates are not in season.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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