This Cranberry Clementine Arugula Salad also includes butter-toasted pecans, candied bacon, ruby-red pomegranate seeds and a delicious Honey-Cider Poppy Seed Dressing. It makes a beautiful side for a dinner party and a fabulous whole meal salad with rotisserie or grilled chicken, shrimp, steak...
If you've got some entertaining coming up or you just want to make life a little healthier and more delicious, I suggest that you shake up a batch of this Honey-Cider Poppy Seed Dressing and keep the ingredients for this beautiful Cranberry Clementine Arugula Salad on hand.
A versatile, mix and match salad
I love that this salad is so versatile and can be easy enough to throw together on a busy day. The Honey-Cider Dressing (pictured below) will take less than 5 minutes to put together and you can keep the salad super simple with just arugula, sliced clementines, dried cranberries and some thinly sliced red onion. Or you can make it quite fancy and over-the-top-delicious by including the pomegranate arils (seeds), butter-toasted and candied bacon.
What is candied bacon?
Candied bacon? Yes! If you look up the definition of candied bacon, it's probably going to say something about bacon that's baked with a brown sugar coating until it's crisp and amazingly delicious. Actually, it probably will say something like "drop-dead delicious".
There are lots of different recipes for candied bacon. I use this Maple Mustard Candied Bacon for my Cranberry Clementine Arugula Salad. It can be made a few days in advance and then warmed a bit in the microwave or on the stovetop. Trust me, this salad will bring rave reviews when kept simple, but if you have the time to make the candied bacon, it takes this salad to nirvana status.
Honestly, the butter-toasted pecans almost make themselves. The easy technique simply involves melting a bit of butter in a small sauté pan, stirring in the pecans and then letting them slowly turn crisp and golden. Near the end, sprinkle on a little kosher salt. That's it!
I love the salty, crunchy buttery flavor these pecans add to the salad. Butter-toasted walnuts, pistachios or pine nuts would also be delicious in this salad if you don't care for pecans or don't have any on hand.
Don't be intimidated by pomegranates!
To me, pomegranates are the jewels of the late-fall, early-winter culinary season. They add a beautiful touch (and crunch) to so many dishes, including this Cranberry Clementine Arugula Salad.
I used to be super intimidated by pomegranates. The whole technique of removing the ruby red seeds from the pomegranate itself seemed too complicated and messy. If I really wanted to use this beautiful fruit in a recipe, I'd break the bank and buy the seeds (already removed) at the grocery store. Then I discovered an easy technique and was so thrilled with it that I wrote a post about it.
If you want to learn this super method, check out this post: The Easy Way to Remove Pomegranate Seeds. You too will no longer be intimidated by this delicious and healthy winter fruit! We also have a video to demonstrate the easy technique:
I've been making this Cranberry Clementine Arugula salad for several weeks now, ever since I first spotted clementines at the market. I've made it simple, fancy and in-between and we haven't grown tired of it. It's a delicious side with simple entreés like grilled chicken or roasted pork tenderloin and we also love it as a whole meal salad with a mound of shredded rotisserie chicken in the center.
I know this salad will be a holiday favorite around our table. I love that it's indulgent, yet decently healthy at the same time. Try it, I think you'll agree, it's a winner!
Café Tips for making this Cranberry Clementine Arugula Salad
- Larger grocery stores usually carry several different brands of arugula. Look the bags (or boxes) over carefully and choose one with the smallest, freshest leaves. Arugula with smaller leaves is sweeter and more tender.
- If you can't find pretty arugula, feel free to substitute baby spinach, field greens or even a curly leaved, red romaine for this salad.
- As I stated above, make this salad as simple or fancy as you have the time for. A pretty bowl of arugula with just the dried clementines, cranberries and a drizzle of the dressing is super delicious.
- Although this salad recipe has a number of components, it can easily be prepped ahead:
- The dressing can be made up to a week ahead. I usually make a double batch. Then I have plenty for quick, easy salads during the week as well as for entertaining.
- The bacon can be made a day or two in advance and warmed in the microwave or on the stovetop. See the candied bacon post for instructions on warming.
- Toast the pecans several days ahead. Allow them to cool completely then store in a zippered bag or small, air-tight storage container.
- De-seed your pomegranate arils and store them in the refrigerator. This can be done several days in advance too.
- Plump the dried cranberries early in the day and store them in a covered container.
- The clementines can be peeled, sliced and stored in the refrigerator several hours ahead.
- I love to serve this salad in a shallow white bowl like the ones below to show off the beautiful ingredients.
Thought for the day:
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
This Cranberry Clementine Arugula Salad also includes butter-toasted pecans, candied bacon, ruby-red pomegranate seeds and a delicious Honey-Cider Dressing.
- ⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon butter
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups baby arugula loosely packed
- 3 clementines peeled, halved and sliced in ¼-inch slices
- half a small red onion peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
- ⅓ cup pomegranate arils or seeds
Place the cranberries in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over and allow to soak for 3-5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the pecans and reduce heat to low. Cook on low for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until color turns a little deeper and nuts are fragrant. Sprinkle with the salt and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
Top with pomegranate arils, pecans and ¼-1/3 cup of candied bacon. Serve and enjoy!
See Café Tips above in post for further instructions and how to prep this salad ahead.
The nutritional information does not include the dressing or candied bacon. See those posts for that information.
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