A dozen ingredients tossed in a refreshing lemon-basil dressing is what makes Ruth’s Chris’s signature salad taste so great, but the presentation of this dish is what brings out the “Wows.” Now you can make a tower of salad just like the one at this fancy steakhouse chain after you track down some 3-inch PVC pipe at your local home improvement store. Saw a 4-inch length off the pipe and use sandpaper to smooth the edges, then find a glass or bottle with a flat bottom to use as a press. Once you prepare the dressing and crispy onions, and chop and toss the other ingredients, you can use this inexpensive mold to create your hacked salad masterpiece.

½ cup mayonnaise
2½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground black pepper

4 cups canola oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces (4 cups) chopped iceberg lettuce
1 ounce (1 cup) chopped radicchio
½ ounce (¼ cup) julienned spinach
2 ounces (1 cup) sliced red onion
1½ ounces (1 cup) sliced white mushrooms
1 ounce (¾ cup) small croutons (classic cut)
2 ounces (½ cup) sliced hearts of palm
2 ounces (½ cup) chopped hard-cooked egg
2 ounces (½ cup) bleu cheese crumbles
1½ ounces (⅓ cup) diced cooked bacon (from 4 to 5 slices)
1 ounce (¼ cup) chopped canned green olives with pimientos

6 grape tomatoes

Cooking method

1-Make the mold for your salads by cutting a 4-inch-long section off of 3-inch-diameter PVC pipe. Sand the ends of the pipe to smooth it and then give it a good wash.

2-Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill until needed. The dressing is best when it rests for several hours, or even overnight.

3-Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Make the crispy onions by tossing the sliced onion with the flour in a medium bowl. When the oil is hot, cook a handful of breaded onion slices at a time in the oil and fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on one side, then flip them and fry for 1 to 2 more minutes. Set the crispy onions aside when done, but do not cover them.

4-About 30 minutes before you plan to serve the salad, place the serving plates in your freezer.

5-When you are ready to assemble the salad, toss all of the salad ingredients (but not the crispy onions) in a large bowl, then pour on the dressing and toss gently with tongs.

6-Prepare each serving by dropping one-quarter of the salad into the PVC pipe mold on a cold serving plate. Press down semi-firmly on the salad with the bottom of a round glass or bottle that fits into the pipe mold. Do not press too hard or you will squeeze the dressing out of the salad, and that’s not cool.

7-Place one-quarter of the crispy onions on the salad and use the glass again to press down onto the salad gently as you lift up the pipe mold.

8-Slice the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise and arrange three in a row on each plate before serving.

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