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Bet you've never seen a chef's salad quite like *this* before.

Karla Walsh
March 11, 2021
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Portrait of Rachael Ray
Getty Images / Mike Coppola
| Credit: Getty Images / Mike Coppola

From pizza crust-based charcuterie spreads to noodle-stuffed peppers to a cozy French onion soup-risotto mashup, Rachael Ray keeps blowing our minds—and convincing us that her culinary creativity can go far beyond burgers and 30-Minute Meals. (Although we'll always be huge fans of those, too!)

On the latest episode of the Rachael Ray Show, the Food Network star, magazine creator and cookbook author shared a produce-packed, low-carb dinner idea that definitely caught our eye. She introduced it as a "statement salad," and whoa, is she right! Ray serves hers on a wooden board that looks at least 3 feet long, and the Ultimate Chef's Salad is designed to serve up to 8 adults.

It's been ages since many of us have entertained IRL, but we're seeing hope ahead: The CDC reports that nearly 19% of Americans have received at least one dose of one of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines, and about 10% are now fully vaccinated. We learned this week that if you are one of one in 10 Americans fully immunized, you can start gathering indoors with fellow fully vaccinated people–sans face masks as you might be when devouring this supersized salad—as well as with individuals from one unvaccinated household at a time who are at low-risk for serious complications from the virus.

That being said, Ray says that you can easily scale this salad up or down, depending on your expected dinner guest count … and your appetite!

"This would feed six to eight people, so you might want to make half of my statement salad," Ray suggests.

Begin by cooking 12 strips of bacon the signature Ray way: "Always in the oven," she says. "In a 400-degree oven until the bacon is nice and crisp. You don't have to flip it, it doesn't make a mess of your stove [and] it cooks evenly and perfectly. Put it on a wire rack," such as USA Pan Half Sheet Baking Pan and Metal Bakeable Nonstick Cooling Rack ($22.99, Amazon) and you're good to go. Once it's cooked and cooled, chop up the slices; they'll act as the star of one strip on the chef's salad.

While the bacon is cooking, stir together a simple homemade thousand island dressing. (Psst...we bet any of our top 10 vinaigrette recipes would also taste incredible drizzled atop this massive chef's salad!)

"Start with sour cream or Greek yogurt, your choice," Ray says, explaining how to make her homemade creamy dressing. (We suggest Greek yogurt for a bonus protein boost.) "Then we add a splash of vinegar to thin it out a bit." Try apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or white distilled vinegar, Ray explains, "whatever you have in the pantry." Then squeeze in ketchup (she uses Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup; $3.19 for 14 ounces, Target), add a splash of Worcestershire sauce (Ray opts for Lea & Perrins Original Worcestershire Sauce; $3.39 for 5 ounces, Amazon), a few drops of mild cayenne pepper sauce like Frank's Red Hot Sauce Original ($2.99 for 12 ounces, Target), a couple big spoonfuls of pickle relish, a clove of grated garlic, a generous cup of fresh herbs plus smoked paprika, salt and pepper to season.

In addition to the bacon bits, Ray lines up her toppings: Homemade pickled onions, semi-dried or sliced fresh tomatoes, smoked blue cheese (which causes Ray to pause and rave, "Oh my god, yum!"), chopped hard-boiled eggs mixed with fresh scallions or chives thinly-sliced on a bias and coarsely chopped giardiniera.

Now it's time to build the foundation. To core the iceberg, Ray suggests knocking it on the counter, stem-side down, and the core should be easy to pop right out. Two giant heads of lettuce should serve six to eight, so repeat this twice and slice each head of lettuce into slabs. (If you're making a single serving, simply lie one or two of your slabs on your plate, and arrange the toppings in strips over the iceberg, she says. "That fills the center of a dinner plate.")

To fill a crowd-sized board, quarter the slabs to pile down the middle of a platter like this Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Large Wood Serving Tray ($19.99, Target). Scatter the dressing in dollops from edge to edge, "so that as we serve, everyone is getting some of that delicious, really ridiculously rich dressing," Ray says.

Large Wood Serving Tray - Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia
$19.99
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Target

Then load 'er up. Stack on strips in this order to score the best flavor pairings, according to Ray: giardiniera, sliced provolone, sliced rare roast beef, crumbled smoked blue cheese, the hard-boiled egg and scallion combo, sliced ham, sliced Swiss, your desired chopped tomatoes, sliced roast turkey and the chopped crispy bacon. Sprinkle the pickled onions as the last garnish over the full slab of salad, and you're all set to serve.

One fan read our minds and commented on Instagram: "I'll take the whole board and a fork, please!" While another joked, "Wait wait wait...Can I Grubhub that to me? If not just put it in a box and overnight it."

Since that's probably not a possibility, score the Ultimate Chef's Salad recipe here to DIY, then keep the salad days going with our best 31 healthy salads to eat this month.