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RECIPE: A Truly Vegetarian Caesar Salad with Kale and Marcona Almonds

By Emily Frost | October 20, 2015 8:01am | Updated on October 20, 2015 6:51pm
 This kale caesar is perfect for anchovy-haters and is packed with healthy ingredients.
Kale Caesar Without Anchovies
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Almost every Caesar salad has anchovies at the top of its ingredient list, making it a no-go for strict vegetarians, but this tangy option from an Upper West Side restaurant is a great exception.

The "bruised kale and Marcona Caesar" is the creation of chef Edwin Claflin of the 349 Amsterdam Ave. restaurant TESSA and it draws its savory quality from ingredients besides anchovies.

"This is a super tasty vegetarian salad that still has the great intensity of umami flavor from the mushroom soy, tamarind and parmesan without a fish-sauce base," said Claflin.

When mixed with French sea salt and pepper, the two types of kale — curly and Tuscan — are then "bruised" or softened so that the texture resembles cooked kale and is easier to eat. It also absorbs the flavor of the dressing better, he explained.

And inverting the plating of the salad helps keep it from getting overdressed and soggy. 

"We put our creamy almond milk Caesar dressing on the bottom and bruised greens on top, so with each bite you get fresh greens and creamy dressing and then put more garnishes on top," said Claflin. 

Almond Caesar Dressing


1 cup egg yolks
3 garlic cloves
1 pint almond milk
1 cup roasted Marcona almonds
3/4 cup lemon juice
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon Espelette pepper or Espelette jam (chili flakes or paprika can be substituted)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Grana Padano 


1. Add all the ingredients to a Vitamix or blender, except the olive oil and cheese.

2. Blend till smooth. 

3. Add the cheese and blend. 

4. Pour the olive oil in at a slow stream while the blender is running. 

Bruised Kale and Marcona Caesar
Serves Four


1 lemon (for juicing and zesting)
1 teaspoon salt
4 broad leaves of Tuscan kale
4 broad leaves of curly kale
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Almond Caesar dressing (see recipe above)
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
3-4 Marcona almonds for grating
1/2 cup focaccia breadcrumbs (or panko breadcrumbs or other type)


1. Separate the kale from its spine and rip into shreds and place in a large bowl

2. Zest the lemon with a microplane grater on top of the kale, add the lemon juice and salt and begin massaging the kale with your hands for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. 

4. Divide dressing among four plates, spreading evenly across the plate in a zig zag pattern. 

5. Place kale mix on top of the dressing on each of the four plates, then grate each plate with almonds.

6. Add breadcrumbs and top with shaved Parmesan.

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