Full belly kale Caesar

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Full belly kale Caesar

Right inside the entrance to Monterey Market in Berkeley is a big table of vegetables from Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley. I visited this farm this a number of years ago. The 100 or so acres are nestled on the valley floor next to a creek. The morning light on the hills to the west is amazing.

For the past six years I've been on the board of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers where I've had the great privilege to work with Judith Redmond, one of the Full Belly farmers. Not only is she a committed advocate for family farmers on the CAFF board, she grows some of the best organic fruits and vegetables. Her kale spoke to me - particularly since I had just read a recipe for Kale Caesar in the Bi-Rite Market Cookbook.

I am no food photographer and not real big on "staging" but, boy, was this good.

Servings: 6


  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced and then mashed into a paste
  • 1 egg yolk or 2 tablespoons egg substitute if you don’t like the idea of using raw eggs
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced or a heaping teaspoon of anchovy paste
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Homemade croutons optional


  1. Cut the toughest part of the ribs out of the kale leaves. Stack 6 to 8 of them at a time, roll them into sort of a fat cigar shape, then slice them into 1/2 inch slices. Sharpening your chef’s knife before doing this is a huge help. 
  2. Wash and dry all the kale strips in a salad spinner. 
  3. Peel, mince and then mash the garlic cloves into a paste.  
  4. Add a little kosher salt to the leading edge of your pile of garlic. Lay the sharp edge of your chef’s knife across the leading edge. Push down hard with the 3 fingers of your non-knife hand and pull the knife back toward you mashing it down into the cutting board. Get a little more garlic under the blade and do it again. Repeat until the pile is mashed. When you get good at this, you mash the garlic toward you then sweep it back into a pile with the dull edge of the knife. You only need about a teaspoon of mashed garlic. 
  5. Whisk the garlic, egg yolk, or substitute, anchovy, Dijon, and lemon juice in a small bowl.  
  6. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.  
  7. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste and add more lemon juice if needed. 
  8. Toss the kale leaves with the dressing and the grated cheese. If this sits for a few minutes before serving, the acid of the lemon juice tenderizes the kale a bit.  
  9. Caesar salads are not all about "romaines of the day" anymore.