Saag Paneer – Spinach with Indian Cheese

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Photo credit: Gus the Great

On a lovely trip to my parents’ lake cabin in north Idaho this summer, my daughter and her beau made us this healthy, tasty, veg meal for dinner one evening. It was a hit!  Sarah Rose and Gus were inspired by Saag Paneer they’d eaten at Indian restaurants in Manhattan, so they developed this recipe at home.

Listen: Try Justin Townes Earle’s 2010 album, Harlem River Blues. As the heir to Townes Van Zandt’s name and Steve Earle’s music, Justin has a bluesy-country style with New York-inspired lyrics and a little rockabilly on this album.

Sip: Since we were in the Northwest, we enjoyed a 2015 Columbia Valley Pinot Gris from Maryhill’s Tudor Hills Vineyards. It’s bright and crisp – a refreshing complement to the curry.

This recipe serves 4 people as a main course and is easily adapted for a bigger crowd. It’s also a healthy, satisfying lunch that’s easily packed for work or school days.

1 large onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons neutral oil (more later for Paneer)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ginger, peeled, fresh, finely chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1.5 large bags of frozen spinach
1.5-2 blocks of Paneer cheese*
1-2 tablespoons neutral oil
brown rice if desired

*You may also make your own Paneer from scratch.

  1. Heat neutral oil and cook onions until browned. Add a little salt to hep the onions sweat.
  2. Once the onions are brown, add as much curry powder as you like.
  3. Add ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30-60 seconds.
  4. Toss in tomatoes and frozen spinach.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more curry powder as needed to your taste.
  6. Dice Paneer into 3/4″ cubes. Toss in a bowl with seasonings of choice, such as cumin, salt, and pepper.
  7. Heat oil in a sauté pan. Toss in cheese cubes and sauté until browned on all sides.
  8. Toss all ingredients together, season to taste, and serve. (Salt brings out the flavor of the curry pretty dramatically. Start with a little and add more as needed.)
  9. Serve alone or over brown rice if you wish.
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