Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Saag Paneer made with Tofu
Saag Paneer has always been a favorite of mine. I used to order it when we went out and made it at home. Back in the day I also used to make my own paneer. I have not made this dish since we became vegan. Today I decided it was time to make tofu version of my dish. For those of you that are Indian obviously my dish isn’t authentic. But I like the addition of the chewy sun dried tomatoes. I call this my Italian American version of saag and here is what I did:
Saag Paneer made with Tofu
1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, finely ground
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 jalapeno, stem removed and minced (remove the seeds and ribs if you don’t like heat)
1 lime, zested and juiced
¼ teaspoon turmeric
14 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into ½ to ¾ inch cubes
¼ cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
water necessary to make a thick cream-like consistency
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods, smacked with the side
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating so allicin can develop)
¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala or curry powder, or to taste
10 ounces frozen spinach (chopped not leaf)
6 sun-dried tomatoes, julienned (you can use peeled chopped tomatoes which would be more authentic)
Optional Garnish Ingredients:
A few fresh chopped cherry tomatoes (approx ¼ cup)
Combine the tofu ingredients (except the tofu) in your blender or food processor and process until it makes a paste. Combine the paste and tofu cubes in a well sealed container and toss to coat. Place tofu in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours but longer would be fine. Periodically turn the container over so all the tofu can absorb the flavors of the paste.
To make the cashew cream combine the raw cashews and lemon juice in your blender and process. Add as much water as is necessary to make a thick “cream-like” sauce. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the brown rice dissolve the turmeric in the oil with the pepper. The oil is used to dissolve the turmeric and make it more bioavailable. Piperine in the black pepper also increases the absorption of the turmeric. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and cook covered until the rice is done, approximately 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a ¼ or ½ sheet plan with parchment and place the drained tofu in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. Allow the tofu to cool until it releases easily from the pan and turn the cubes over and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until it reaches a texture you like. My husband likes a very firm tofu so that is reflected in my cooking time you can cook it less to more closely mimick paneer.
In a saucepan water sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Move the aromatics, garam masala to your blender and puree. Return the mixture to the saucepan and add the defrosted box of spinach and sun dried tomatoes and cook over low heat for 15 minutes to blend the flavors. You may need to add a little water to thin the sauce.
When you are ready to serve place the baked tofu in the sauce and stir to combine. I serve this in bowl with the rice on the bottom, topped with the sauce. I like to place the cashew cream in the top of the spinach sauce so that you can still see it prominently in the dish. Sometimes I will add a few chopped raw tomatoes to the top of the dish for color and a lime wedge for those that want it.
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 481.58
Calories From Fat (26%) - 125.92
Total Fat 15.06g
Saturated Fat - 1.9g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Potassium - 826.24mg
Total Carbohydrates - 69.67g
Fiber - 10.78g
Sugar - 4.37g
Protein - 24.58g
This really hit the spot tonight. Definitely different from what we get at the restaurants around here. But that is loaded with fat we don’t want. For those that haven’t had saag before it is a mild spinach dish and this version is also mild. I think it would also be good with red pepper flakes but that isn’t how I have seen it made in the past.
Each serving of this dish contains approximately 11,500IU of vitamin A, 480mg of calcium, 8mg of iron, 170mcg of folate, 520mcg of vitamin K, 505mg of phosphorus, 270mg of magnesium, and 30mcg of selenium. A nice nutrition punch if I do say so myself. I also like that it has more than 10g or fiber and 24g of protein.
As those of you know that have been reading a long time my best friend in college was from Madras. I learned a lot about Indian food from her family. It was the first cuisine I learned to cook after Italian. It has remained a favorite of mine for 30 years. Wow, it is hard to believe it has been that long. Time sure flies when you are having fun. ;-)
Tomorrow my hubby is taking the day off so I will be busy with him most of the day. Of course I will make dinner and will get that posted. But I will be mobile most of day so I may not be as chatty in my responses.
I hope all are all having a great week so far. I will talk to you tomorrow.