By Carrie Weldy
Not familiar with palak paneer? This Indian dish is typically made with cheese (paneer) and a thick, spiced spinach sauce. We’ve taken the cholesterol and hormones out (aka the paneer) and substituted it with protein-rich tofu for a dairy-free take on this popular recipe. The tofu is seasoned and seared for a crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside mouthfeel, and the rich spinach sauce adds a silky texture and robust flavor. No one will miss the cheese. This meal comes together in under thirty minutes, making it a solid weeknight option. If you’re cooking for kids, be sure to de-seed the jalapeno if their spice tolerance isn’t as adventurous as your own.
For the Tofu Paneer:
1-15 oz package of extra firm tofu
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Salt and pepper
For the sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
6 cups spinach
2 cloves garlic
1 small jalapeno
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
½ cup water
salt & pepper to taste (start with about ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper)
Juice from ½ a lemon
1. Drain the tofu, then wrap in a clean towel and set something heavy on top for at least 15 minutes. Alternatively, use a tofu press (this helps remove any extra water).
2. Cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a medium cast iron skillet (or skillet of choice) over medium heat. Once hot, add the tofu and sauté for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides.
4. While the tofu is sautéing, prepare the sauce: add all the sauce ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
5. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the tofu and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water or vegetable broth if it seems too thick. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
6. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, potatoes, or zucchini noodles. Bulk up your bowl with extra veggies if desired.