Tofu Paneer Palak with Brown Rice

tofu

Mark and my favorite foods come from India. Maybe it’s because East Indians have been eating low on the food chain for a Very Long Time and so they are very good at combining spices and textures in ways that are extraordinary. Paneer is a soft, crumbly cheese, sometimes referred to as Farmer’s Cheese, that is served in many Indian, South Asia and Middle East cuisines. Palak means spinach, so Paneer Palak is a traditional dish that includes cheese cubes, spinach and a curried sauce. I’ve had it that way, but our daughter Sarah, always the adventurous cook, made the cheese cubes out of tofu, and they are amazing.

Her adventurous spirit inspires me to trust my culinary instincts for more than soups and breads. This Tofu Paneer Palak combines the seasonings for the spinach in her Paneer Palak Pizza recipe with several I found on line for preparing the tofu, and then my own blending of vegetables.

Tofu Paneer Palak with Brown Rice. Serves 4

Early in the day prepare the Tofu Paneer:

Ingredients (adapted from Vegetarian Food):
1 package extra firm tofu (drained and pressed–reserving 2 Tbsp. liquid)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. reserved liquid or water
1 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. curry powder

Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and place in 9×9 baking dish. Whisk ingredients, pour over tofu, stirring to coat. Cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

1 hour before serving begin brown rice or wild and brown rice blend.

Preheat oven to 350.

30 minutes before serving remove tofu from fridge, stir to re-coat and then jostle in the pan or otherwise separate tofu into a single layer. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until edges begin to brown.

Meanwhile heat 2 tsp. oil in pan and sauté 1 sliced leek until soft. Add 2 cloves garlic and 1 Tbsp. peeled and minced ginger and cook another minute. Add the following spices along with 2 Tbsp. water:

2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch of cayenne (or to taste)

Add 6 c. chopped fresh spinach and 1 c. fresh or frozen peas. Cover and cook until spinach wilts and peas are heated through. Add tofu to the spinach mixture and serve on top of rice.

If you want a fully traditional Indian meal think ahead and make Naan, and serve with a cucumber/yogurt salad, both of which help cut the heat if it gets to feeling too hot on the palate!

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