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Saag Paneer is a traditional Indian dish consisting of fried Paneer cheese and creamy spinach. This low carb version is easy to prepare and packed with flavor. This is a vibrant dish that’s perfect as a side dish or vegetarian main course.
What is Paneer cheese?
Paneer is a fresh cheese made from curdled milk using fruit or citrus. Unlike other soft cheeses paneer doesn’t melt and can be pan fried or grilled. It has a very mild flavor and is often used in place of meat in many different Indian dishes. If you can’t find paneer you could substitute bread cheese, queso Blanco or Halloumi. Each of these cheeses will work but each ones texture and melt point is just a bit different.
For this recipe I marinate the cheese with avocado oil and curry powder. The curry adds those warm comforting spices that are commonly associated with Indian cuisine. The curry also gives the paneer cheese a beautiful golden color that is intensified when seared. After marinating the cheese in the fridge I sear the cheese in a nonstick pan immediately so that I can develop a golden crust on the cheese without melting the cheese.
Spinach: frozen or fresh??
This is a recipe where I feel like frozen is the better option. By all means use fresh but I imagine it will take about 10 cups of fresh spinach to end up with 2 cooked cups. That’s also gonna cost you about $10 in spinach as opposed to $3 in frozen spinach. When using frozen spinach you will need to thaw and squeeze all of the water out before cooking the spinach. If you use fresh spinach you will also need to squeeze out any liquid as well. Any excess liquid will leave you with a watery saag. And nobody likes a watery saag, am I right?
Saag Paneer vs creamed spinach
Though both dishes have similar ingredients the flavors are vastly different. Saag has distinctive spices and familiar Indian flavors thickened with yogurt. Creamed spinach is more saucy with butter and cream. Both dishes tend to not be the most photogenic but you can bring out some color using peppers and onions to not only add color but flavor as well. If you’re looking for a side dish to serve alongside a big juicy steak my Kale Rockefeller is a must try recipe.
Side or Main Course??
For me this recipe is a side dish. I don’t see myself sitting down to a big bowl of Saag Paneer. I think serving this with my Tandoori Lamb or other classic Indian dishes like butter chicken or tikka Masala. All that being said if you think this sounds like a main dish they by all means enjoy. I imagine this could be a great vegetarian option for your non meat eating friends and family. Whether it’s a side dish or a main course it’s definitely a great dish full of big flavors and packed with veggies. I always get questions about the All Clad Gratin Dishes so I included the highlighted link
- Cube paneer cheese into 1 inch cubes then toss with avocado oil and curry powder. Let marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Thinly slice bell peppers, onions and drain thawed spinach completely then rough chop into bite size pieces.
- In a nonstick or cast iron pan sear paneer cheese for about a minute on one side, flip once and sear on opposite side then remove from pan.
- Sauté onions, bell peppers and garlic. After lightly caramelized add spinach and garam masala.
- Fold in yogurt and heavy cream, check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Finally add paneer cheese back to the pan and heat until warm.
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