Green Day - Saag Paneer

We have so many greens. It's not enough that the Tantré box is packed with beets and greens -  seven kinds of greens by my count - like a fool I bought even more beets (I love them so). I now am compelled to eat beetgreens as well as beetroot by the bucketful. Plus, my mother-in-law drove overland to us last weekend, bringing spinach and lettuce and herbs (and rhubarb!) from her Iowa garden.  I am seriously considering the possibility of greens for breakfast. Greens on toast? It's dire. We can't go out to eat for fear that greens might go uneaten. 

But kitchen mastermind that I am, I used up at least half of our greens tonight (by volume) with a homemade version of one of our favorite restaurant dishes - Saag Paneer.  This creamy spinach and cheese dish is something we invariably order at Indian restaurants. I've been patting myself on the back all night over how easy and good it was. Plus, in India, depending on season and locale, it is apparently made with many other kinds of greens including fenugreek greens (whatever those are), collards, beet greens (yay!), escarole, and mustard greens. So I felt pretty good throwing in some beet greens and miscellaneous other greens that my SO tried to freeze by stuffing them into the (too cold) meat drawer.  Here's my version of Madhur Jaffrey's dish:

Saag Paneer

A 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3-6 cloves garlic, finally chopped (I went for 6)

1/2 to 1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped (I used a whole roasted jalapeno)

Paneer, cut in 1" pieces (I got a 12 oz. block, frozen, from Trader Joe and it was very good)


1/4 to 1/2 t. garam masala

4 T. vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds spinach (and other greens), washed well and very finely chopped

3 T. heavy cream

Heat 1-2 T. oil in a large wide preferably non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Put in all the pieces of paneer and fry them, turning them over gently with a spatula, until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove paneer and place on a plate in a single layer. Sprinkle paneer quickly with 1/8 t. salt and the garam masala. Set aside. 

Chop the ginger, garlic and hot chili together until almost a paste. Heat skillet again with another 1-2 T. oil and fry up this paste until the kitchen is well-fragranced but garlic is not browned. Put in the chopped greens and 1/2 t. salt. Stir around for 1 minute. Cover the pan, lower the heat and let the greens cook gently for 5-10 minutes, until soft. Add a little water if it seems dry - they should be a bit wettish.  Put in the paneer and cream. Stir gently and bring to a simmer. Cover, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.  Taste for salt.  

Serve with rice.  And rejoice that you've conquered another batch of greens, plus saved some money by not going out to eat. 

I also made that potato and onion dish with the black mustard seeds that goes inside of masala dosas, and also some sweet pickled cucumber. If I could have just had a mango lassi and a piece of barfi for dessert, I think I could open my own Indian restaurant. 

Now I just have to figure out what to do with those crazy Italian dandelion greens. Could Richard and Deb have planted those on purpose? 

Copyright 2011 - The Farmer's Marketer