OK, so this isn’t really palak paneer in its most traditional sense. I happen to have a great Indian food crock pot book called The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla, so that is a great modern convenience. Secondly, I’m not making the homemade cheese (the paneer). Instead I’m throwing in cubes of firm tofu to give me my needed protein for a balanced meal.
One of the reasons I love this dish is that it’s very different from what I’m usually cooking. I’m no vegetarian, but it is nice (and cheaper) to make some meat-free options throughout the week and it also gets me a healthy portion of veggies into my diet. Ingredients such as spinach, turmeric, tomatoes, garlic and ginger have all been linked with good health. There is also no added fat!
But my favorite part about this recipe is that it makes a large batch that you can portion out and freeze for those days when you need to bring your lunch to work or have just enough time to heat something up for dinner. Tuesday nights I only have about an hour to eat and grab my skate bag between work and practice. These kinds of recipes keep me on time for practice and fueled for 2 hours of skating.
A slow cooker
2 lbs fresh spinach, washed
2 large onions, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, quartered
4 inches of ginger, peeled and chopped
20 (yes, 20!) cloves of garlic, peeled
5-10 Thai chiles depending on how spicy you want it
4 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs red chili powder
1 Tbs garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbs salt
- Throw everything into the slow cooker, except for the salt. The spinach will give off a lot of liquid, so even though you might not be able to fit the lid on everything will end up cooking down.
- Cook on High for 3 hours, stirring occasionally to push down the spinach leaves.
- Transfer the cooked-down veggies into a food processor or blender. If using one of these, do use a tea towel to cover the hole in the lid. Never blend hot stuff in your blender with the lid sealed… Unless you enjoy cleaning. If you have an immersion blender, feel free to use that Fancy Pants. Puree until you have a nice, smooth consistency. Pour back into the slow cooker.
- Add the salt and continue cooking the puree on Low for another 2 hours.
- Add your cubes of tofu when you’re ready to serve. This is best served over a bowl of basmati rice or quinoa, millet, or other grain.