We were traveling in the North Coast last week, and came back to a stark empty fridge. I was happy to return to my FM today and stock up my kitchen with fresh veggies, eggs, cheese, olives, and fruit. It’s also a special week- Satish’s birthday, and I plan to spoil him with food that he loves. Each birthday, I make him an elaborate brunch of all of his favorite things. The first year, I made goat cheese bruschetta, beets salad, mushroom omelets, and a few other things. This year, I am going for the “less is more” theme for brunch. Though, I am going to make a healthier version of Saag Paneer and Chicken Curry for the rest of the week. So off to the market I went with a specific grocery list (usually I just buy whatever appeals to me). Recipe follows.
Today, the fog lifted and it was a full 8 hours of bright sunlight.
Mango Peaches- Ken's Top Notch Produce CCOF
I took a pizza sauce making class recently and couldn't resists these perfect tomatoes. I am actually going to make a thick gravy for the Chicken Curry- Happy Boy Farms CCOF
The fig season is short-lived, so hurry get them fresh while you can!
Beets contain higher amounts of natural sugars, along with beta-carotene and deliciousness. Serendipity Farms CCOF
Other Farmer’s Market Finds:
-Spinach, heirloom tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, salad mix with edible flowers ($15.00)- Happy Boy Farms
-Mixed stone fruit ($5.00)- Ken’s Top Notch Produce
-Beets and strawberries ($5.25)- Serendipity Farms
-Dried olives and lemon ($4.50)- California Olive Farm
-Zucchini and one pint fresh salsa ($6.25)- Swank Farms
-1 large marigold ($0.50)- Hollie’s Homegrown
I will have to stop by Whole Foods to pick up eggs, yogurt, and chicken breasts later this week.
Healthier Saag Paneer
I have to note that paneer is not the healthiest food you can eat. Paneer is firm, mild Indian cheese. A three ounce serving contains 300 calories and 15 grams unsaturated fat. Though, paneer is also a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin A. It’s cheese, to be enjoyed in moderation on occasion. You can substitute the paneer for tofu. The paneer dishes often found in restaurants is made with a lot of heavy cream and ghee/butter, making it unhealthier. I took a traditional recipe found on multiple sites and substituted ghee for olive oil (and drastically reduced the amount) and heavy cream for yogurt. I like to make this dish once in every two months, and keep a block of paneer in my freezer. Paneer can be found in Indian grocery stores and sometimes Whole Foods. I don’t use a heavy hand on the spices and keep the flavors subtle, yet mouthwatering. The key is in the freshness of the spices and vegetables. Indian food isn’t so daunting or a time-consuming process if you have all the basic ingredients at home.
- 16 ounces paneer
- 2 lbs fresh or frozen spinach (fresh preferred)
- 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- Salt and red chili powder to taste
- 1 tbs cilantro/edible flowers for garnish (optional)
Simple Indian spices to have on hand: turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red chili powder, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and whole cloves. Store in an airtight container in the dark.
Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat, sautee onions until translucent, then add garlic, ginger, and spices. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes. The spices will brown and aroma will be pungent.
Liquefy washed/wet spinach and yogurt in the blender until it's smooth and creamy. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches. Gently pour into the pan of spices, stir well to blend the creamed spinach with spices. Simmer or medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Chop the paneer into bite sized pieces and gently fold into the spinach. This is a checkpoint for salt. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Just beforing turning off the stove, add the lemon juice.
Garnish and serve. Eat with roti, naan, flatbread, or rice. Eat slowly. :-)
The lemon juice is optional, but really helps to lift up all of the flavors without making the dish tangy. The marigold petals add a beautiful pop of color, sweet fragrance, and a taste that makes you want to go back for more. It’s unexpected, looks fancier than it really is and impresses. (Inspired by Hollie’s Homegrown). The flavors only become more intricate with time, so the Saag Paneer will taste even better the next day. Totally foodie moment: keep the cinnamon stick in the Saag Paneer and suck on it the next day. The flavors will be a sensual party in your mouth. Trust me.
What are your opinions on garnishes and edible flowers?