Swapping tofu for cheese is an easy way to turn Palak Paneer into a plant-based favorite.
Today, we’re on to Indian recipe #4: Vegan Palak Paneer!
To be honest, the first time I ever had palak paneer I thought it was made with tofu. I found out later that the ‘paneer’ part is, of course, referring to paneer cheese. Who knew, right?
I don’t follow a strict vegan diet, so why did I bother making this with tofu instead of paneer?
Well, first of all, paneer is kind of hard for me to come by. I live in the town of Boring, Oregon (yes, it’s a real place), and they don’t sell a lot of Indian cheese at my local grocery store.
Second, I just happen to love tofu. It’s high in protein, low in fat, and perfectly suited to soaking up a delicious sauce.
I’ve been partnering with House Foods this year, which has been pretty awesome for me as a tofu-lover.
Seeing as I *always* forget to press my tofu, I used my favorite hack of using boiling water to expel the excess moisture.
Tofu, in it’s normal state, doesn’t have a very cheese-like flavor. I decided to take the advice of Marc at No Recipes and marinate the tofu in a mixture of nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt.
This really helped the tofu taste more like paneer, but if you’re in a hurry you can absolutely skip that step. Especially if, like me, you thought this dish was made with tofu all along.
If you decide to go the marinating route, make sure you plan ahead for the extra time. If you skip it, just rinse the tofu with boiling water and proceed to step two.
The rest of the vegan paneer recipe is super quick and easy: just chuck some ingredients in a blender, then transfer the puree to a pan and let it simmer.
Make sure you put your basmati rice on to cook before you get started. Palak paneer comes together really quickly once you get started!
Here’s the Recipe!
For the Tofu "Paneer"
- 7 ounces House Foods Organic Firm Tofu (half a package), cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Palak
- 2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
- 1/3 cup water
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger root, roughly chopped
- 1 small green chili, stemmed and seeded (serrano for spicy, jalapeno for more mild)
- 1 medium tomato, quartered
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk for serving (optional)
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place the sliced tofu in a strainer set over a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over the top of the tofu. Discard the water, transfer the tofu to a plastic freezer bag and add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt. Toss the tofu around to coat in the yeast mixture, then press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate up to 3 days, or overnight at minimum.
- When ready to prepare, place the spinach, water, garlic, ginger, green chili, tomato, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a large blender. Process until pureed. Set aside.
- Drain the marinated tofu. Heat the tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, cayenne, and drained tofu. Toss well and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Pour the spinach mixture into the pan; stir well, cover the pan, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the garlic has lost its raw bite. Taste and add salt as needed.
- Transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with coconut milk, if desired. Serve hot with plenty of basmati rice and naan.
Amount Per ServingCalories 148 Total Fat 11g Carbohydrates 2g Protein 10g
THANK YOU, House Foods, for supporting The Wanderlust Kitchen by sponsoring this vegan palak paneer recipe!