We are getting lots of greens in our CSA share of late, here is a great way to use lots of those greens up.
Saag is a quick easy one dish meal or side dish. It travels well and is good warm or at room temperature. Saag is usually made with spinach, but you can use any green. I actually think saag means ‘leafy green’, so use kale or chard, or turnip greens-use what you have! You can make it luxuriously rich making it with cream, or vegan by using coconut, or any plant based milk like almond or soy. If you don’t have or like paneer sub, tofu, garbanzo beans, cubed potatoes, cauliflower or just make saag and let it stand alone.
Basically you cook some garlic and onions and ginger in a pan and add some Indian spices, then add a TON of finely chopped greens to that pan. When the greens have wilted down you add the liquid you like and cook that to a creamy texture. Sometimes I use an immersion blender or a regular blender to get a really smooth texture, other times I leave it a little choppy.
I pretty much followed the recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I like that she uses weights for the spinach. I’ll note the changes I made in parentheses.
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach, well washed and dried (I used collards and chard)
- 2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter, or unsalted butter
- 8 – 12 oz paneer cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped (I used a mix of our CSA green garlic, leeks and scallions)
- scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (see my note above)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I used two tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon spice mixture* see below (I used a premix Indian spice)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup buttermilk (I used a mix of butter milk and yogurt because I didn’t have enough of either. Feel free to use coconut milk, or a plant based milk. )
- splash of cream or dollop of plain yogurt (I like it with a splash of cream)
- fresh lemon to finish, and toasted sesame seeds to sprinkle
Chop the spinach well, and set aside in a large bowl.
While you’re chopping spinach, cook the paneer in one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Make sure the paneer is in a single layer and use a spatula to flip it regularly so all sides get deeply brown. This typically takes 7 minutes or so. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Heat the other tablespoon of butter in your largest soup pot. Add the onions and salt, and saute until the onions soften up, five minutes or so. Add the garlic, ginger, spice mixture, and turmeric. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and nicely combined – a minute or two.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the spinach to the pan all at once, if possible. Cook, stirring all the while, until the spinach is collapsed and wilted, a couple of minutes. If you need to add the spinach in batches (adding more spinach as it collapses), that is fine too, just do it as quickly as possible.
Stir in the buttermilk and cream and heat gently while stirring. If the mixture seems dry, add more buttermilk a splash at a time (this rarely happens to me). Taste and add more salt if necessary and more red pepper flakes if you like. Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, stir in the paneer, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
This is my biggest mixing bowl full of a bunch of collards and a bunch of chard. Next photo is step #1 all chopped up and then the other ingredients assembled.
Step #3 and #5 look how much that cooks down.
The next two pictures are, first, where I left the saag chopped and second, where I used a blender to puree it. I prefer to puree it when I make it with more hefty greens like collards and kale. I cook it a little longer too and added an extra dollop of cream. It makes it a little less chewy.
If you don’t already have saag in your ‘easy meal’ repertoire I hope you give it a try.
Have a great week, see you at pickup.