Vegan Palak Paneer With Cultured Nut Cheese
- 250g spinach
- 1 (+/-5cm long) green chili, deseeded
- 1/2 in or 1 cm ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, root removed
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 150 g)
- 1/2 cup cherry tomato, cut in 8ths (114 g)
- 1 clove garlic, minced, root removed
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 pinch asafoetida
- 1 tsp fenugreek
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 2 bay leaf
- ( to taste) salt
- 2 tbsp coconut cream
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup cultured vegan cheese
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 2 servings pasta
1. Prepare the spinach leaves. Cut off the stems, slice of any thick spines on the back of the leaves.
2. Bring a pot of water to very high (pre-boil).
3. Prepare an ice bath with loads of ice.
4. Blanch the spinach leaves in the hot water for 2 minutes.
5. Scoop them out in a colander, getting rid of as much water as possible.
6. Submerge in the ice bath. Move the leaves around so all the heat can dissipate.
7. This step is to help the spinach maintain a bright green color.
8. Once cooled, squeeze the leaves in your fists until all water is drained.
9. Next, blend to paste with green chili, ginger root and garlic. Set aside.
1. Heat oil, add cumin seeds, wait for them to sputter.
2. Add bay leaves and onion, sauté till translucent and fragrance breaks open.
3. Add garlic, stir for 30 seconds.
4. Add chopped cherry tomatoes and spices (fenugreek, asafoetida, tumeric, red chili powder)
5. Cook until tomatoes are soft.
6. Add pureed spinach, stir for about 1 minute.
7. Add water, stir again.
8. Add coconut cream. Stir.
9. Cook for a further 4 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
10. Add salt and garam masala.
11. Stir well. Turn the heat off. Put the lid on and let the garam masala infuse for 10 minutes without interfering.
This part depends on what kind of cheese you have. If you have vegan feta, that’s just perfect. Since I make my own cultured cheese with macadamia and cashew, the flavor profile is perfect for this dish. Your cheese should be cubed (1.5 cm cubes) and maintain its shape in the dish. If it’s a meltable cheese, that will not work well. It has to add a contrasting taste and texture to the dish.
I always cube mine then dehydrate each cube until the outside is crunchy but the inside is buttery soft. The amount of cheese you need depends on how much cheese you’d like to add to your dish. For these ratios, 1/2 cup will be more than enough.
Cook your favorite pasta after everything else has been prepared. Pasta should always be cooked only right before serving. After cooking and draining the pasta, mix 1 tbsp of oil in it to prevent sticking.
1. Use a concave serving plate so it can hold the sauce.
2. Spoon enough palak sauce to come about 1/3 up the plate.
3. Roll the pasta into a cylinder and lay it in the centre of the plate. Here is a how-to video.
4. Sprinkle cheese cubes around the pasta and sauce.
5. Top with toasted pine nuts and baby spinach leaves.
Also by Prashantha: Cheezy Jalapeño Polenta Cakes with Balsamic Mushrooms
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Photo: Prishantha Lachanna