| Prep Time: 10 mins
| Cook Time: 30 mins
| Total Time: 40 mins
You may need: Dried Garlic Powder
Saag Tofu is a variant of the popular Indian dish Saag Paneer, which many may recognize from their local Indian restaurant. 'Saag' translates to 'greens' in Hindi and is most often prepared with Spinach. Paneer is a soft, fresh cheese popular in South Asia, similar to ricotta. For most of us in North America, finding Paneer is not an option, so we modified the recipe to use nutritious tofu in its place.
This dish is basically a spinach curry with lightly pan-fried chunks of tofu, providing a delicious and satisfying bite. The wonderful flavor is provided by the combination of our freshly-ground Garam Masala spices along with fresh aromatics: onions, ginger, and garlic. Garam Masala means 'warming spices' in Hindi and is a staple on most households' tables in South Asia. The warming context comes not from fiery hot chiles, but rather spices that North Americans typically associate with baking: cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, and cloves.
1 lb (16 oz) of fresh spinach
2 Tbsp canola (or olive) oil
1 container of extra firm tofu, sliced into 2" cubes
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp Piquant Post Garam Masala spice
1 (14.5oz) can of no-salt diced tomatoes, drained (or use 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced)
2 Tbsp of heavy cream (or coconut milk, or milk)
Handful of cilantro roughly chopped for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
This recipe calls for briefly boiling ("blanching") the greens in boiling water. Watch the timer closely as you want to soften and wilt the greens without overcooking them. Rinsing them with cold water after boiling stops the cooking and prevents them from disintegrating.
If using other (tougher) greens such as kale (see Alternatives section below), you may have to add a 1-2 mins blanching time to wilt the greens. They should be soft enough to puree but not mushy.
The key to getting crispy edges on your tofu is to dry the tofu as much as possible on paper towels before frying. Tofu is packed in liquid so the curd doesn't dry out. But moisture is the enemy of crispiness.
One time-saving trick is to slice tofu into slabs (length of curd, but 1/3" thick). This means fewer pieces to flip in the pan when frying. When finished cooking, slice into smaller cubes before adding back to the greens.
Prefer baked tofu instead of fried? Certainly will reduce the amount of oil needed and you can get great, crispy results. Try this recipe for baked tofu.
Why do we call for canned tomatoes? Since the tomatoes are harvested at peak ripeness, canned tomatoes provide a better taste on average than most supermarket tomatoes that are picked less-than-ripe then shipped to market. However, feel free to substitute in fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes if they are in-season. Just remove the core/seeds first, then dice.
Lastly, optional ingredients add a little character and flavor but don’t sweat it if you don’t have them.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the spinach to the boiling water and blanch for 15 seconds. Remove from the water and transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water to cool the spinach. After all the spinach has been blanched and cooled in the ice water, drain the spinach well in a colander. Transfer the spinach to a food processor and pulse until the spinach is puréed well. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the tofu to the pan. Pan sear the tofu for 5-7 minutes over medium heat until the tofu is lightly browned. Remove the tofu from the pan
To the same pan, add the ginger, garlic and chopped onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the Piquant Post Garam Masala and stir well. Cook for 1 minute until the spices become fragrant.
Stir spinach pureé into skillet, add heavy cream and tofu, and season with salt to taste. Stir the mixture and cook 2-3 mins then remove from heat. Serve in bowls and garnish with cilantro.
Saag Tofu is easy to modify. Since 'Saag' in Hindi literally means 'greens', take creative license to substitute a mix of greens or single variety such as kale, collard greens, or swiss chard. We do not recommend lettuce varieties as they are too delicate and do not provide the same consistency dish.
Make a heartier meal by browning and adding in meat such as lamb, pork, or beef and adding a few minutes of lower-heat braising time in the pan to completely cook (or cook/BBQ separately and add at the end).
Coconut milk (not cream) and lighter 2% milk work as substitutes. We have not tried Soy or Almond milk, but suspect they will work. But your dish may have a slightly different consistency and taste with alternatives.
If you are lucky enough to have paneer (Indian fresh cheese) available at a local market, substitute it for the tofu.
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