Immigrants from Northern India have popularized dishes like this one in Australian cities. The Sanskrit word saag means “greens”—not just spinach (known as palak). Paneer is a firm cheese with a high melting point made from milk curdled with lemon juice or another acid. If you cannot find it, halloumi, feta, or queso fresco make good stand-ins.
- 1 pound baby spinach, cleaned of any sand or grit
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- 8 ounces paneer, halloumi, feta (drained), or queso fresco
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 1 to 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon pure chili powder, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Basmati rice and/or naan, for serving
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the spinach, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Place the spinach and 2 or 3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid in the jar of a blender or the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is coarsely pureed. Set aside.
Cut the cheese into 1-inch cubes. (If the cheese is damp, dry it on paper towels first.) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil as well as the cheese cubes. Sauté the cheese in a single layer (work in batches, if necessary), until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels (again, in a single layer).
Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the oil that remains in the skillet. Add the onion and chile and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 3
minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the reserved spinach mixture and the cheese and heat gently. Stir in the lemon juice and cream and add salt to taste. Serve warm with basmati rice and/or naan.
Serves 2 to 3 as a main course
Canned green curry paste, available in stores and online from Maesri, makes quick work of this dish. Feel free to add in other vegetables that you have on hand, sautéing them along with the onions and peppers. Serve over basmati or jasmine rice or rice noodles.
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- 1 large onion, sliced thin
- 2 large bell peppers (any colors), seeded and cut into wide strips
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- One 4-ounce can green curry paste
- Two 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
- Two and a half pounds shrimp, peeled
- One 8-ounce can water chestnuts
- Rice or Asian noodles, for serving
Heat a wok or a large, deep frying pan over high heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then the onions and about half the peppers, depending on what fits in your pan. Stir-fry until the onions are slightly brown but not yet completely soft, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the wok and stir-fry the rest of the peppers with the carrots, about 5 minutes. Return the cooked vegetables to the wok and cook over low heat for another 3 minutes; transfer all the veggies back to the bowl.
Add the final tablespoon of the oil to the wok and add the curry paste, whisking it into the oil to soften it. Add the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add back all the vegetables along with the shrimp and simmer 5 to 7 minutes, until the shrimp are pink, stirring occasionally. Stir in the water chestnuts, cover the wok, and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Because they hold their shape better when cooked, I prefer green or black lentils for this dish in lieu of the more common brown lentils. If radicchio is not available, use Bibb or butter lettuce leaves. Try this with the tuna recipe.
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon good-quality sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon or whole grain mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoon honey or agave, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
- 2 cups cooked lentils, preferably green or black
- 1/2 cup diced red onion or shallots
- 1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup oil-cured black or green olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley
- Finely grated zest of one lemon
- 1 head radicchio, separated into leaves
Make the vinaigrette: In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, and honey. Mix well with a fork or small whisk. Gradually add the olive oil, whisking constantly. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Add more honey if the vinaigrette is too tart.
In a large bowl, combine the lentils, onion, bell pepper, olives, parsley, and lemon zest. After making sure the lid of the vinaigrette jar is on tightly, shake the vinaigrette to re-emulsify. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad; stir gently with a rubber spatula. (You may not need all of the vinaigrette.) Chill, covered, for up to 1 day.
Place a radicchio “cup” on each of 4 chilled plates. Spoon the lentil salad into the cups. Serve immediately.
With store-bought dumpling wrappers, available in rounds and squares that typically come in packages of 50, making homemade dumplings is a breeze. (If buying wrappers from the refrigerator case, freeze half the package for a future use.) You can buy ground chicken, but I’ve included a quick DIY hack. Sherry makes a good substitute for the Shaoxing cooking wine.
- 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced into thirds
- 4 ounces of raw peeled carrot chunks
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 25 to 30 round dumpling wrappers
- 10 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
Place the chicken chunks on a rimmed sheet pan and freeze for 10 minutes (this makes grinding easier). Meanwhile, place the ginger, garlic, scallions, and carrots in a food processor and process until finely minced; transfer to a large bowl. Add the chilled chicken to the food processor bowl and process until finely ground, about 10 to 15 pulses; add in the soy sauce, cooking wine, cornstarch, sesame oil, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and pulse a few more times until well blended. Transfer to the bowl with the vegetables and mix thoroughly.
Line a clean rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Dampen a clean dishtowel or paper towels and place them over the sheet pan. Fill a small bowl with cold water and set it between the package of wrappers and the chicken mixture. Use a fingertip to thoroughly wet the circumference of a dumpling wrapper and then place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center (don’t overfill or it won’t stay sealed). Fold over the wrapper to make a half-moon shape, pressing down along the edges to seal, then crimp the edges to further seal in the filling. Place the dumpling on the sheet pan under the damp toweling. Repeat until you’ve filled all the wrappers.
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 5 tablespoons of water, and a layer of dumplings to the pan (fry in two batches, if needed, to avoid crowding). Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Take off the cover and keep cooking until the liquid evaporates and the bottom of the dumplings are browned, another 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
For a dipping sauce, combine the 1/4 cup soy sauce and the rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and serve.