Saag Paneer

Christmas time is in full swing around our house, and the neighbour’s, and the many other denizens of these northern climes. We’re all gussied up, our stockings are hung by the chimney (electric fire place) with care, a recipe is in the works for Santa’s evening cookie and nog and presents are beginning to pile up around the base of our locally grown Douglas Fir tree. The lights are strung up outside and around the house and everyone is in full cheer mode. The joyous sounds of carols can be heard from anywhere in the house most times of the day.

This last weekend we headed to the in laws house to merry up their tree (a yearly tradition). Crates full of decorations come out of the coldest parts of the basement, stockings are hung and beer and wine is passed around for the next couple of hours as we untangle last years beads to hang (new time record: one hour standing on a stool next to the tree. Frustration level: stratospheric).

We’ve introduced the little ones to classics such as the original “Grinch”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, even the littlest one’s attention was captured for a fleeting moment. Enough to snap this photo anyway…maybe it was the snacks.

Sometimes I feel like I am struggling with the ways in which we teach our children the other parts of Christmas (the parts that aren’t related to a mythic man with a white beard and gifts under the tree). But after we asked our son to write a letter to Santa, I rested a little easier. Of course he asked for his own presents, but he also included his sister in his letter. Such a beautiful soul he is. I hope I can continue to make his future bright, though I often have my own inner battle with how and what we do with him each day. Is this not the curse each one of us mother’s face every day? Are we doing it right? Will I F^&$ the whole thing right up? When I yelled three times in the last hour did I completely destroy his self esteem? It’s enough to drive one to drink…

I recently took work at a local catering company, somewhere I used to work eight or nine years ago (holy!) and have been making an evening trek there about three nights week. It’s a great retreat for me to be back in a commercial kitchen, ripping it up with the other chefs ( in our clogs! Holla!) and working with foods I can only dream about at home. It’s also a bit of a break from the kids and a chance to get out of the house and do something for myself. There’s also this beautiful light every night taunting me as I drive straight into it. I’ve had to stop a couple of times to snap a photo out the window.

Me. In my whites. In the cooler.

There’s been a lot of beer being drunk in this house over the past few weeks. We like to call it “research”. Look forward to a weekly article by Adrian on beers and what to pair with them. We’re pretty excited to offer this new section of Guilty Kitchen and I hope you will be as well. While we will try to be as international as possible, there will definitely be a spotlight on our local craft brews. There is quite a scene here and we would really like to showcase that.

Speaking of beer, what pairs really well with a nice deep, dark, smoky stout on a chilly winter’s night? How about a steaming hot bowl of paneer, spinach and beet greens mixed with only the best and tastiest of spices? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

One year ago: How to Make Whole Wheat Bread (no machine)

Two years ago: How to Make Perfect Popcorn

Saag Paneer

Yield: 4 side servings or 2 entree sized
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

3/4 lb. fresh spinach
3/4 lb. Swiss Chard, beet greens or kale
8 oz paneer, cut into small cubes (bite sized)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 1/2 tbsp garlic (about 8 large cloves), minced or grated
1 1/2 cups pureed tomatoes (in winter, we use no salt added glass jars)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground fenugreek
cayenne (a pinch to 1 tsp depending on how spicy you like it)

1. Wash, rinse and drain the greens. Chop into large pieces (about 1/2 an inch).
2. Heat the oil in a large deep pot or a heavy bottomed saucepan that has a fitted lid. Wait until it starts to sizzle a bit, then add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds to one minute. Enough to brown it, but not enough to crisp it up.
3. Stir in the tomatoes. Then add all the spices and salt. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the greens and paneer and mix it up well.  Cover and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, making sure the greens are well wilted and everything is coated with the masala.
4. Serve immediately by itself for a quick and lazy dinner or serve it with a lentil dish for a great vegetarian dinner.

Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:

Paneer Kheer from Sharmis Passions
Paneer Pound Cake from My Diverse Kitchen
How to Make Paneer from Indian Simmer
Paneer Potato Cakes from Evil Shenanigans
Paneer Bruschetta from Journey Kitchen

22 comments to Saag Paneer

  • This post makes me giddy in so many ways. WHY LET ME TELL YOU OF THE WAYS:

    a) your family. that shot. the light. my heart.

    b) you back in the commercial kitchen! i love your smile. i know we’d get along.

    c) adrian’s new beer column! yessssssaaaaaa. i. can’t. wait.

    d) saag paneer massages my heart and soul. it’s my absolute favorite indian food dish. you rule.

    e) the end.

  • aimee

    lovely post! and that saag paneer looks wonderful.
    i am wondering where you get no salt added glass jars of tomatoes? just curious, cause we’re trying to get away from canned tomatoes! thanks!

  • Mr. Guilty

    Beer! Beer, beer, beer beer beer. Now, onto the beer.
    Can’t wait to start writing these posts, I only hope I can live up to Elizabeth’s hype :)

    Although, after picking up a 1.5L Anchor Brewing Magnum on recommendation from Rod Phillips, a local purchaser for a chain of great liquor stores here in town, I have to admit I must be on the verge of being beer crazy. Its a good feeling.

    Great post Elizabeth! I am so glad you are enjoying the time out of the house. I am enjoying the time with just me and the kids.

  • This is something I made for the first time this year. Congrats on your new job and many hugs for a happy holiday to you and your family.

  • Saag paneer and beer are two of my very favorite things in the whole wide world. I am so lucky to live near so many excellent breweries (one of the perks of living near San Diego) and am freakish in my devotion to them. I am very excited for this weekly column. It will tie in very nicely with my Cicerone certification.

  • Your photographs are beautiful. Your family is beautiful. You are beautiful. Congratulations on the job. Your son’s letter squeezed my heart. I love that he asked for a tennis ball *to play with mama and papa* and that he told Santa his sister’s name and what she would like him to bring her.

    His letter is indicative of the solid foundation you have laid for him and his sister. You are raising caring children who, nurtured by the love of their parents will grow into caring loving adults. Keep doing what you have done…it’s obviously working.

    • Elizabeth

      Thank you Paula. That makes me smile so much, I wish you could see it. It’s good to get an outside perspective once in a while, which I guess, is a great reason to have a blog and write about my life!

  • I just loved your son’s letter to Santa. And the photo of them all watching Christmas shows – so very sweet. Congrats on taking the catering company gig. I bet it feels just great to be in that kitchen again, with other grown-ups. :)
    merry jennifer recently posted..christmas dinners of years past and a recipe: pressure cooker pot roastMy Profile

    • Elizabeth

      You’re so right MJ, it does feel good to have that alone adult time with other independent people. I think we all (mothers) have those moments where you feel like you’ve lost yourself in the routine of the children.

  • Saag Paneer AND smoky Stout?? *WANT* And I love that you are back to work. Part time is my dream right: Some Mommy-time AND Be-A-Real-Life-Human time.

    I completely understand the mommy-fears. I really truly believe that if you DON”T feel that like at least once a day, then your a bad mom. Good moms worry, a lot. It’s in the fine print. Your kids (and hubs) are lucky to have a mom as awesome as you to worry about them AND love them! You’re a Super Hero :)
    Jackie @ Domestic Fits recently posted..Easy Homemade Chocolate Raspberry Mousse pieMy Profile

  • That tree pic is gorgeous – just added to Pinterest for Christmas inspiration.
    PS Glad Journey Kitchen is on the list – a fab blogger from near our neck of the woods.
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..In my kitchen in December…My Profile

  • Wonderful post and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
    norma recently posted..IF IT’S BROKEN THEN FIX ITMy Profile

  • Kristel Mae

    I really love the photos you have here for us and I think I really have to share this too…

  • Amy

    Looks delicious! I’ve yet to tackle any sort of Indian food at home, despite my long-standing love affair with it. This just might be the recipe that is the kick in the butt I need to make it, instead of going to the take-out route.
    Amy recently posted..Frozen Hot Chocolate on a Cold Winter’s DayMy Profile

  • What an awesome post – first congrats on going back to the commercial kitchen – so much fun! Saag Paneer some of my favorite Indian food so good. I was brought up on gnomes not much on Santa – so there are so many versions of the story out there. But the gnomes did all the work!
    Delishhh recently posted..10 Best Hostess GiftsMy Profile

  • Gianeli

    Love this idea and this looks really delicious!!

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