I'm a really big fan of most ethnic food, but my favorite by far is Indian food. Perhaps I was Indian in a past life, that's how much I love it. And of all the Indian food I have had, one specialty tops my list. Saag Paneer. A.k.a. Palak Paneer. It's a creamy, flavorful spinach puree with chunks of Indian cheese. So last year when I set out to lose weight, I immediately set out to find or create a low calorie saag paneer recipe. And you know what? It wasn't that hard.
I would serve this with Trader Joe's naan (frozen section-3 points per piece) and TJ's frozen brown rice (1 point for 1/3 cup) and raita (very low point value if made with non-fat yogurt).
Low Cal Saag Paneer
13 Weight Watchers points for the WHOLE recipe, plus each light cheese stick adds one point
1 Tbsp canola oil
6 medium or 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp minced ginger
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (I like Trader Joe’s Three Cheese)
3 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed or 2 (16 oz.) bags frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 cup whole milk or coconut milk
1.25 Tbsp garam masala
1.25 Tbsp coriander
1.25 Tbsp cumin
1.5 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper to taste--add this at the end--be careful, there is already a lot of heat without this
Optional: For the paneer-1 or 1 1/2 Light Mozzarella String Cheese stick per person, each stick cut into 8 slices
Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Heat garlic and ginger until golden brown.
Reduce heat to low. Stir in tomato sauce, coriander, cumin, garam masala and salt. Partly cover and simmer for 8-9 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in thawed spinach. When spinach is hot, add fresh baby spinach. When baby spinach has wilted, using a hand/immersion blender, puree mixture until it has as smooth of a of consistency as you like. Simmer 8-10 minutes until spinach turns olive green. Stir in milk. Taste mixture. If you like your Indian food spicy, now is the time to add some cayanne pepper.
Remove from heat. If serving immediately, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 sliced mozzarella cheese sticks per person.
If you know you will have leftovers, I recommend not stirring in the sliced cheese stick to the saag mixture that you will be refrigerating. When you reheat the leftover saag, add the cheese as you heat and eat servings of this. The cheese is not supposed to be overly melted or stringy.
2 cups plain greek low fat or non fat yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, finely chopped or shredded
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Stir well and serve. Keeps well in the refridgerator for a few days.