It’s that time of year when it’s not really summer anymore, but I’m still loathe to admit it’s really fall. The trees still have their (green) leaves. I can get away with short sleeves most days. But there’s definitely a bit of chill in air, and the beach doesn’t have much appeal. This time of year I tend to stick to simple things in the kitchen. Have a few last chances to just eat tomatoes out of my hand. Spend more time outside before it gets too cold. So here’s a quick recipe equally at home in the summer or fall. Something tasty to eat before you get back to denying that it really is fall.
I think I’m becoming my mother. When I was growing up, anytime we went to a restaurant, she’d find something that she was sure she could make at home and spend half the meal wondering how to make it. More often than not, all plans to recreate Applebee’s chicken smothered in cheese, tortilla strips and ranch dressing (or whatever it was that day) were forgotten by the time we reached the car to go home. But I still think of it as one of my mother’s defining characteristics.
Saag paneer (or palak paneer) is one of my favorite Indian dishes. Saag paneer is pretty ubiquitous in Indian restaurants, but it can vary widely from one restaurant to the next. What they (almost) all have in common is a base of chopped or pureed greens in a creamy, spice-laden sauce studded with pieces of paneer. There’s considerable variation in what makes the sauce creamy (cream vs butter vs yogurt), what spices are used (anything from “nothing but garlic and ginger” to “garam masala” to “just about every spice in your cabinet”), how much heat it has and even which greens are used (although spinach is by far the most common.)
How to consume your weekly allowance of saturated fat in one meal without regret.
Usually I try to eat reasonably well. I’m not on any kind of weight loss plan; I don’t count calories or follow a specific plan, but I try to eat a lot of whole grains and fresh vegetables and limit my meat consumption. Sometimes though, I just want something completely indulgent something that doesn’t follow anyone’s definition of eating healthy. This is that thing.
This is a really great, simple weeknight dinner. (And don’t just take my word for it, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen likes it as well.) I’m not saying it’s ground-breaking or mind-blowing, but it’s pretty close to the top of the “things to make for dinner in 15 min without resorting to pre-made” list. And some nights that’s just what you want.
Back in culinary school I took an elective in Indian cooking. One of the dishes we made along the way was dal makhani, a stew made of urad dal (also known as Indian black lentils or black gram), kidney beans, ginger, garlic, garam masala, tomato and plenty of butter and cream. (There’s something quite satisfying about being able to unwrap a whole stick of butter and just drop it into a pot of stew.) The recipe was simple, rich and easy to make in bulk. Definitely a keeper.
As I’ve mentioned before, I signed up for a CSA box this year. It’s a great idea in theory, but I think it might just not be for me. When you’re trying to cook for a 3 (almost 4 – that’s hard to believe) year old, getting a big box of random produce every other week can be problematic. The Miss is really good for her age about eating her vegetables and trying new things, but she is still 3. We’re trying to balance introducing new things on a regular basis with keeping dinner recognizable for her so it’s not a fight every night. After all, what’s the point of cooking and eating as a family if no one enjoys it because the Miss is pouting and refusing to eat.