Ugly delicious. That’s exactly what this meal is and, considering I spent most of Saturday night watching David Chang’s Netflix documentary of the same name, the description seems fitting.
This slow cooker vegan saag paneer may not be pretty, but it’s so delicious.
I love Indian food so much and even though 23 and Me assures me that most of my ancestry comes from Europe, I swear I’ve got a little bit of Indian in my blood. With as much as I make it, that’s gotta be somewhat true.
Anyways, the beauty of being an Italian/Danish gal trying to cook Indian cuisine is that I’m not beholden to any family traditions. Most of my recipes come from cookbooks and my friend Harnoor’s family that I’ve put my own spin on. This saag paneer is a healthier take than what you would find at most restaurants; it’s ghee free and the richness comes from canned coconut milk.
When we were living in Sacramento, I ordered Saag Paneer at least a few times a month. We had an Indian restaurant just a few blocks away from our condo and it was my favorite treat on nights I didn’t feel like cooking. Which, after an hour commute home, was most weeknights. Our order was almost the exact same every time: a vegetable biryani for BL, saag paneer for me and extra naan for both of us.
This recipe couldn’t be easier; almost as simple as ordering takeout. Saute the onion, ginger, garlic and spices until toasted and fragrant. I like my saag paneer slightly spicy, so I’m using both cayenne pepper and a thai chili pepper. Feel free to omit or cut down as needed.
Place the spinach in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. This is a lot of spinach and, that’s a good thing. As flavorful as this is, can you imagine a better way to eat a ton of spinach? Skip the pre-bagged baby spinach as you will need a few bags and that can get expensive. Instead, head to the fresh lettuce area of the grocery store and grab mature spinach leaves. Or, for a heartier version, use some mustard greens for the spinach.
Of course, this is a vegan saag paneer so we are using tofu instead of actual paneer. If you love paneer, you’ve gotta try this dairy-free version. I promise it tastes so much like paneer, you won’t notice the difference.
For extra crispy tofu, I am using the same trick I always do- coat in cornstarch and then lightly fry until golden. The cornstarch adds a crispy layer and prevents the tofu from becoming soggy as it cooks in the saag sauce. I know some of you don’t like cornstarch, so you can skip this step if you’d like, though I’d still recommend lightly frying it to give it texture before adding to the sauce.
It’s a very rainy day in St. Louis and I’m so glad that I’ve got this saag paneer simmering in my slow-cooker for dinner this evening. What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? Anything you want to see more of?
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!
Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer
Yield 6 servings
Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer! If you like saag paneer or palak paneer, you will love this vegan version using tofu instead of paneer. Made effortless in the slow cooker for healthy weeknight dinners. Gluten-free.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 thai chili, seeded and chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach leaves
- 1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- rice and naan, for serving
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic, ginger, spices and thai chili and cook another 1-2 minutes until spices are toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and place in the base of a food processor.
- Add the spinach leaves to the food processor and pulse to chop the spinach. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor; I do it in two batches.
- Place the chopped spinach and spice mixture to the base of a slow cooker along with the coconut milk, tomato sauce and salt. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
- 30-60 minutes before serving; dice the tofu and toss with the cornstarch until coated. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Add the tofu to the spinach mixture and cook. Season to taste, as needed, and serve with rice and naan.
Courses main, dinner
Cuisine Indian, Glutenfree, vegan, vegetarian
Serving Size 1/6 recipe with 1/2 cup rice
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Sodium 266 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 2 g
Protein 12 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.