My giant cookbook of modern casseroles is finished and on the shelves, but I haven't quit making casseroles. It's just too easy to throw a few simple ingredients into a pan and bake them — as I did with this Indian-style dish of greens, paneer, and spices.
Last week I was cooking for quite a crowd, and I had a plan for one evening meal of Indian-inspired dishes. I made those seriously tender and moist spiced lamb meatballs, and a big tangy cucumber salad. I was also craving spicy greens and the squeaky Indian cheese, paneer, but I wanted something quick that could also be done in the oven. Enter baked spinach and cheese, Indian-style.
I spluttered some mustard seeds in hot oil, along with garlic, ginger, and onion (the holy trinity of Indian cooking!) and tossed this with garam masala and some seared cubes of firm farmer's cheese. (I was in Colorado, so queso fresco stood in for paneer. They're really not all that different!) I tossed in a hefty helping of greens from the freezer: Some tender spinach, but also quite a lot of turnip greens, since they have that pleasantly bitter taste and will stand up better to long cooking. I stirred in yogurt and some eggs, and baked it all under a crunchy almond topping.
It may sound complex, but it didn't take long at all to throw together. Like most casseroles it wasn't terribly photogenic, but I still think it's prettier than most, with all those tumbled greens mixed in with big, squeaky cubes of cheese.
It was a dish I will certainly go back to — it had all that warmth of Indian-style greens, and the gentle tang of yogurt. It was warm, cheesy, and spiced — the perfect thing for a brisk spring night.
The recipe is over at my book blog; check it out here:
• Get the recipe: Baked Spinach & Paneer with Ginger & Spices at Not Your Mother's Casseroles blog
More about my book at its Amazon page:
• Not Your Mother's Casseroles at Amazon
Related: Recipe: Kale and Potato Gratin
(Images: Faith Durand)