This recipe is all about multi-tasking and is totally doable in 30 minutes. Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees F (218 C) and draining your tofu. Then wrap in a clean towel and set something heavy on top. (This step can also be done in advance with a tofu press.)
Cube tofu and add to a medium mixing bowl. Season with curry powder, coconut aminos, sea salt, and nutritional yeast. Shake the bowl to gently toss. Set aside.
Heat a medium oven-safe seasoned cast iron over medium heat (if using a stainless steel skillet, add a little oil so it doesn’t stick). Once hot, add the tofu and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until a couple of the sides are browned. Then transfer to the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes. If you prefer firmer tofu, bake longer. If you want softer tofu that mocks paneer, bake less. Set aside to rest in the pan.
Fill a large pot halfway full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. While you wait, move on to the next step.
Heat a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and cumin seed, ginger, onion, and serrano pepper. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent — about 5 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes and garlic and stir to combine. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until the tomato has softened.
Your water should be boiling now. Add spinach and cook uncovered for 2 minutes. Then strain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Set aside.
Add the tomato mixture to a blender or food processor along with cooked drained spinach and the vegetable broth (or water). Blend into a smooth sauce, scraping down sides as needed. If it has trouble blending, add more vegetable broth or water.
Lastly, cook your sauce. Heat the same rimmed skillet from earlier over medium heat. Once hot, add remaining oil (or some water), curry powder, and garam masala. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the spinach sauce and stir. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat for about 3-4 minutes to deepen the flavors. If it bubbles too much, lower heat to a simmer. Then add coconut milk and stir.
Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding salt or coconut aminos to deepen the flavor and curry powder for more rich curry flavor.
Serve over your tofu “paneer” and garnish with another drizzle of full fat coconut milk and fresh cilantro. Rice makes a lovely side, as does garlic naan! Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat in the microwave or in a rimmed skillet until hot.
*Recipe inspiration from Veg Recipes of India. *This recipe is our inspired (not traditional) plant-based take on palak paneer. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with avocado oil and lesser amount of vegetable broth and without optional ingredients.