Palak "Paneer" with Pressed Fresh Ricotta

Caregory : Dinner Ideas

A little extra hands-off pressing time firms up fresh ricotta into a block that can be cut into paneer-like cheese. Fried in ghee, the crispy, cheesy cubes transform into cheese croutons and are a perfect pair for the warm puree of chile and ginger-spiked spinach and cilantro.


    • 1 pound Homemade Fresh Ricotta or store-bought fresh ricotta, drained

    • 2 tablespoons ghee

    • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

    • 1 medium-size fresh serrano chile, stemmed and chopped

    • 1 teaspoon garam masala

    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

    • 1 pound baby spinach, roughly chopped

    • 1 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems (about 2 oz.), plus additional cilantro leaves for garnish

    • ½ cup water

    • ¼ cup heavy cream or plain yogurt

    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

    • ½ teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), optional

    • Basmati rice or flatbread, for serving


    1. Place a 10-inch square of damp double-lined cheesecloth on a clean work surface. Spoon ricotta into center of square. Using your hands, press to shape ricotta into a 5-inch square. Wrap cheesecloth tightly around ricotta, and press to form a 5 1/2-inch square (about 3/4 inch thick). Place wrapped ricotta on a double layer of paper towels. Top with a double layer of paper towels, and weight with a large cast-iron skillet (6 to 8 pounds). Let stand until paneer is firm and set, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours, changing out paper towels after 45 minutes.

    2. Unwrap ricotta, and cut into 3/4-inch squares, wiping knife clean after each slice. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium; add ghee. Fry ricotta cubes, flipping once, until lightly browned on 2 opposite sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

    3. Return same skillet with ghee to heat over medium. Add onion, and cook, stir- ring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, serrano, garam masala, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually add spinach. Cook, stirring often, until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

    4. Transfer spinach mixture to a blender; add cilantro leaves and stems and 1/2 cup water. Remove insert from blender lid, and cover with a kitchen towel. Process until mixture forms a coarse paste, 5 to 10 seconds. Return mixture to skillet over low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to desired consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in cream, salt, and kasoori methi, if using. Add ricotta cubes. Cover and cook until ricotta is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve with basmati rice or flatbread.


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