Palak tofu is a vegan take on Northern Indian palak paneer. This version is adapted from We Ate Well and Serious Eats.
For the Tofu
- One 14-ounce block super firm tofu* (see note below)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil or another neutral-tasting oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or another neutral-tasting oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds*
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes*
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Half 13-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (just shy of 1 cup)
- One 10-ounce package frozen spinach (or 2 bunches of mature spinach, about 12 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white miso
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- If using “super firm” tofu, skip this step. If using extra firm, press it in a tofu press or: place it on a plate, then top with another plate or cutting board, and weigh it down with something heavy, like a couple of cans, to squeeze out as much water as possible. Let stand for about 15 minutes, periodically draining off the excess water.
- In a medium bowl, make the tofu marinade by whisking together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon miso, 2 teaspoons oil, and pinches of salt and pepper.
- Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the marinade. Gently toss to coat and let stand for 15 minutes, tossing once or twice more while marinating.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the tofu in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the tofu does its thing, start the sauce. Heat a large high-sided pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, and cook until the seeds are dark brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, 1 teaspoon garam masala, and 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, and cook just for 30 seconds to avoid burning the spices.
- Add 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 can coconut milk, and the frozen spinach. Cover and bring to a boil. (If using fresh spinach, wait to wilt it in until after the liquid is boiling.)
- When the spinach is totally soft, turn the heat off. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon miso. Using an immersion blender*, purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir baked tofu into the sauce. Serve with rice or naan.
- Look for “super firm” tofu from Nasoya or at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find it, extra firm tofu will work.
- Cumin seeds can be subbed with ground cumin and added in step 7.
- If you like things spicier, sub the chili flakes with fresh chili pepper.
- If using a standard upright blender, purée in two batches. Remember to take out the removable center of the lid beforehand and cover the opening loosely with a kitchen towel while blending. If the steam gets trapped inside, the lid will blow off, potentially staining your kitchen and causing skin burns.