Trader Joe’s: the gold standard of frozen meals was the inspiration for our new Palak “Paneer”
Let me start by saying frozen meals are not my favorite, but I also recognize the critical role they play in our lives. With how busy we are all the time, we often just need something we can grab from the freezer, throw in the microwave, and just like that, have a pretty good meal in the manner of minutes. This is generally the case on my Friday night after spending the day running around to get things wrapped up from the week and then working the Friday dinner shift at Whiskey Bird. When I finally get home, typically, all I have the energy to do is throw something in the microwave and plop on the couch to watch an episode of Bridgerton. We have always turned to Trader Joe’s for these options and keep a couple favorites readily stocked in our freezer.
Trader Joe’s inspired our new Palak “Paneer” dish. This is hands down our family’s favorite frozen dinner from Trader Joe’s. It is healthy-ish, reasonably filling, flavorful, and always delivers for a frozen meal. We wanted to recreate these characteristics in a fresh version that could be frozen at home if desired. Leftovers are also a great lunch option.
Firstly, what is Palak Paneer?
In overly simple terms, a Northern Indian vegetarian dish is creamed spinach seasoned with herbs and spices, and cubes of Indian cottage cheese (paneer) typically served with rice.
Secondly, why do we love it so much to add it to our menu?
We try to eat vegetarian or vegan several days a week. We love vegetarian dishes that are just as flavorful and satisfying as any carnivorous dish. Palak Paneer is just that kind of dish. The combination of spinach, cilantro, and parsley seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, and fenugreek make the dish a true flavor wallop. We use plain greek yogurt as a substitute for cream to make the dish rich and slightly healthier. Finally, salted fresh cheese curds add a little texture and make this dish a meal.
We hope you enjoy it!
What is garam masala - a blend of cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamom pods are toasted in a pan to release their aromatic flavors, then ground to a powder.
What is fenugreek - a bittersweet (herb) and spice (seeds) that is best used to help enhance other flavors and round out a dish. The sweet aroma is reminiscent of maple syrup, and in fact, it is often used in artificial maple syrups.