February 22, 2011

Spinach? Ew! Right?

OK, let me start by saying that I don't have much spinach trauma in my life (well there was that horridly weird bacon-fat dressing on a spinach salad once, but that wasn't the spinach's fault), but we've mostly been nodding acquaintances. A salad here, some frozen chopped spinach used in a pasta dish there, that was about it. And in general I preferred spinach raw or - if cooked - unidentifiable among other ingredients. Because, you know... wilted leaves... are kind of 'ew'.

Until yesterday, that is. When I discovered a cooked spinach dish - in which the spinach is identifiable - that I love.

It's called Sautéed Arugula and Spinach with Paneer and Roasted Cashews, and it's from the Appetizers and Salads section of Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, a cookbook that My Beloved and I bought (along with a masala dabba) after a particularly fine meal at Vij's restaurant. (Well, actually at Vij's Rangoli, next door, which was easier to get into, and which does the retail sales.) It was an excellent investment, as cookbooks go, and an excellent introduction not just to the ingredients in Indian cooking, but to the methods involved, and the importance of those methods (e.g., cooking the spices).

I was going to make this as part of an Indian feast we were planning, for a get-together with our friends Victoria and Mark, whom we hadn't seen in years, before the plans got changed and we ended up eating out rather than in. But I already had the spinach and arugula - and it kept really well, in an insulated grocery bag, outside in our cold store, for a week or more - so I thought I'd give it a whack anyway.

If you've ever done any Indian cooking, you'll know that it takes time. The prep, the mise en place, the grinding of spices, and so on, it can take ages to get a dish ready. But this one only took about an hour. Which is entirely reasonable for a weekday dinner. It would probably take me less time, next time, now that I know what I'm about. And I was cooking for one - My Beloved is in Puerto Rico, with work - so a meatless meal was allowed. :)  So without further ado: