Indian Saag Spinach and Tofu 'Cheese' Paneer Vegan Recipe

This Indian-inspired recipe is one of John Mackey’s favorites. It is quite simple to make, but it takes a lot of fresh spinach (saag) to get the right texture and flavor. Tofu substitutes well for the paneer cheese used in traditional recipes, as it has a similar texture and mild flavor. Recipe by Dan Marek.

Indian Saag Spinach and Tofu 'Cheese' Paneer Vegan Recipe

Category: Dinner & Mains, Recipes

Servings: 4

Indian Saag Spinach and Tofu 'Cheese' Paneer Vegan Recipe


  • 1 (14-ounce) block firm tofu, drained
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or other nondairy milk
  • 1/2 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, trimmed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 (6-ounce) can no-added-sodium tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed


  1. Wrap the drained tofu in a few layers of paper towels, then sandwich it between two plates and
  2. weight down the top plate with a heavy book. Press for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the soy milk, coconut milk, curry powder, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Cut the pressed tofu into roughly 1/2 by 3-inch strips and place them in the bowl. Cover with the marinade and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  5. Remove the tofu from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Place the tofu strips on the prepared
  6. baking sheet, leaving space between them (if they touch, they will stick together). Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the tofu slices using a spatula and bake until slightly firm to the touch, about 20 minutes more.
  7. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the onion and dry sauté, stirring to prevent sticking, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and stir to deglaze the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the spinach and mustard greens in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with tongs and transfer to a food processor. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, cumin, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the reserved marinade. Puree until mostly smooth.
  9. Pour the spinach mixture back into the pan and reheat over low heat. Add the tofu strips and mix gently until coated and warmed through.
  10. Serve hot.

Excerpted from the book THE WHOLE FOODS COOKBOOK by John Mackey, Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman,. Recipes by The Sarno Brothers of Wicked Healthy Copyright © 2018 by Whole Foods Market IP, LP and Transition to Health, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved. MD

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Indian Saag Spinach and Tofu 'Cheese' Paneer Vegan Recipe
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