January 21, 2013

Paneer & Spinach Quesadillas with Cilantro Chutney


After making my "PLT" sandwiches, I wanted to come up with another use for the rest of my paneer cheese, and my first thought was to use it in quesadillas!

I took my inspiration for these quesadillas from one of my favourite things that I ate when I was in India - parathas.  Parathas are basically an Indian flatbread stuffed with a variety of fillings, from the classic potato (aloo) paratha to more unique combinations like cauliflower and daikon, or onion with mushrooms.

One of my favourite parathas to order used to be paneer with spinach (also known as palak-paneer paratha), cooked until the outside is golden brown and served with spicy green chutney and cool yogurt. Here's a look at my actual order from a paratha restaurant in India:


While I could have attempted to recreate this at home, I decided to try to take the filling ingredients and use them in tortillas shells instead to make these quesadillas!

And since quesadillas are so much better with toppings like salsa and sour cream, I took the typical paratha condiments, cilantro chutney and plain yogurt, and used them to top my quesadillas.


After not having much success with my last attempt to make quesadillas, I was super excited that these turned out the way I wanted! The only caveat is that the paneer doesn't melt easily, so if you want an extra gooey, cheesy filling, just stick the cooked quesadillas in a warm oven or the microwave briefly after you've cooked them. This also works well with any leftovers - I thought they were even better after being reheated!

Since the paneer is rather flavourless on its own, the spinach cooked with onion, chili and ginger helped to spice up the filling.  But what really took these quesadillas over the top taste-wise was the cilantro chutney. While I think that any storebought chutney would still taste great as a condiment here, I was so glad I took the extra effort of making my own.

The chutney was super spicy for my taste (even with only one green chili), but the heat was balanced out by the lemon juice that I added.  Swirling some creamy plain yogurt into the chutney as you spread it on your quesadillas also helped to mellow out the spicy bite!


Paneer & Spinach Quesadillas

~5 cups packed spinach leaves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 green chili, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
Dash of salt
~2 cups (200 grams) paneer cheese, grated
6 small whole wheat tortillas
Cilantro chutney (storebought, or recipe below)
Plain yogurt

Wash the spinach and let dry in a colander, squeezing out any excess moisture with your hands.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, chili, and cumin and cook, stirring often, until the onion softens (about 4 minutes).  Add the spinach leaves and a dash of salt. Cook until the spinach leaves are wilted and most of the moisture has evaporated, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a bowl.

To make quesadillas, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Lay a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the grated paneer over half of the tortilla.  Top with about 1/4 cup of the spinach mixture. Fold the quesadilla, bring the empty side down over the filling, and press down with a spatula. Once the bottom side is lightly browned (about 2-3 minutes), flip and cook the other side for another couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and transfer to a plate. (If you are making a larger batch, you can transfer the cooked quesadillas to a baking sheet and keep in a warm oven (200°F) while you cook the remaining quesadillas).

Repeat the process until the cheese and spinach mixture are used up – mine made enough for 6 small sized tortillas. Serve warm, with the cilantro chutney and plain yogurt.


Cilantro Chutney
Slightly adapted from Vegan Eats World

2 cups packed cilantro leaves (it’s okay to leave some thin stems in)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 green chili, minced
1 ¼ tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water (plus more if necessary)

Add all the ingredients except for the water to a food processor or blender. Blend until everything is mixed together.  Add half of the water and blend again. Continue to blend, gradually adding more water as necessary, until the mixture is as smooth as possible (I used 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp water).

Transfer to a small container and store in the fridge.


2 comments:

  1. Loved the bite of chutney I had - added the perfect burst of flavour to these quesadillas!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome idea! I love a good spicy, cilantro chutney! Love the idea of doing a paneer quesadilla. I cannot wait to make this at home. Yum!

    ReplyDelete

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