Indian-Flavored Roasted Vegetables with Paneer

Roasted vegetables can be quite tasty.  I generally make mine drizzled with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Their natural deliciousness comes out as they are roasted, making for a nice side dish.

However if you, like me, enjoy the flavors of Indian cuisine, then you’ll love this recipe, which includes a flavorful marinade.  It also calls for homemade paneer, which is an Indian cheese, that is quick, fast, easy, and delicious to make at home.  It’s similar to a firm ricotta and you can make with or without additional spices.

The recipe is not at all spicy.  Even if you’re not a fan of Indian cuisine, you’ll like this.  The nice part of this recipe is that you can adjust the marinade flavors to your liking.  Additionally, you can substitute any vegetable you’d like as well.

There’s a LOT of veggie chopping involved.  I’d recommend making the cheese first so that it can sit, then the marinade, then start the chopping.

Indian-Flavored Roasted Vegetables with Paneer 

(serves about 6)

Vegetables

  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch semicircles
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch semicircles
  • 1 small eggplant (peeled, if desired), cut into 1/2 inch semicircles
  • 1 medium yellow onion quartered
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1/2 rutabaga, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tomatoes, juiced and chopped into cubes
  • 2 large shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and wiped clean
  • 1 small portobello mushrooms, stemmed and wiped clean, caps peeled
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 inch semicircles
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into medium florets
  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • Homemade paneer (recipe follows), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mint and basil chiffonade, for garnish.

Indian-Style Marinade

  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 tomato
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

Homemade Paneer

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Spices, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Paneer Cheese:

Place a colander in the sink and line it with three layers of dampened cheesecloth, leaving a 2-inch overhang.  In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, reduce heat immediately to low.  Add 1.5 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice and salt.  Stir gently around sides – the milk will evaporate into fluffy curds and watery whey.  If this doesn’t happen, add the remaining vinegar or lemon juice.  [If you wish to add spice to the cheese, you would add it here. Chopped garlic and chives are a good suggestion.]  Pour the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander and drain for 10 minutes.  Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the cheese into a tight ball.  Tie the cheesecloth with string and transfer to a cutting board with the twisted, tied end off to the side.  Place a cutting board on the cheese, then a heavy skillet filled with tomato cans or something heavy.  Let the cheese stand at least 10 minutes until dry and firm before cutting into large cubes.  The cheese may be wrapped in a clean damp towel and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Marinade and Veggies:

In a food processor or blender, combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth. 

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl.  Pour the marinade and toss until well-coated.  Check the vegetables for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  Spread the vegetables onto a sheet pan, so that they are in a single layer. Place in the preheated oven and roast.  After 20 minutes, remove from oven, stir well and roast for an additional 20 minutes or until almost tender.  Add the paneer to the vegetables and roast for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Place the vegetables and cheese on a platter and garnish with mint and basil chiffonade.

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Is it a Rutabaga or a Turnip?

So, in addition to taking a cooking class, I have been trying to follow the Weight Watchers program.  Yeah, that’ll work, right?  Well, let me say that both experiences have opened my eyes to a lot of new foods that I have never had before and perhaps never would have tried.  This is especially true in the area of vegetables.

Today, I was at the supermarket, and right next to the peppers was a display of what I thought were rutabagas, but the sign said that they were yellow turnips.  According to Wikipedia, the name is used interchangeably.  This root vegetable is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.

Intrigued by this odd-looking little fella, with its purple and yellow skin, covered in a thick layer of wax, I bought one.

A little rutabaga trivia: Rutabagas thrive best in colder climates and they are popular in Scandinavian countries, especially in Sweden, where the vegetables are known as “swedes.” In Europe, rutabagas are still called swedes. In America, rutabagas were first cultivated in the northern parts of the country in the early 1800s. Canada and the northern part of the US are today’s largest producers of the rutabaga.

Now what to do with it?  Well, it was a good size, definitely more than enough for one person. First, I sliced off the thick waxy rind and found a nice yellow interior.  It had a consistency somewhat similar to that of a potato, but firmer. I tried a few different things with it.

  1. Rutabaga “chips” 
  2. Rutabaga “mash”
  3. As part of a roasted vegetable dish

The chips were simple.  They are healthier than potato chips and have a slightly sweeter taste – similar to a carrot.  Using a mandoline (I have an inexpensive plastic one, purchased for about $10), slice the turnip very thinly and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Spray lightly with olive oil in a “Misto”, or with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt.  Place in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden and crispy. 

For the mash, think “mashed potatoes”.  Simply substitute the rutabaga for most or all of the potatoes.  Boil in salted water until tender and breaks when you insert a fork in one of the pieces.  Add a teaspoon of butter and skim milk until you reach the desired consistency.  You may need to season further with salt and pepper.  I found that the mash was slightly bland and needed an additional flavor.  Next time, I may also include a couple of carrots or one potato in the mash.

For the roasted veggies, simply chop into 1/2″ cubes and include in the recipe.  I made a wonderful Indian-flavored roasted veggie dish.  Recipe will be included in the next post.

Oh, and for anyone following Weight Watchers, 4 oz. of rutabaga equals 1 point, vs. 2 points for 4 oz of potatoes.