Sunday 21 February 2016

Paneer Florentine

I have been struggling to push myself and blog more on the regular savoury food that we have at home. But often, since I like to prepare food fresh and on time, I seldom get to click pictures and thus post on it. A stronger push was thus necessary to let readers know that I do eat things beyond all the cakes and cookies I keep posting. 
Frankly speaking I rarely eat my own sweet bakes and I bake in small quantities sufficient for my daughter and husband. So the regular everyday meal is just like in any other home though I must confess that I am a little lazy in savoury experiments.
Paneer florentine was born out of circumstances of unavailability. Many years ago, myself and Vishal had a dish called Fish Florentine in a restaurant called One step up on Park street. Vishal being the savoury experimenter at our home, decided to give it a try and it came out quite wonderful.
While trying out the same dish in Allahabad, we were stuck at an odd hour where we could not find fish so we thought of trying the same with Paneer. The dish came out wonderful and we were surprised how the humble paneer fitted perfectly in this French dish. 
The word Florentine (pronounced Flor-en-teen), in culinary world, refers to a recipe that is prepared in the style of the Italian region of France. Florentine recipes typically feature a bed of Spinach on which a main ingredient such as meat, poultry or fish is laid and then topped with a Mornay sauce which is a béchamel sauce with shredded or grated Gruyère cheese and an egg yolk. A florentine recipe may also be topped with cheese which is browned as in au gratin.

Ingredients : For 2-3 servings
  • half a bunch of spinach leaves
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 150 gms Paneer, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp refined oil
  • 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warm
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Procedure : 
Wash spinach leaves very well.
Boil water in a pan and add the spinach leaves. Turn off the heat and immediately drain the spinach leaves and put in cold water. Drain and roughly chop.
Take oil in a pan and saute half of the chopped garlic. 
Add the spinach and saute for a while. Season with salt.
Lay the spinach in a baking tray of your choice.
Place the paneer cubes randomly on it.

Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Now, make the béchamel sauce (basic white sauce) by taking butter and oil in a pan. As soon as the butter melts, add the all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Turn the heat to medium and keep stirring till the flour turns a little brown.
Meanwhile keep milk a little warmed up. Pour this warm milk to the pan and stir continuously till the sauce thickens to the required consistency. Warm milk is poured to avoid the formation of lumps in the sauce.
Season with salt and black pepper.

Pour white sauce on the paneer cubes in the baking pan. 

Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese on top and some dried parsley. 
Bake for 15 minutes or till the cheese melts and gets a beautiful brown colour. 
Serve with Garlic toasts or plain buttered toasts.  

Happy Florentine-ing

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