Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Paneer and Spinach Stuffed Shells in Malai Sauce

This is a delicious meal of comforting pasta shells stuffed with spinach and paneer in a creamy malai sauce. The filling, the sauce, simple spices...ooomph is high here! 

Have you wondered about having your traditional food flavors in a different form? This entree is a fusion of Indian and Italian cuisine. Roti or naan with palak aka spinach and paneer is a comfort meal. This pasta meal replicates the flavors of roti and palak paneer in pasta form, that too in a cheesy form! This sure is always a huge hit. Stuffed shells are always a pleaser!

I received samples of Gopi Paneer for creating recipes and the views expressed are my own. I highly recommend Gopi Paneer. The freshness of the paneer speaks for itself. It doesn't contain any fillers or starch or gum and is also low in sodium. These make the paneer stand out from any other brand.

To make this delicious entrée, you'll need

Jumbo shells - only jumbo shells work as it is easy to stuff them. I have used eggless pasta. Any brand of your choice can be used.
Gopi Paneer - Highly recommend this brand Paneer
Spinach - Fresh baby spinach works best
Onion and Garlic
Simple spices and salt
Cream - This makes the malai sauce
Almond flour - Thickener
Oil and butter

There are many ways to make palak paneer and since I stuffed the shells, I sautéed the spinach and with grated paneer and spices, the filling worked out fantastic. The sauce is a cream aka malai base. This sauce can be swapped for a tikka sauce (like in Paneer Tikka Poutine) or a curried alfredo sauce (Curried Alfredo Pasta). Try it in a simple marinara base. There are many possibilities to make it in different ways and each way is extremely delicious and comforting. Just play around and make comfort meals in endless ways.

Spinach and paneer as well as pasta is amazing! There are many ways spinach and pasta can be made with. A simple spinach pesto pasta or a soup with pasta and greens, Kale and Pasta Minestrone, is totally yum! There are endless possibilities to use spinach and pasta in a dish. In our Improv Cooking Challenge group, the two ingredients are spinach and pasta and this fusion meal of paneer and spinach stuffed shells in a delicious malai sauce is my share for the event. Nicole is hosting this event. 

Paneer is a house favorite and is a good source of proteins and calcium. I like to add it in salads, just like in this Rainbow Salad with Tandoori DressingChatpata Paneer Chole 7 Layer dipLayered Garbanzo Beans and Paneer Salad. Try this Paneer Tikka Poutine for a lip-smacking snack or meal! Paneer and Lentil Lasagna is yet another Italian-Indian fusion that we love.

Serves 2 -3
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

For the Paneer Spinach Filling

Onion - 1/2 cup, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves
Oil - 1 tbsp
Spinach - 3.5 cups, medium packed
Salt - 1/3 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Cayenne - 1/2 tsp
Gopi paneer - 1 cup, shredded
Tomato paste - 1/2 tsp
Mozzarella cheese - 1/4 cup, shredded

For the Malai Sauce

Butter - 1 tsp
Onion - 1/2 cup, chopped
Thai green chili - 1
Garlic - 1 clove
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Heavy cream - 1 cup
Almond flour - 2 tbsp
Gopi paneer - 1/4 cup, shredded

For the Pasta

Jumbo shells - 12


Mozzarella cheese - 1/2 to 3/4 cup, shredded
Pinenuts/almond (optional)
Dried methi leaves or any herbs of your choice
Chili flakes


For the Filling: Heat oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic, sauté for 4-5 minutes, until onion turns translucent. Add the spinach and sauté till it wilts, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the spinach mixture, paneer, salt, cayenne, garam masala, mozzarella cheese, tomato paste to a bowl and combine well. Set aside.

In the meantime, cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside.

For the Sauce: Grind the onion, garlic, and Thai chili to a paste with one or two tablespoon water as needed.

Heat butter in a pan, add the ground onion mixture and cook stirring often till all the water evaporates. This may take about 4-5 minutes. Add the salt, almond flour and cream, combine well, simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from flame.

Add the shredded paneer. Mix.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill each shell with a tablespoon of the filling.

Pour the sauce to a 9-in pie plate or a rectangle dish. Sprinkle a little chili flakes. Place the stuffed shells.

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese. Add dried herbs or toasted nuts of preferred

Bake covered for 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven. Cool a little and serve.

Here are the links to the recipe we shared for June 2022 edition of Improv Cooking Challenge. Thanks Nicole and Julie!