Want to Eat Vegan and Sacrifice Nothing? Make This Saag Paneer

And other recipes for dinner inspiration

Thanks for visiting The Bittman Project, a place where food is everything (or pretty close).

It’s inevitable: Some days you haven’t planned anything to cook, the afternoon sneaks up on you, and all you can do is throw your hands up and say, “Gahhhh! What’s for dinner?” For those times when you need something fast, easy, and tasty, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few recipes to help you navigate this week.

Vegan Saag Paneer

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Take saag paneer — the classic Indian dish of fresh cheese and pureed spinach — and substitute both firm and silken tofu for the dairy, and bingo: vegan saag paneer. In the version pictured above, I added about a half a can of coconut milk to the silken tofu in step 1 and whisked until smooth. It makes for a saucier dish, but if you let it bubble for a few extra minutes in step 3, it’ll thicken up beautifully.


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger

  • 8 ounces silken tofu (about 1 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder or garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach, rinsed well and trimmed

  • 1 pound firm tofu (1 block), cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges for serving


1. Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften and begin to turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Put the silken tofu in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. (It will go through an awkward “broken” stage — just keep whisking until the mixture emulsifies.)

2. Add the curry powder, salt, and pepper to the onion mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about a minute. Start adding the spinach a handful at a time, until the pan is full. Stir frequently and adjust the heat as necessary so the spinach softens but doesn’t burn; when there’s room in the skillet, add more spinach and stir, repeating until all the spinach is used. Then cook, stirring occasionally, until the pan is almost dry, just another 1 or 2 minutes.

3. Add the silken tofu and cook, stirring constantly and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the mixture bubbles gently but steadily. add the firm tofu and cover. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the cubes are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. taste and adjust the seasoning and serve with the lemon wedges.

— Recipe from The VB6 Cookbook


Rice With Cabbage, Scrambled Eggs, and Scallions

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Tender, slightly crisp stir-fried cabbage, scrambled eggs, and crunchy sharp scallions are a stellar combination, and freshly made rice gives this dish a fluffy quality that’s different from standard fried rice; I like it a lot.


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 1 1⁄2 cups long-grain white rice

  • Salt

  • 1 small head Napa or Savoy cabbage (1 pound)

  • 4 eggs

  • 4 scallions

  • Soy sauce for serving


1. Put 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 1/2 cups rice, and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the rice is glossy and starting to color slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily but not vigorously. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until small craters appear on the surface, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over low heat. Trim, core, and quarter the cabbage. Cut each quarter crosswise into thin ribbons.

3. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the cabbage to the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is lightly browned and wilted (it should still have a little crunch), 6 to 8 minutes.

4. Crack the eggs into a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and beat them. Trim and chop the scallions.

5. Move the cabbage to one side of the skillet and add a drizzle of oil to the empty space if it looks dry. Add the eggs and cook, stirring constantly until they’re scrambled and set, a minute or two. Toss the eggs and cabbage together in the skillet and turn off the heat.

6. When small craters appear on the surface of the rice, tip the pot to see if any liquid remains. If so, cover and keep cooking until the rice is dry, checking every minute or two.

7. Add the cooked rice to the skillet with the cabbage and eggs. Add the scallions and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, passing soy sauce at the table.

—Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast


Pozole and Pork Chops

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Pozole, also known as hominy, is corn that has been processed with lime (or lye; in any case, calcium hydroxide) to remove the outer germ and bran. It is an intoxicatingly corny ingredient, but in its dried form it can take up to 4 hours to cook. Luckily, it also comes canned and ready to go, which makes this Mexican-inspired dish a weeknight treat.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 bone-in pork chops (about 2 pounds)

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 small head green cabbage (1 pound), cored, quartered and cut into wide ribbons

  • 1 tablespoon chile powder

  • One 15-ounce can hominy (2 cups), drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water

  • 4 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

  • Several sprigs fresh cilantro for garnish, chopped

  • Sour cream for garnish


1. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

2. When the pork chops are browned on both sides, remove them from the skillet and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to soften, 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon chile powder and cook, stirring once or twice, until fragrant, a minute or two.

3. When the chile powder is fragrant, add the cabbage and hominy to the pot, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and 1 cup stock or water. Nestle the pork chops back into the skillet and adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily but not vigorously. Cover and cook until the cabbage and pork chops are tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

4. When the cabbage and pork chops are tender, divide the mixture among 4 plates or shallow bowls, spooning a little extra liquid over the top.

5. Garnish with the radishes, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream and serve immediately.

—Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast