Defining what makes a meal a good vegetarian main course is no easy task. Once you take the meat and potatoes off the plate, the format of dinner acquires a new freedom that we love.

Of course, we’re a little late to the party. Indian cooks mastered the art of vegetarian cooking long ago. Their recipes are a rich source of inspiration for us, since they produce dishes that are at once hearty, healthy, and flavorful, vegetarian food where you’d never think to miss the meat.

A good place to start is with Saag Paneer, which also goes by the name Palak Paneer. Unforgettable for its flavorful combination of freshly ground spices and silken spinach, you may have found that restaurant version of the dish are epically creamy–too rich for more than a few bites. At home, you have a change to balance the spicy-rich seesaw. We use fresh paneer cheese, which we crisp up in a pan. Towards the end, we finish with dollops of creamy yogurt, which add both tanginess and the appealing creaminess of dairy. One of our tricks for optimizing this dish is chopping the spinach after we’ve sautéed it. That helps the spinach really coat each morsel of cheese, helping you get a perfect bite each time: part crispy cheese, partly spicy, creamy spinach. You can get the full recipe over on our recipe card.

We’re happy to be participating in Food Network’s Fall Fest, a weekly blog tour of all the incredible produce we’ll be enjoying this season. This week, the topic is spinach! You can see the other bloggers’ delicious spinach creations by following the links below.

The Heritage Cook: Fresh Spinach with Maple Vinegar Vinaigrette
Blue Apron Blog: Saag Paneer at Home
Weelicious: Spinach Cake Muffins
Virtually Homemade: Creamy Spinach and Chicken Casserole
Haute Apple Pie: Parmesan Spinach, Broccoli and Chicken Bake
Red or Green: Spinach-Walnut Pesto on Bruschetta with Fried Egg
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spinach with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes
The Sensitive Epicure: Spanakopita Minus the -Opita
Taste With The Eyes: Spinach and Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce
Domesticate Me: Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette and a Fried Egg
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Crispy Spinach Latkes
Devour: How to Make Spinach Gnocchi
Dishin & Dishes: Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Arugula and Baby Spinach
FN Dish: Eat Your Spinach Sides