Plant Based 411
Pad Thai with Oodles of Zoodles and Noodles
By Nancy Eisman
Having fun with your food is a good thing, since many of us spend a considerable amount of time planning, shopping, preparing, and devouring our 3 square or 5 small meals a day. A current fun food trend is to take vegetables like summer squash and cut them into thin strips to replace noodles in different recipes. If you have a tool or machine that does this for you, that’s even more fun. And since a lot of people think pasta = bad and veggies = good, this spiralizing is not only a hoot but there are health benefits too.
You can totally replace the linguine, spaghetti, or fettuccini in a recipe with a like amount of zucchini, yellow squash, daikon, sweet potatoes, some root vegetables, chayote, or butternut squash. By doing this you’ll eliminate lots of carbs, and the gluten more and more people are having to or choosing to avoid, while adding a ton more fiber and nutrients to your dish.
If you’re ok with some pasta, but want to amp up the nutrition, combine noodles with the zoodles for the best of both worlds, like I did in this version of Pad Thai. This classic dish may be the most popular item on Thai restaurant menus, but since I don’t use fish sauce and eggs, and I’ve had versions too sweet and/or too sticky, making PT at home is my preference.
Since that sticky issue originates in the mis-soaking of the traditional rice noodles, I used a spinach fettuccini in its place and like it even better. Gluten-free pasta would also work in this recipe – I like the corn versions I’ve tried. The zoodles are a combination of zucchini and yellow summer squash, and their green, white, and yellow strands add color, fiber, nutrients, and extra texture. For even more vitamins, vivid green and yellow color, and delicious flavor, I tossed in some blanched young Chinese broccoli, yellow flowers and all. Beautiful.
As always, use my recipe as a guide, taking out anything that doesn’t work for you, and adding your favorite ingredients. No two versions of a recipe need be the same. Make it your own, and have some fun!
Pad Thai with Zoodles and Noodles
1½ tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons tamari or lite soy sauce
1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons nori, crushed
¼ cup water
1 medium zucchini, spiralized
1 medium yellow squash, spiralized
8 oz. package long pasta of your choice
½ bunch Chinese broccoli with flowers, cut into sticks
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tablespoons ginger, minced
1 shallot, diced
4 oz. firm tofu, crumbled
1 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of sea salt
4 green onions, chopped and divided in half
⅓ cup shredded carrots
1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed and divided in half
⅔ cup fresh basil leaves, thin strips
⅔ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1½ cups bean sprouts
Lime wedges for garnish
To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients until blended. Set aside.
To make the zoodles, trim the ends, spiralize, and set aside.
To make the noodles, cook the pasta and Chinese broccoli in boiling water until almost tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the zoodles to the mixture, cook another minute or so, test the zoodles for tenderness, turn off the heat, and drain out the hot water.
To make the Pad Thai, add the oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat, and then add the garlic, ginger, and shallots. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add the crumbled tofu, turmeric, and salt, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and half the green onions and stir to combine. Carefully add the oodles to the pan, with half the sauce, and combine until coated. Mix in half the peanuts (I used hot & spicy peanuts), and then stir in the basil and cilantro until combined. Cook 1 more minute, turn off the heat, garnish with the bean sprouts, the remaining green onions and peanuts, and the lime wedges.