Do you remember your first bite of pad Thai? I don’t remember exactly when or where mine took place, but I vividly remember my omg-where-has-this-been-all-my-life reaction to the first bite. Hello, spicy peanutty goodness.
It happened sometime during college, as did so many other first food experiences. My super picky younger self had survived on granola bars, two-ingredient salads and pizza throughout high school. In college, my friends introduced me to all the cuisines I’d been missing out on in bland suburbia: Indian buffets! Pad Thai! Vegetarian sushi!
I’ve eaten my fair share of pad Thai in years since. I’ve never tried making it at home, though, so I couldn’t resist this fresh, vegetable “noodle” spin on pad Thai in David and Luise’s new cookbook, Green Kitchen Travels: Healthy Vegetarian Food Inspired by Our Adventures.
You may already be familiar with the couple’s blog, Green Kitchen Stories, which offers stunning, produce-driven recipes. David offered me a copy a while back, so I eagerly tore into the envelope when it finally landed on my doorstep. That’s when I had another omg-where-has-this-been-all-my-life reaction, but this time to a cookbook and its contents.
This book is gorgeous, you guys. Like, I want to make a cookbook but no cookbook of mine will ever compare to this book’s beauty. They filled it with photos of their travels and recipes inspired by said travels. (They snuck in a few of their adorable little Elsa, too.) It’s a coffee table-worthy cookbook that has been brightening up my kitchen island for days.
I dog-eared quite a few recipes, like the Mexican breakfast salad, crispy eggplant bites with honey and lime (inspired by Barcelona tapas), Sicilian caponata, Tuscan ribollita soup and almond butter blueberry cookies (discovered in New York).
I can vouch for this pad Thai—it’s really fresh, unique and delicious. It took me a little while to turn carrots, daikon and zucchini into noodles with my julienne peeler, but there is no actual cooking required, so it came together fairly quickly. Once you have your vegetables and tofu prepped, you just whip up that zippy peanut dressing and toss.
I mentioned this in the recipe itself, but you’ll definitely want to store the “noodles” and dressing separately if you won’t be eating it all at once. The sodium in the dressing pulls out the moisture in the noodles so you don’t want to let them sit for too long. Otherwise, you’re good to go!
- ¾ pound daikon radish, peeled
- 4 medium carrots, peeled
- ½ pound zucchini (or replace with an additional ½ pound bean sprouts)
- ½ pound (8 ounces) bean sprouts
- 4 green onions, finely sliced (white and green parts)
- 12 to 14 ounces organic extra-firm tofu, drained and very gently squeezed of excess moisture
- 1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra for serving
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, preferably black, plus extra for serving
- 4 small wedges of lime, for serving
- ½ cup peanut butter or almond butter
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- About 3 tablespoons water, to thin
- Prepare the vegetable noodles: Use a julienne peeler, mandoline, spiralizer or regular peeler to create noodles out of the radish, carrots and zucchini, if using. Transfer the noodles to a large serving bowl. Add the bean sprouts, onions, chopped cilantro and sesame seeds to the bowl.
- Slice the tofu: Halve your slab of tofu lengthwise through the middle so you have two large, 1-inch thick slabs. Stack the slabs on top of each other and slice them into 4 columns lengthwise, then turn the tofu and slice across the columns to make ¼-inch wide squares of tofu. Gently transfer the tofu to the serving bowl.
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary—the sauce should taste very bold at this point. (I added an extra little splash of tamari.)
- If you will not be serving all 4 portions immediately, portion off the amounts of vegetable/tofu mixture you need for now. Drizzle in enough dressing to coat the portioned amount. Use your hands to gently toss the mixture until every single strand is coating in dressing. Serve pad Thai with a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of extra chopped cilantro and sesame seeds. Store leftover vegetable/tofu mixture separately from the dressing and dress just before serving.
Make it vegan: Substitute agave nectar for the honey.
Make it gluten free: Be sure to use tamari, which is gluten free, instead of another soy sauce.
Prepare in advance: David and Luise suggest that the salad and peanut sauce, stored in separate containers, can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.
If you love this recipe: You'll also love my Thai Mango Cabbage Wraps with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Sauce, Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles, Peanut-Sesame Slaw with Soba Noodles and Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce.