Recipe: Vegetarian Pad Thai

A few weeks ago John & I has lunch at Sweet Chili in Arlington and I’ve been craving pad thai ever since. Like anything I have at a restaurant and love, I immediately find a recipe and try to make it at home. Pad thai was a dish I knew I could handle: simple, veggie-based, and quick.

I did some recon, searching the internets high and wide for a recipe that looked good. I found a bunch of decent looking recipes (here, here, and here) but nothing spectacular. I decided to use them all as a guide but to make up my own ingredient list.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup shredded cabbage
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 baby bella mushrooms
1/2 red pepper, cubed
1 tbsp. soyaki sauce
2 tsp. satay peanut sauce
Rice noodles, quantity is hard to say when they are dried. Probably make 1.5 cups after boiling
(Not pictured) 1.5 tsbp. EVOO, salt & pepper, crushed red pepper flake, and a handful of crushed peanuts

Can you tell I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s? Holy cats.

I had big plans to make my own peanut sauce but while reading recipes I realized it would force me to partake in my number 1 cooking no-no: buying a bunch of random ingredients that I’d use once, that would then take up precious cabinet space, just for a tablespoon or so as part of a recipe. Sorry, I won’t do it! Here’s an example of a recipe I checked out. No thanks!

My problems were solved when I saw that Trader Joe’s makes their own peanut sauce (with minimal garbage in it and decent nutritional info). That paired with their Island Soyaki sauce, I was set!

I have to admit I’m a little embarrassed to have purchased bagged and prepped veggies.

I find breaking down and preparing vegetables to be a huge accomplishment whenever I cook. There’s something about starting with this insurmountable pile of raw goods and turning them into nourishing and delicious food.

Ah, but sometimes you have to take some help from the store, as Rachael Ray would say, because breaking down carrots into slivers and shredding up cabbage seemed like slave labor compared to the rest of my lovely and restful long weekend. So the only thing I really had to chop up was these here red peppers:

Tip: Don’t skip these! (Unless of course you are a freak and don’t like red peppers. I can’t even imagine that. They are so crisp, sweet, and fresh tasting! Freak!) Anyways, they added so much flavor to this dish, I really think something would have been lacking if these weren’t included.

Veggies in their portions:

These little dishes? Baby bowls from IKEA. They are my go-to prep bowls. Microwaveable, dishwasher safe, the perfect size – love them!

OK, everyone in the pool with the EVOO. I put these on medium-high heat. I wanted them to crisp up and quick.

Keep turning until they start to get soft:

When they got soft I added my pepper and crushed red pepper flake:

They’re getting darker!

I added they soyaki sauce when the veggies were about 2/3 of the way done. I like soy sauce but I find right out of the bottle it’s too bitter. I like to let it cook down and meld for a while before I eat it.

After the soy sauce is added the color starts to get really rich and dark, which is exactly what I was looking for:

Time for rice noodles! These were a medium width noodle (at Whole Foods we found small, medium, and large width noodles) and probably took about 6-8 minutes to boil to the right texture.

After draining I added the noodles and the satay peanut sauce to the saute pan and mixed together until it all looked uniform. Getting the noodles to cooperate was tough, I found using a knife and cutting them up a bit helped.

You’re done! Enjoy! This dish was so delicious, I’m still thinking about it!

And to top it all off, let’s continue with the TJ’s love and enjoy this tasty meal with Organic Tea & Lemonade, shall we? Fancy Arnold Palmer!

Some thoughts/tips:

– There are a million ways you could make this recipe.
Meat options are abundant: chicken, shrimp, tofu, seitan, or have it veg like I did.
You can swap in or out any ingredients you like! I may try this again with eggs, shallots, seasame seeds…the list goes on!

– This recipe would be really easy to size up or down. I made a single serving but think it would be just as easy to make a batch for 2, or even 4, people.

– Make your own peanut sauce! Just because I didn’t doesn’t mean it’s hard or that recipes are hard to find. On the contrary!

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

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