You know those days when the rain won’t end and all you want is to curl up on the couch with something comforting to eat?
Yeah, me too.
This time of year can do it for me. One day it’s sunny and 80 degrees, and then there’s a long stretch of cool and rainy days. My brain doesn’t know what season to look forward to.
When this happens I usually lean into something of the noodle variety. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a big bowl of white pasta.
Plain noodles don’t get you very far. Never mind that they are calorically dense, they don’t lend too much nutritional value either. That’s why I like to make noodle dishes with a lot of vegetables and add a vegetable noodle, like zucchini. This bulks up the noodles so you are eating less noodle, and more “zoodle”.
A win-win for your calorie budget and your health.
I love Pad Thai, but the restaurant version doesn’t really cut it. Too much sugar, too much fat and barely a vegetable to speak of.
I set out to change that.
It makes sense to try and cook this kind of dish at home since then you are in total control of what goes into the dish. I decided to create my own recipe and bulk up my dish with mushrooms and zucchini. In other words, make it a one pot dish and keep it as healthy as possible.
There are some ingredients that make Pad Thai what it is – tamarind and fish sauce to name a few. If you are not familiar with some of these more elusive ingredients, do not fear! Experimenting with new foods is part of the fun of cooking.
This dish has a couple of steps. It’s always best to read through the recipe, get your ingredients ready and then start cooking. It is called “mis en place.” The fancy French term for, “everything in its place” and it will make cooking so much easier if you have everything ready to go.
Try this healthy Pad Thai dish tonight and let me know what you think. It might become your new favorite family dinner!
Tofu and Shrimp Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles
Makes 4-6 servings
4 ounces dried, wide flat rice noodles
2 medium zucchini
1/3 cup tamarind concentrate**
3 tablespoons fish sauce**
2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or chili sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil, or other neutral oil, divided
1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 eggs, cracked and lightly beaten
1-pint shitake mushrooms, sliced
8 scallions, chopped
4 ounces of shrimp, peeled and cooked
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped coarsely
lime wedges, for serving
1. In a large heatproof bowl, add the rice noodles and pour boiling water to cover. Let stand for about 10 minutes, until soft. Then drain, rinse and set aside.
2. With a noodle peeler, make noodles with the zucchini (time-saving tip: you can buy store bought if desired, but I like to make them fresh). Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind, fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha sauce. Set aside.
4. In a large saute pan heat 1 tablespoon canola oil until almost smoking. Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden on both sides, about 7 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.
5. Add the other tablespoon of oil into the pan and add the eggs. Scramble until set. Add the mushrooms, scallions, and zucchini and saute for 3 minutes until the zucchini get soft.
6. Add in the rice noodles and toss until well combined with the zucchini and egg. Add in the tofu, shrimp and mung bean sprouts and combine well.
7. Drizzle the sauce over the noodle mixture and toss. When well combined sprinkle the noodles with the peanuts and serve with the lime wedges.
**tamarind and fish sauce can be found at Whole Foods or any supermarket that has an Asian foods section.