This is one of those recipes you see in your head and it you can’t stop thinking about it until you’ve taken a crack at it. What’s really satisfying is when the results are great–which is often not the case. I can’t tell you how happy this little meal made me. It was fairly simple to make, really pretty to look at, and it was–I’m channeling Mary Berry here–scrumptious.
I used a spiralizer to make the veggie noodles even though I hate to put a piece of precious kitchen equipment between anyone and a good recipe, but… if you’re trying to lean away from belly-inducing pasta, veggie noodles are a nice way to go. The main reason for me, aside from the fact I love vegetables, is they twirl. It’s not like spaghetti squash that–let’s face it–has no right wearing that name. Raking a bunch of mushy/grainy “noodles” out of the pit of a squash doesn’t cut it for me. However… you can successfully, and satisfyingly twirl a forkful of curly zucchini or cucumber the way you do a wheat noodle. And the veggie noodles–when using certain veg and cooking them the right way–have a very similar mouthfeel. Spiralizers used to be very expensive, but now you can get one for under $30.
But this recipe is really all about the sauce. It’s creamy and spicy and salty and sweet, but not too much of any one. The best thing is I ate a whopping plate of Pad Thai and felt full yet light as a feather.
All Veggie Pad Thai (serves 4)
For the sauce:
3/4 cup (180ml) almonds, toasted or sprouted depending on how raw you want to go
3/4 cup (80ml) coconut milk or 1-6oz. can
Juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp. (15ml) soy sauce
1 clove garlic
Jalapeno pepper–I used a piece about half an inch long, the whole thing–ribs, seeds and all. Use as much or as little as you like. Mine was mildly spicy.
3 large basil leaves–Thai or Italian
A few sprigs of cilantro
1 teaspoon (5ml) coconut palm sugar or another sweetener
For the base:
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and spiral sliced using the wide blade
2 medium cucumbers, spiral sliced, using the thin blade
2 carrots–I used purple–either spiral sliced using the thin blade, or grated
2 Tbsps. (30ml) olive oil
From here it’s your choice:
Mung bean sprouts
Sliced green onions
Julienned red bell peppers
Seeded and sliced tomato
To make the sauce, whiz the almonds in a food processor until the nuts are as broken down as possible and they’re starting to release their oil and turn into butter. Stop periodically to scrape down the bowl. You don’t need the nuts to turn completely into butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Make sure you don’t have chunks of Jalapeno or garlic in there.
You don’t have to cook anything, but I cooked the zucchini to make it a little more noodle-like. Everything else is was raw and crunchy. It was a nice contrast.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high. You want a short cooking time over fairly intense heat. You don’t want them to cook until mushy, but a little color is good.
Add the zucchini spirals and a pinch or two of salt and cook, stirring often, for about 2-3 minutes until the zucchini has softened a bit and the noodles are golden around the edges. It doesn’t all have to be cooked exactly the same. Some can still be a bit raw.
Make a bed with the zucchini noodles.
In a large bowl, toss the cucumber and any other veggies you’ve added with the sauce. Tongs work best for this. Add to the zucchini noodles.
Garnish with chopped, toasted almonds or this. Maybe some paper-thin jalapeno slices…