Better-Than-Takeout Vegan Pad Thai
My husband and I have a monthly budget. Each year, we delineate the fine details of our individual spending habits, vow to eat out less often, and set a budget to keep us accountable.
But something dark happens when one of us sends the ominous text, "I'm craving Thai food tonight...thoughts?".
Something dark indeed.
Almost instantly, pad thai noodles, a dance party on our taste buds, and the fantasies of that authentic, salty-sweet-sour sauce begin to occupy our consciousness in place of where our usual financial goals reside.
And in light of this same, sticky scenario playing out year after year, I decided it was time I put an end the madness. After all, solving life's problems with delicious food is one of my all-time favorite past-times.
But, "Better-Than-Takeout Pad Thai"?!?!
Those are some lofty words, I'm aware.
Just like your favorite Thai takeout, this recipe falls somewhere in between authentic pad thai from the streets of Thailand, known for its distinct "fishy" aftertaste (YIKES, not my thing), and the over-simplified westernized versions on the internet that tend to lack the appropriate depth of flavor, are often too sweet & taste absolutely nothing like the real deal.
This recipe truly stacks up to your favorite Thai takeout - but without all the highly processed and refined oils, white sugar, flavor enhancers, or deep-fried genetically-modified soy. It also omits a common secret ingredient that many American Thai restaurants add to the dish to enhance its color and sweetness: ketchup. I KNOW. I too am not sure if I am completely horrified and disgusted, or mildly more attracted to my local Thai spot.
In addition to omitting some of the less healthy (and potentially less appetizing ingredients), this recipe is also delicately balanced with high-quality protein from organic non-GMO tofu, as well as an array of micronutrient-rich veggies like broccoli, onion, scallions and cilantro. Not to mention we've opted for whole-grain brown rice pad thai noodles here, whereas most restaurants use the white/refined alternative by default.
All in all, this recipe is an absolute favorite in our house and I hope you and your little tribe love it just the same. Ready in 15 minutes, perfectly balanced, and made with both your wellness goals and taste buds in mind, I present:
Better-Than-Takeout Vegan Pad Thai
cook time: 15-20 min
Makes 4 SERVINGS
For the Sauce
1.5 Tbsp tamarind paste
3 Tbsp packed coconut sugar
2 Tbsp vegan fish sauce
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
sriracha to taste (optional)
For the Pad Thai
1 Tbsp avocado or sesame oil
1 cup white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz. organic extra-firm tofu, sliced into bite-sized cubes (can use pre-browned, fried, baked or teriyaki-flavored varieties here as well)
2 heads broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets
12 oz. brown rice pad thai noodles
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bunch fresh scallions, chopped
2 Tbsp peanuts, crushed
Generous squeeze of lime
chili flakes for additional spice as desired (optional)
In a medium-size bowl, combine the sauce ingredients, stir well and taste to assess the flavor. Add a bit more sweet chili if you prefer a sweeter sauce, some more soy sauce for an extra punch of salt, additional lime juice for tang, or more sriracha for spice. Once adjusted to your liking, set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil in preparation to cook the pad thai noodles.
In the meantime, heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat and add in the avocado or sesame oil. Sauté the onions and garlic in the skillet for 3-4 minutes. Then add in the sliced tofu and sauté for another 5 or so minutes, or until lightly browned. Finally, add in the broccoli florets and sauté until just cooked and tender.
Cook the pad thai noodles as directed and strain. Add the cooked noodles as well as the prepared pad thai sauce into the skillet and toss together gently with tongs or two large spoons.
*Note: If cooking for only one or two people, I recommend setting some of the sauce aside to spice up the leftovers the following day - as the noodles tend to get somewhat dry in the fridge overnight.
Divide the pad thai into four bowls, garnish each with cilantro, chopped scallions, crushed peanuts, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime.
Serve immediately and ENJOY!
I hope you find this dish as cozy and flavorful as my family does.
For more personalized care or further information on plant-based proteins, dairy, meat or egg alternatives when it comes to Asian-inspired cooking, feel free to reach out privately. I LOVE sharing what I've learned over the years in the healthy recipe department with you all and spreading the wealth there.
For more veg-heavy decadence here on the site, be sure to check out my most recent recipes for Vegan Tofu Sushi Bowls, My Favorite Plant-Based Lasagna, or Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom & Thyme Risotto, linked respectively.
Cheers and thanks so much for dropping in today!
Until next time -
For more disease-fighting & drool-worthy
meal ideas, check out my other plant-powered recipes here: