I’m back with my first recipe post of 2019, and yes, it involves ALL of the vegetables and my favorite Pad Thai flavors. I’ve very intentionally included nearly every color of the rainbow for this antioxidant powerhouse of a meal: red and yellow bell peppers, carrot and zucchini noodles, purple cabbage, fresh cilantro and basil, plus lots of lime juice for that much-needed brightness that we all crave in January (where’s the sun?!).
I love rice noodles, but to be honest I overdid it on carbs and not much else in November/December, and I’m feeling like I need to make up for lost time on the veggie front right now. So, I swapped the rice noodles for a colorful combination of carrot and zucchini noodles, gave them a quick sauté to make them tender, then topped them with a super minimal 3 ingredient sauce—just soy (feel free to sub tamari if gluten-free), sweet chili sauce, and rice wine vinegar. That’s it!
Because this meal is basically 100% vegetables (unlike restaurant Pad Thai which is mostly noodles and junky oil, let’s be real), go generous on your portion size to make sure you don’t find yourself hungry an hour later. I also recommend serving your Vegetable Pad Thai with my crispy tofu for protein, and because it’s straight-up delicious. If you haven’t enjoyed tofu in the past, try the method I’ve outlined below and then report back. I’ve found that thoroughly pressing, marinating, then pan-frying my tofu with a little sesame (or peanut) oil makes all the difference in the world.
Top your Rainbow Pad Thai with chopped salted and roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and sriracha, if you like it spicy.
- ¼ cup soy sauce (sub tamari if gluten-free)
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 package (16 ounces) extra firm tofu, pressed for 30+ minutes then cubed
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce (sub tamari if gluten-free)
- 1½ tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 large carrots, spiralized
- 1 medium-large zucchini, spiralized
- sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
- ¾ ounce fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- lightly salted roasted peanuts, chopped
- toasted sesame seeds
- lime wedges
- sriracha (if you like it spicy)
- Marinate the tofu: In a shallow dish, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, and garlic. Add the tofu to the marinade, tossing to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- While the tofu marinates, make the sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Make the veggie noodles: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil followed by the carrot and zucchini noodles. Lightly season with salt and cook stirring occasionally until just barely tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, making sure to drain off any excess liquid. Set aside.
- Cook the tofu: In the same pan, add a small pour of sesame oil. Cook the tofu (discard or set aside the excess marinade for later use) over medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side, until browned and slightly crispy. It's helpful to give each piece a little space on all sides to brown. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Assemble the Pad Thai: To the bowl of carrot and zucchini noodles, add the cabbage, bell peppers, cilantro, basil, green onions, and tofu. Pour the sauce on top, then gently toss to combine. Taste and season with sea salt, if necessary. Portion into serving bowls and garnish with chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, lime wedges, and sriracha, if you like. Leftovers are great slightly warmed or straight from the fridge.
I use and recommend this $30 spiralizer. Make sure your carrots are large, otherwise they will be difficult to spiralize into noodles.
Peanut oil is also delicious in place of the toasted sesame oil.
If you're gluten-free, be sure to check the ingredients on the sweet chili sauce as some weirdly contain wheat. I use this gluten-free sweet chili sauce.
Recipe adapted from my 30-Minute Cucumber Noodle Pad Thai.