Veggie-Packed Pad Thai
This Pad Thai is packed with lots of vegetables, has no refined sugar or artificial anything and comes together in under half an hour. It’ll go on your routine for a great quick, easy, fresh, and nutritious dinner.
Hi, I’m Lillian and I love vegetables. But that wasn’t always the case. When I was a kid, I remember going to shabu-shabu (a type of Japanese hot pot where you swish paper thin slices of beef and various vegetables at the table where the food is served. So good, you ought to try it) restaurants and watching my sister and mom eat vegetables and thinking, “WHY would you waste precious stomach space on THAT when you can have meat?” Granted, that meat was amazing. But my perspective and palate have changed significantly since childhood.
Veggies aren’t a neccessary evil! They are abundantly nutritious, and when prepared well, gloriously delicious. I’m convinced that anyone who claims they hate vegetables hasn’t had them done right. And cabbage is one vegetable that has a horrible reputation. Tell me, tell me, do you hate cabbage, too? Because if you do, we need to have a little friendly heart to heart, here. Cabbage is one of my absolute favorite vegetables, and I always have at least one variety stocked in my fridge. Besides the fact that I think it just tastes good, let’s talk about how that humble cabbage loves YOU (and deserves a little love in return). Cabbage is high in vitamin C, fiber, sulphur (which helps heal infection), antioxidants and other cancer-fighters, beta-carotene, Vitamin K (brain health), calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, helps reduce inflammation, and is a great detoxifier. I know, right?
Plus, it’s just so versatile. You can cut it into wedges, dice it, chop it, shave it, roast it, sauté it, add it to stir fry, toss it in practically any soup or hot pot, make cabbage rolls, pierogi, Chinese dumplings, serve it alongside tonkatsu, and … Pad Thai. Ohhhhhh my, do I love it in Pad Thai. And I don’t mean as a little garnish. When I make Pad Thai, that vibrant red cabbage is competing as the star of the show.
Weird, you say? I disagree. And so does my veggie-timid husband. See, when you slice the cabbage this paper thin, the flavor is evenly distributed, and the texture isn’t at all distracting. It’s the right kind of soft crunch among the noodles. The key is to use a really sharp, really thin mandolin slicer. My two favorites are this Kyocera adjustable slicer and this Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer. The Benriner is a little more versatile and sturdy, but I own both and use them probably every day. And unless you’ve got some mad knife skills, you just aren’t going to get results like the slicer can. If you don’t own one, put one of these on your wish list.
Along with the see-through shaved cabbage, I like to add a hefty amount of matchstick carrots (also cut with my Benriner on the medium tooth blade) for more color, flavor, and texture. Then the usual cilantro, scallion, and scrambled egg join in on the flavor party, and you’ve got yourself some dinner. I know I’m leaving out the traditional fish sauce and tamarind, but as this is meant to be an easy dinner, I decided to omit the harder-to-find ingredients. Authentic? Maybe not. But it still tastes amazing. Oh, just keep in mind that if the red cabbage touches the eggs, it’ll leech it’s color and leave some not-so-pretty green discoloration, so don’t toss it all together until you’re ready to eat. If you want to make a vegan version, swap out the eggs for some crispy pan-friend tofu.
A note about noodles. I know my blog is about cooking from scratch. And for the most part, I do. But I’m also a mom of 4 little kids with a pretty normal life, and I have my convenience foods, too. Rice noodles have a permanent place in my pantry. I don’t use brown rice noodles because I doubt they’ve eliminated phytic acid from the whole grain, so I stick to plain ol’ white rice noodles for this recipe. For Pad Thai I prefer to use the medium width rice noodles I can pick up at my Asian market for under $2 for a 1 lb package. Since you only need 8 oz for this dish, that’s less than $1 for noodles. Pretty good price, I’d say. You can also find rice noodles in the Asian food section of your grocery store, but you’ll pay a lot more for those.
Either way, add this to your menu for the week, and you won’t regret it. Enjoy!
- 8 ounces flat, medium wide rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably organic*
- neutral tasting oil, such as avocado or canola (preferably non-GMO or organic)
- 3 scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separated
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 3 large eggs, beaten with a tiny pinch of salt***
- 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, washed and roughly chopped
- 1/2 small~medium sized head of red cabbage, shaved**
- 5~6 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Soak the noodles in very hot (but not boiling) water for 15~20 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, lime juice, and soy sauce.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the egg and cook, gently pulling the curds to the center until just set. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Add another teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Add the whites of the scallions and the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15~30 seconds. Add the noodles and soy sauce mixture and toss to coat until the noodles are soft, about 1 minute. You may need to add water, a tablespoon at a time, to loosen the noodles if they absorb the sauce too quickly.
- Pour the noodles into a large serving bowl. Add the eggs, carrots, cabbage, green parts of the scallions, and cilantro. Toss all together just before serving.
- *make sure to use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free needs
- **using a mandolin slicer on the thinnest setting would be ideal
- ***Omit eggs and replace with drained, diced tofu for a vegan version. Just skip the step with the eggs in the instructions, season lightly with salt, and cook in a hot skillet until all sides are browned and crisp.
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