Monday, August 6, 2012

Meatless Monday: Spicy Peanut Pad Thai With Tofu and Veggies

Better than take-out...and WAY better for you!!!
I’ve been on the hunt for a good spicy peanut dish for a while now. Thai food is one of my faves and I was hoping to find a fairly easy recipe that I could tweak a bit to make my own. I ran across one that looked delicious on and it was on.

I followed the original recipe pretty closely but made a few healthy swaps. I changed the noodles to whole wheat thin spaghetti (not quite pad Thai but a better alternative), added fresh broccoli (since I had some in the fridge that I needed to use), and reduced the amount of sesame oil the original recipe called for. In addition, I used extra green onions and chili-garlic sauce to boost the flavor and heat, added water chestnuts for the crunch, and tossed in a little tofu for protein. You could use cooked chicken for your protein source, but since I’m using this recipe for Meatless Monday, tofu it is.
Here’s what I came up with.

Spicy Peanut Pad Thai With Tofu and Veggies
Serves 6

13 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti
3 tablespoons sesame oil (divided use)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (or ½ teaspoon dried ginger)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
3 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables, defrosted
¾ cup green onion, chopped
½ cup carrots, shredded or julienned
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained
1 cup firm tofu, cubed

Cook noodles according to package directions to al dente. Drain, rinse, and toss with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili-garlic sauce. Stir well and set aside. (Peanut butter will not blend in completely at room temperature. Don’t worry; it will melt in the skillet.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add stir-fry vegetables, green onion (set a little aside for garnish), carrots, broccoli, and water chestnuts, and sauté until heated through, about 4-5 minutes. Add tofu cubes and spicy peanut sauce to skillet and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Place noodles in a large bowl. Remove vegetables/tofu from heat and combine all skillet contents (including excess sauce) with the noodles. Toss well, garnish with a little extra green onion, and serve immediately.
When I’m testing new recipes, the kitchen ends up looking like a bomb went off in it when I’m done. In my opinion, it’s a necessary part of the process. Seriously, who has time to clean as you go when you’re totally focused on the creative process? When I finished this dish there were several mixing bowls, pans, utensils, and cutting boards scattered throughout the room and there was vegetable “shrapnel” everywhere. Success!

It smelled delicious and since it was late—close to 9:00 at night—the starving hubs was beginning to circle the kitchen like a hungry animal. (Before you get scared off, this recipe doesn’t take that long to prepare, I just started later in the evening than usual and I kept stopping to write things down or double check ingredients on the computer. Dicing/mincing the vegetables can be a little time consuming but if you have everything laid out and the tools you need close at hand, you’ll be fine.)
At any rate, I had been tasting the sauce throughout the cooking process and I promised him it would be worth waiting for. After making him suffer even longer while I took pictures of the food, I finally served it up. His response? “This is better than take-out!”

I couldn’t agree more. The sauce was really flavorful (totally worth making from scratch!), the veggies were tender yet crisp, and the tofu did its job of soaking up lots of the yummy sauce. My favorite addition, however, was the water chestnuts. They make all the crunchy difference in the world and I regularly add them to my Asian-inspired dishes. Since I cut back on the oil, tossed in more veggies, and made a few other healthy swaps, I felt a lot better eating this than I would traditional take-out food. It was tasty, filling, and will definitely be making appearances on our Meatless Monday meal plans in the future.

Until next time,

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