Whenever I go out for Thai food, it’s always hard to look past the Pad Thai and try something new. It’s the classic dish that’s oh-so satisfying…for good reason! The crispy veggies and saucy noodles with their slightly spicy bite and blanket of crunchy peanuts are just so yummy.
I love finding ways to make my favorites at home. And it’s even better if I can find a way to make it even healthier. This variation on Pad Thai swaps out the standard rice noodles for zucchini noodles (zoodles) to make this a healthy, veggie-forward dish. Zoodles are a fabulous alternative for weeknight dinners when you’re craving the cozy, satisfying bite of noodles without the high carb count (which is part of what makes you feel so heavy after dinner). They can be made with a spiralizer or simply sliced thinly with a knife or on a mandolin then cut into long noodles.
While rice noodles have about 44 grams of carbs per cup, zucchini noodles have a little less than 4 grams. Whew! Plus, zucchinis are jam-packed with tons of essentials, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, dietary fiber, Potassium, and Omega-3 fatty acids—to name a few.
Listen, I’m not one to ever hate on carbs. Never, ever. They are magnificent, I adore them and we truly need them in our daily diets. But sometimes, it feels really virtuous to swap out a calorie-rich food to lighten up a dish or two throughout your week.
The only hitch I found while working on this recipe was the water content in zucchini. As the zoodles cook down, they tend to sweat a bit. This makes it tough for the yummy flavors of the sauce to coat all the veggies and give the dish the thick consistency that we know and love. With the addition of a tiny bit of flour whisked into the soy-honey mixture, we’re able to give the sauce enough body up front to combat the extra moisture in the pan. If you have any other ideas of how to fix this, let me know!
Vegetarian Rainbow Pad Thai with Zoodles
Total Time: 30 minutes
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/4 tablespoon honey
3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce, more (or less) to taste
2 teaspoons flour
FOR THE PAD THAI:
1 tablespooon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
2 large eggs
2 medium (or 1 extra large) zucchini
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Feel free to go lighter on the chili sauce if you’re not into spicy! Also, feel free to add more if you want more kick.
2. Prep all your veggies. Carefully, slice the zucchini length-wise into long, thin strips with a mandolin or sharp knife, then slice length-wise again to create noodles. (Or spiralize it!) Cut the onions and peppers into thin strips. Grate carrot with a boxed grater or julienne into thin strips. If your edamame are frozen, defrost now.
3. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Toss in the peppers and onions and stir to coat in oil. Let cook down for 3 minutes.
4. Make a space in the middle of the pan and crack both eggs in—make sure to break up the yolks a bit. Cook for 1 minute until the edges start to solidify, then stir egg throughout the veggies.
5. Add in the (defrosted) shelled edamame and carrots. Pour the sauce over and stir to coat. Let cook for 2 minutes.
6. Toss in the zucchini and let soften for 1 minute.
7. Stir in the chopped peanuts and cilantro. Remove from heat.
8. Serve immediately topped with extra peanut and cilantro.
Leftovers are delicious, much like the version from your favorite Thai restaurant. But! They may be a bit watery, if the zucchini releases more moisture. Simply drain off some of the liquid and reheat.