This is a crazy thing, but I just tried pad thai for the very first time, just a few days ago. And I hated it. Okay okay, it had a few good things going on but the first problem may have been it lacked the most of what I wanted it to have. For example, my order came out to me with ONE leaf of cilantro on top.
Seriously, what good is that going to do :). Then it also had maybe 3 peanuts throughout the entire dish. Being an annoying foodie, I simply went and asked for more of both and it did offer much improvement once I added them.
The thing I think I will have a hard time getting used to is the texture of rice noodles. I’m so used to Italian pasta that the rice pasta seemed soggy to me. The texture kind of freaked me out.
Then there were the scrambled eggs that had the texture of rubber but in the first place they seem strange to me there anyway. I was sure a dish like this could grow on me but it would definitely require some tweaking, at least to that version I had tried at the restaurant.
With that said, what I’ve made here is something very similar to pad thai but also much different. I left out the fish sauce (another ingredient that’s going to take me a while to want to reach for), left out any shrimp or chicken as well as eggs, and I didn’t plan on leaving out tamarind paste but I couldn’t find any at the store (but after all is said and done I don’t think this needs it anyway), then of course I left out the rice noodles and replaced them with quinoa.
This is a vegetarian meal that doesn’t lack the flavor presence of protein, like chicken or shrimp (although you could definitely add them on if you’d like). I’ve eaten so much junk food lately that I was in the mood for making something healthy and nutritious, and this is just so.
And like I said, I wanted to make something pad thai like, that I actually liked. One of the best parts of making food at home is that you can make it just how you like. This recipe makes quite a bit so if you are making it, say for two people, you could definitely get away with making half of the recipe. Enjoy!
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A flavorful vegetarian salad that's bursting with bright Thai flavors!
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (or to taste)
- 4 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 cups dry quinoa
- 3 cups shredded red cabbage
- 2 cups matchstick carrots
- 8 oz bean sprouts*
- 1 cucumber , peeled and diced
- 4 green onions chopped
- 1 cup dry roasted peanuts , chopped (unsalted or lightly salted)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro , long stems removed
- Optional add-ins: cooked chicken , pork, shrimp or tofu
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Prepare quinoa according to directions listed on package.
To assemble salads (I just assembled each serving individually), layer cooked quinoa, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber, green onions and peanuts then garnish with plenty of cilantro.
Drizzle each serving with dressing to taste and serve.
*Raw bean sprouts should not be served to children, elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system. You can cook briefly to kill off potentially harmful bacteria by soaking in a vinegar water solution.