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Pad Thai used to be my favorite Asian dish until I realized that it had fish sauce in it. I boycotted Thai food for a while, but it turns out most restaurants will make it without the fish sauce if you ask nicely. Usually, it’s made with flat rice noodles, but my healthier version uses eggplant noodles instead.
Eggplant Noodle Pad Thai
Start by cutting the tofu into cubes and pressing for at least 20 minutes. I put mine in a single layer on a towel on top of a cutting board, covered it with another towel, a cookie sheet, and about seven cans of beans for weight.
Once pressed, toss the tofu with olive oil, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Place it in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake until crisp. I followed Kate’s recipe from Cookie + Kate. She has a full-blown tutorial for making the perfect crispy tofu. Check it out here.
For the Pad Thai, start by sauteeing the broccoli in a little bit of olive oil. You want it to be slightly browned and still crunchy, but not raw. Add the carrots and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes longer, until soft.
Peel your eggplant, then using either a mandolin or a knife, cut the eggplant into noodles. I used the largest julienne setting on my mandolin because I wanted wide pasta but it turned out cubed instead of flat. I think next time I’ll skip the julienne setting a simply cut large flat slices, then cut them into pasta by hand.
If you have a giant pan or wok, you might be able to cook everything together, but I had to cook mine in batches. If you’re like me and only have small pans, transfer the broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots to a large bowl. Add another tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pan, then throw in the eggplant. It’s ok to overcrowd the pan – the eggplant will shrink as it cooks. Be sure to stir/toss constantly. Tongs are your friend.
The eggplant shouldn’t take too long to cook. You want it to be soft but not mushy. When it is finished, add it to the bowl with the other vegetables along with the tofu.
The sauce is super simple. Just whisk everything together, then pour it over the vegetables and toss to coat everything. To serve, top each portion with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and a lime wedge.
This recipe is extremely versatile. You can add a scrambled egg for more protein, or substitute chicken for your non-veggie friends. You could add any of your commercial meat substitutes or any vegetables that you have on hand. I’ve seen similar recipes that use zucchini noodles, but I prefer eggplant since they keep their shape a bit better.