Eggplant Pad Thai (healthy + vegan..with a Paleo option!)

While I adore my spicy eggplant and tofu satay, curry has always been my number one go-to order at any Thai restaurant.

Until NOW.

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Oh Pad Thai–it just screams comfort food. Spicy, sweet, sticky, tangy, and savory comfort food. Before my health journey, I loved to inhale Pad Thai without any utensils! Unfortunately, Pad Thai is most certainly not a vegan-friendly option. Not only is it served with beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp, it naturally contains egg, fish sauce, or some sort of shrimp paste that yields that umami flavor. Of course, if you are not following a plant-based diet, you are more than welcome to serve this recipe with any animal protein or optional fish sauce and egg you desire. However, this recipe proves that you don’t really need any of that, and on top of that, you don’t even need rice noodles!

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That’s right, everyone. We’re not working with any wheat or grain-based pasta, shirataki noodles, kelp noodles, or even zucchini or spaghetti squash! Eggplant is back in the kitchen, ready to blow you away. In general, the shape of the eggplant makes it ideal for lasagna, but they also work perfectly like spaghetti or angel hair pasta! While a spiralizer or vegetable peeler will make slicing much quicker, you really only need a large and sharp knife and cutting board to make them. Seriously, eggplant is that magical, aside from being incredibly nutritious and tasty!

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Now I know quite a lot of people who currently follow a Paleo-based diet, which means they do not consume any legume-based or soy-based products. Fortunately, there are some easily convenient and equally delicious substitutions for those of you who either cannot or choose not to eat soy or legumes. Instead of the soy sauce, simply use coconut aminos, and replace the peanut butter with almond butter, cashew butter, or even sunflower seed butter if you cannot eat nuts either. The flavor of the nut or seed butter is definitely more pungent, so you’ll have to experiment by tasting the sauce before mixing it into the vegetables.

This recipe is made for two standard servings, but given my beastly appetite, I ate this entire batch of noodles for my mid-morning meal! I baked half a block of extra firm tofu to serve and garnished everything with some crushed red pepper flakes as well. It was the perfect savory twist to my sweet potato plates and my oatmeal bowls, and I will most certainly be trying out more eggplant noodle recipes in the future!

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RECIPE (eggplant noodles)

  • 1 eggplant, approximately 1 pound (if smaller or larger, you may have to adjust the measurements for the sauce)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, approximately 4 ounces
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 TBSP chopped garlic, approximately 6 cloves
  • Crushed red pepper (optional; to garnish)
  • Extra firm tofu (optional; to serve)
  • Optional: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, bean sprouts, carrots, snap peas, tofu, edamame, etc.

RECIPE (Pad Thai sauce)

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, tamari or teriyaki sauce; I used teriyaki sauce because I didn’t have soy sauce, plus my sauce was thin and salty enough to mask the soy sauce consistency
    • For the Paleo option, use coconut aminos!
    • If gluten free, use tamari sauce!
  • 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter (unless you want peanut chunks–which, hey, would taste amazing!); I used PB2 because all of my peanut butters were sweet flavored
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar or lime juice
    • For the Paleo option, use creamy cashew or almond butter!
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce; omit if you don’t want any spice
  • 1 tsp sweetener of choice; I used Monkfruit in the Raw, but you can use coconut sugar or any other dry sweetener of your liking

PROCEDURE

  1. If not using peanut butter powder, melt the peanut butter on the stovetop, oven, or microwave.
  2. Mix the peanut butter and the rest of the sauce ingredients in a bowl or a tall mug. Set aside.
  3. Cut the green bell pepper, mushrooms, and other desired vegetables into evenly-sized pieces.
  4. Slice off the eggplant stem and cut or spiralize the eggplant into noodle-like strips.
  5. Assemble the eggplant noodles, mushrooms, green bell pepper, and other ingredients in a large salad bowl.
  6. Carefully stir half the sauce into the vegetables, making sure everything is evenly coated.
  7. Marinate overnight, or for at least four hours. Leave the sauce overnight as well, as you will need it later. (You can definitely skip this step, though!)
  8. Set a large saucepan on medium heat and spray with nonstick spray if desired.
  9. When the bottom is warm enough, heat the garlic and turn the heat off until the garlic stops sputtering.
  10. Reheat the saucepan on medium-high heat.
  11. Add the marinated vegetables and eggplant “noodles” in the saucepan, mixing around.
  12. After everything is slightly softened, mix in the rest of the sauce, stirring gently.
  13. Cover the saucepan with a lid and turn the heat to low, mixing occasionally.
  14. When the eggplant is completely cooked and everything has softened with the sauce evenly mixed in, serve with crushed red pepper and baked tofu if desired!

What is your favorite dish in Thai cuisine? Have any wonderful go-to eggplant recipes?


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