Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
A delicious pad thai dish made with colorful veggies, crispy tofu and spaghetti squash “noodles”. Features an easy, lip-smacking vegan pad thai sauce. Authentic flavors with a twist. Vegan & Gluten Free.
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Learning to be proud of my half Chinese, half French heritage is something that I’ve honestly had to grow into over time. Growing up, it wasn’t something I was amped about. Half?? Why couldn’t I be a whole of something?! Back then, it meant feeling like I never fully belonged to either side. It meant the occasional double-take when it was just my brother and I hanging out with my (very) Caucasian-looking dad. And it meant countless questions about my ethnicity - from strangers - who often couldn’t help themselves but ask: “what are you?”. I know they were just genuinely curious, but as a sensitive kid, it made me feel a bit like a weirdo.
At home, the cultural blurriness was a blessing in disguise. Especially in the kitchen. Sure, I ate my fair share of “normal” stuff, like kid-friendly peanut butter sandwiches, chicken noodle soup and boxed mac and cheese. But then again, I also thought stirfried pasta was a thing. And thank goodness my Asian mum insisted on cooking pasta in her beloved wok. Because wok-fried pasta is bomb.
I’m tapping into that half-Asian side with today’s recipe. It’s based off a classic pad thai, which was a dish I first learned to cook while traveling in Thailand. Although, I know you’re not here to just read about another standard pad thai recipe, so I made some “new school” modifications. The big difference here is a serious switch-up when it comes to the noodles. Spaghetti squash anyone? Oh and we’re pressing pause on the meat / eggs (yup, this one’s vegan).
I’m assuming most of you already know all about the wonders of spaghetti squash. Bake it in the oven - and then with the simple scrape of a fork, you have “noodles”. It’s kinda like... magic! And besides the fun scooping part, they’re also delicious, healthy and easy to prepare. In the spirit of full transparency, I’m not going to try and convince you that spaghetti squash noodles are exactly like the real thing. They’re not. That said, spaghetti squash is a great substitute for noodles when you want to be a little healthier and the sauce is the real star of the show.
Spaghetti squash noodles are definitely not “authentic” when it comes to pad thai, but this sauce makes the dish taste like the real deal. It’s only four ingredients, but when combined together it’s a total flavor bomb. The key to a good pad thai sauce is tamarind paste. Tamarind is a tree that grows a pod-like fruit. It has both a sweet and tart flavor, which makes it surprisingly hard to replicate. Honestly, I haven’t yet met a tamarind-free version of pad thai that I’ve liked, so I highly recommend you hop on over to an Asian grocery store and pick some up for yourself. You definitely won’t regret it. And while you’re there, pick up some cans of coconut milk and jackfruit while you’re at it.
Besides the tamarind, the rest of this dish is easy to pull together. The squash roasts while you bake the tofu. The oven makes the tofu super super crispy without deep-frying. And while those are baking, you’ll pre-cook your veggies in a hot wok or cast iron pan. Once your “noodles” are done, give everything a quick toss with the sauce and it’s a done deal! Top with chopped peanuts, cilantro and fresh lime slices - and serve warm.