This Asian-inspired vegan and gluten-free Pad Thai is quick and easy to put together, and makes a colorful, healthy and satisfying dish.
Pad Thai is one of my favorite Asian-inspired dish ever and probably the one I order the most when I go for Thai food. I love everything about this dish: the sweet and tangy flavors, the stir-fried veggies (I’m crazy about vegetables… weird, right?), the crushed peanuts, and the rice noodles of course. Oh, and also I love rainbow color effect: isn’t it a pretty dish?
Traditionally Pad Thai comes with either chicken or beef, sometimes with shrimps, and for a vegan version with tofu most of the time. I like tofu in general and you can indeed find a bunch of tofu recipes on the blog, but for this specific recipe I intended to stick to the vegetables exclusively, looking for simple flavors only. If you want to add more protein to the dish however, you can add tofu and stir-fry it with the other veggies.
Other Asian-inspired recipes you should also try:
- Asian Tofu Broccoli Stir-Fry (vegan, gluten-free)
- Vegan Thai Peanut and Quinoa Salad (gluten-free)
- Easy Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles (vegan)
This easy Pad Thai version is ready in minutes and do not require any fancy ingredients such as fish sauce that you would usually need for a Pad Thai, and/or even tamarind (if you are looking for a fish sauce substitute in order to make it vegan). For the sauce, I just use soy sauce and combine it with maple syrup to make it sweet and sour. It’s basic, simple, and it works beautifully for a quick yet delicious meal!
What also makes the Pad Thai unique is the choice of rice noodles that you can find in the Asian section of the grocery store. Made out of rice flour and water, they are entirely gluten-free but keep in mind that they are also much more delicate and fragile than their wheat noodle counterparts. Because of this, you need to handle the cooking time with care in order to prevent the noodles to stick together. I recommend to give them a good stir right after you soak them in the boiling water, and another time halfway through. Once cooked and drained, you might need to give them another stir with oil before setting aside while you are stir-frying the veggies.
The choice of vegetables is pretty easy in a Pad Thai. Basically you could use any vegetable of your choice, or at least any of them you can easily stir-fry, making it easy for you to grab whatever you have in the fridge. My classic combo includes spring onions, broccoli florets and red pepper.
Other vegetable ideas you could also use:
- green beans
- bok choy
- mung bean sprouts
The final touch is also one of my favorite one: a handful of crushed peanuts added on top of the Pad Thai together with fresh cilantro. It brings a lovely fresh and crunchy addition to the Pad Thai. Some also like a drizzle of fresh lime juice, just before serving. I let you decide the choice of the toppings but please don’t skip the peanuts, they are what makes the Pad Thai so unique. In the end, you get a lovely sweet and sour dish, rather healthy, and also very satisfying.
- 200 g (7 oz) wide rice noodles*
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 1-2 garlic clove(s), finely sliced
- 1 hot red chilli, finely sliced
- ½ small broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 red pepper, finely sliced
- 2 carrots, shaved into ribbons with a speed peeler
- ¼ cup (30g) roasted & unsalted peanuts, crushed
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, to garnish
- 1 lime, to serve (optional)
- 5 Tablespoons gluten-free** soy sauce
- 2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup, adjust to taste
- Cook rice noodles according to the package instructions*, but do not cook them fully as you’ll give them another minute or two in the wok after. Drain, stir a little bit of oil through them to prevent them from sticking together, and set aside.
- Heat one Tablespoon of oil in a wok or a large frying pan. Once hot add spring onions, garlic and chilli, stirring constantly until fragrant. Transfer to a separate dish.
- Heat up another tablespoon of oil in the same wok / frying pan, and stir-fry broccoli, and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and carrot ribbons, and stir-fry until cooked yet still crunchy. Transfer all vegetables to a separate dish.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, and pour the sauce to the bottom of the wok / frying pan. Add in noodles and give them a good stir with the sauce. Add spring onions, chilli, garlic and stir-fried vegetables. Mix everything well and let it warm up, stirring the whole time, for a minute or two.
- Serve in plates and add the crushed peanuts on top with fresh cilantro and lime if using.
** Note that regular soy sauce contain gluten, so make sure the one you purchase if gluten-free if you are following a gluten-free diet.