To my chagrin, our (only) local Thai restaurant recently shut down. After mourning the loss, I came up with this recipe partially to compensate for the lack of ethnic restaurant options around here. Not that this is real Thai food (hence the quotes around "Pad Thai")-- I'm guessing the authentic version doesn't contain spaghetti or ketchup. And this is a lot creamier and saucier than most Pad Thais I've seen (due to the peanut butter).
Part of my reasoning for using the ingredients I do is to make it accessible. After all, it's easy to find a Thai recipe that looks fantastic, but often it will contain at least one ingredient I've never heard of that's only available at specialty stores. However, everything on the list below can easily be found at any regular grocery store. In fact, most of the ingredients are things I usually keep around the house.
And don't let my strange combination of ingredients deter you-- this peanut butter-ketchup-spaghetti concoction is actually really scrumptious, despite how weird it sounds. It's so good, in fact, that maybe I didn't need the Thai restaurant after all...
- about 2/3 box (or about 10 ounces) Barilla Plus spaghetti
- 8 ounces fresh mung bean sprouts, rinsed
- 1 block (14 to 16 ounces) of extra-firm tofu
- 1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 TBS brown sugar
- 3 TBS lime juice
- 3 TBS ketchup
- 3 TBS canola or peanut oil
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- a pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 6 to 8 scallions, chopped (about a cup)
- chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges, for garnish (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, adding the sprouts to the pot for the last three minutes of cooking. When the pasta and sprouts are done, rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the block of tofu, pat dry with a clean tea towel, then slice the tofu into cubes. Pat dry again and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, veggie broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and ketchup, and set aside.
- Heat the oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and let it fry for several minutes on each side before carefully turning over. Continue cooking and turning like this until almost every side is golden and crispy on the edges. Then, turn once more and scoot all the tofu over to one side of the pan.
- On the open side of the pan, add the carrots, garlic and cayenne and cook, stirring just the carrot mixture, for a couple minutes, or until carrots are softened.
- Add the scallions, spaghetti and sauce and toss everything together until it's heated through.
- Serve garnished with peanuts, cilantro leaves and lime wedges if you want to get fancy.