The second recipe in the series from our “Kids Cook Monday” cooking classes, in which we invite child-parent cooking teams to join us (ten-year old daughter and her mother) to create a healthy, whole foods dinner full of color, flavor and fun is an Asian-style noodles and vegetable dish.
As my cooking partner, my daughter is as involved in the menu planning as in the preparation. Her pick for the main dish was a home-cooked version of a restaurant favorite, Pad Thai. We added more vegetables and tofu than your typical take-out, and skipped the shrimp (for Meatless Monday and sustainability reasons).
Pad Thai-Inspired Rice Noodle Stir-Fry with Tofu and Vegetables
- 2 tablespoons grape seed oil, coconut oil or peanut oil
- 1 package of tofu (use pressed tofu, if you can find it, or press yourself for best results)
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
- 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- juice of 1 lime
- ¼ cup tamari soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- several grinds of black pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
- 1 bell pepper, cut into pieces
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 eggs
- 8 oz rice stick noodles (can substitute with spaghetti if hard to find)
Nice additions and garnishes include (all optional):
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into small rounds
- 8 oz bean sprouts, rinsed
- 1/3 cup peanuts, roughly chopped, if you like
- 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly cut and some leaves reserved for garnish
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- sriracha sauce
- Dry and/or press tofu – either place tofu between two plates in the sink, with something heavy on top (such as a large can) and let sit for several hours, or cut into slices, lay them on a kitchen towel, place another towel on top and gentle press to pull the moisture out of the tofu. If you like gadgets, here’s a tofu press made just for this job. Cut into cubes.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and let warm.
- Once first piece of tofu sizzles in the pan, place all cubes in a single layer making sure not to overcrowd them.
- Shake pan gently to make sure tofu isn’t sticking, and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes or until a golden crust starts to creep up the sides. Turn tofu and give the other side a few minutes to brown.
- Remove from heat, and place tofu on paper towels to drain.
Making the Sauce:
- In a small bowl, dissolve tamarind paste and sugar in warm water (take the time to fully dissolve them).
- Add lime juice, soy sauce, chili flakes and pepper and mix.
Softening the Noodles:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook noodles for 5-6 minutes, removing from heat and draining just before being fully cooked.
Preparing Vegetables & Assembly:
- Chop vegetables into small pieces and mince or press garlic. There is plenty of room for flexibility in this recipe. For flavor and appearance, it is nice to use three vegetables of different colors, but they don’t need to be carrots, a red pepper and broccoli.
- Heat oil in large skillet or wok on medium heat, and sauté onions, carrots and broccoli, add garlic and peppers a few minutes later and sauté another minute or two.
- Beat eggs in a small bowl, pour into vegetables, cook for a moment, then stir.
- Add tofu, cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add noodles and pour in the sauce. Gently combine all.
- Add half the scallions, bean sprouts and peanuts (if using).
- Place remaining scallions, bean sprouts, peanuts in bowls along with cilantro and lime wedges as garnishes for personalizing plates.