You might be tempted to just order some Thai food from your local joint, but you can make a fresh and fragrant version of Pad Thai at home with the help of a little unexpected ingredient. Dates are a staple in our pantry – we use them for tons of raw desserts and in our morning green smoothies, but when blended with savory flavours like miso, sesame and lime, it tastes very similar to tamarind paste, which is the traditional base of pad Thai sauce (not ketchup, as some restaurants would have you believe!) Try this vegan Pad Thai and you’ll be convinced that healthy home-style cooking is far better than soggy takeout.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

888_vegan-pad-thai

Ingredients:

Sauce:
10 medjool dates, pitted
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Siracha
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons miso paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Pad Thai:
200 grams brown rice fettuccine noodles (or flat rice noodles)
350 grams medium firm tofu
2 tablespoons coconut oil (for frying)
½ cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
3 cups bean sprouts
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped roasted cashews (or peanuts)

Directions:

1. Let dates soak in water for 15 minutes.
2. Drain the water from the tofu and let it sit in paper towel for 10-15 minutes to get rid of excess moisture. Then cut into cubes.
3. Drain and rinse dates from soaking water. Then place them in a high-powered blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth and set aside.
4. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the noodles. Once the water is at a rolling boil, toss in the noodles and stir occasionally while they cook for approximately 10 minutes. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside in a colander.
5. Meanwhile, heat a large pan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and cubes of tofu. After 4-5 minutes, flip the cubes to another side to crisp. Flip the cubes every 2 minutes to get each side golden brown.
6. When the tofu cubes are golden brown all around, add ¼ cup of the sauce to the pan and coat the pieces evenly, cooking over the heat for another minute. Remove tofu from the pan and set aside. You’ll toss tofu into the vegetables and noodles near the end of cooking time.
7. In the same pan over medium heat, add another 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently.
8. Add in minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
9. Then add in broccoli and sprouts (you might want to leave a small amount of raw sprouts aside as a garnish on top of the finished pad Thai) and cook for another 4-5 minutes stirring frequently.
10. Pour in half the amount of sauce remaining, toss to coat all the veggies and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
11. Add in the cooked noodles and remaining sauce, turn the heat down to low, toss to coat everything in sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes. At this stage you can adjust the spice level if you desire by adding another 1-2 teaspoons of Sriracha.
12. Serve immediately and top with green onion, cilantro, raw sprouts and chopped cashews (or peanuts).

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