After a long week of holiday eating, I’m always looking for a quick and healthy meal to combat the holiday pounds! Especially in the few days between Christmas and New Years, it’s nice to get some healthy eating in. I’ve experimented with this spicy broccoli Pad Thai dish a few times now and I love the results. Traditional Pad Thai dishes usually have some sort of meat (shrimp or pork are the most common I think), but this veggie version is a nice change.
The sauce is spicy enough to give tons of flavor to the dish and I don’t really miss the meat!
This dish is very flexible. I’ve made it twice now two completely different ways. The sauce is very adjustable and I’ve topped it with peanuts or cashews, different kinds of sprouts, and scallions one time and cilantro one time. So go crazy with it!
1) Chop off all florets from the broccoli, cutting them so they are basically the same size. Peel the stalk and chop it as well (optional).
2) Par-cook the broccoli until it’s cooked but still slightly crunchy. You could do this in a pan or other options to cooking the broccoli are to use a steamer for four minutes or blanching the florets in salted, boiling water for about 3 minutes and then shock them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. They should be bright green when they’re done and cooked but still slightly crunchy.
3) Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. This should involve putting them in boiling water (off the heat) for about 15 minutes. Remember to use a lot of water (one gallon per package). Also, be sure to stir every few minutes.
4) Drain the noodles through a colander and give them a rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
5) Lightly beat a few eggs.
6) Whisk sauce ingredients up in a bowl.
7) Add sauce to a hot pan or wok. Once it is hot, add all noodles and begin stirring to combine the noodles and the sauce for a few minutes.
8) Once the noodles are hot and the sauce is reducing, add eggs and stir more. The eggs should cook almost instantly.
9) Add broccoli and keep stirring.
10) After a minute or two of cooking, it should be done. The sauce should be reduced down and thick and the noodles and broccoli should be hot and the egg cooked.
11) Serve with toppings – sprouts, nuts, soy sauce, chili sauce, etc.
Preparing the Broccoli
The first thing I like to do for this meal is prep the broccoli. Start by chopping off all the florets. If some are larger, cut them in half so they are basically the same size. If you wanted to you could peel the broccoli stalk and chop it up as well. I just used the florets though.
Next, you want to par-cook the broccoli until it’s cooked but still slightly crunchy. Soggy broccoli does not make a good Pad Thai. If you have a steamer, that’s probably the easiest, but I also made this one time and blanched the florets in salted, boiling water for about 4 minutes and then shocked them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. That worked just as well as steaming. If you are steaming though, they’ll probably take about 5 minutes. They should be bright green when they’re done and cooked but still slightly crunchy.
Preparing the Other Ingredients
Besides the broccoli, there’s a few other things you need to get ready for the meal. First, is the noodles. Basically, just cook them according to the directions on the package. This should involve putting them in boiling water (off the heat) for about 15 minutes. The two important things to remember about rice noodles is to make sure you use a lot of water. One gallon per package is probably good. Also, be sure to give them a stir every few minutes. If you don’t do these things, the noodles have a tendency to stick together and you’ll end up with clumps of uncooked noodles in your Pad Thai.
Once your noodles are cooked, drain them through a colander and give them a rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Also, lightly beat a few eggs!
Making the Sauce
While your broccoli or noodles are cooking, you need to prepare the sauce. These are a few of the things you will need. You’ll also want some soy sauce and ginger for sure.
Basically, just whisk everything up in a bowl. I think it’s pretty important to taste this and adjust for your taste buds. I consider my version above to be middle of the road spicy. It’s an incredibly flexible recipe though so taste a tiny bit and adjust. The sauce should be pretty intense because it has to flavor a lot of noodles and broccoli.
Cooking the Pad Thai
It’s important to have all your ingredients ready before you start. This dish goes pretty fast, especially if you have a good wok. If you don’t, you can still make this dish though. I made it once just using my largest skillet and it was extremely edible.
To start, add your sauce to a hot pan. It will sizzle and bubble and start to reduce immediately. Once it is hot, add all your noodles and begin stirring to combine the noodles and the sauce. If you have a good hot wok, this will go very quickly – just a few minutes will do the trick for sure.
Once the noodles are hot and the sauce is reducing, add your eggs and stir more. The eggs should cook almost instantly. Then add your broccoli to the party! Again, this is a stir fry. Not a let-sit fry. So keep stirring it!
After a minute or two of cooking, it should be done. The sauce should be reduced down and thick and the noodles and broccoli should be hot and the egg cooked. The real fun of this dish involves toppings. I like to put out a bunch of bowls of various toppings (above in the recipe) that people can add to their individual servings.
I think some sprouts, a few nuts, and a good drizzle of extra soy sauce or chili sauce makes for a good version.
Start to finish this dish takes about 30-45 minutes to make depending on how good you are at multi-tasking and how hot you can get your pan or wok. It feeds a family and is pretty economical if you have a well-stocked pantry. All I needed to buy for my version was broccoli, rice noodles, limes, and ginger. It’s great the next day for leftovers also!
I haven’t experimented too much with Thai dishes like this, but I found it pretty straightforward and was as good as most (but not all) Pad Thais that I’ve ordered for take out. If you are looking for something healthy and quick this week, give it a shot!