I'm calling this dish Pad Thai 'cause that's what it seems closest to but it's not really Pad Thai. It's not made in a wok nor does it call for some of the essential ingredients that make up that classic favorite. But if you're looking for an easy weeknight dish that includes slurpy rice stick noodles, chicken and veggies that makes you feel like you're eating Pad Thai, I think we know what you're eating for dinner tonight.
If I had to pinpoint one kind of food that I hanker after, it would be Asian inspired dishes. At last count there are about 20 different ones here on the site and that doesn't even count sides or anything! I've even shared another recipe for Pad Thai (also delish) but it's different enough from this one that I've decided to let the doubling slide. Don't know what it is but that noodle, veggie chicken combo grabs hold and won't let go! I've even been known to postpone carefully planned meals with a last minute Asian favorite. Makes me feel like I'm taking a break from the routine!
You can sub in or out any veggie or protein you like or don't which is another win-win feature of this dish. In this particular version, I've paired thin stick rice noodles with tender chicken strips, crunchy red peppers, carrots, bean sprouts and zucchini, sautéed shallots and scallions, a scrambled egg and chopped, sautéed peanuts. And everything is coated in a light sweet and spicy sauce that doesn't overpower, but allows all the individual flavors to shine through. Be still my heart!!
And if you still need another reason to justify making this, take this into account: even though there are noodles involved, the dish is still somehow light so you don't get that weighted down feeling you do when you eat a big bowl of pasta, making it just right for lighter, warmer weather eating. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Tonight's regularly scheduled dinner may just get preempted because after writing this, I'm starting to get that Pad Thai craving again. Here's to the meal in a bowl (and I'm crossing my fingers that there are leftovers because this is fantastic cold the next day for lunch!)
Skinny Noodle Chicken Pad Thai
Makes at least 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 8 ounces Thai rice stick noodles
- 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
- A generous handful of chopped peanuts
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 small zucchini, cut into cubes
- 4-5 scallions, chopped
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 packed tablespoons brown sugar
- Scant teaspoon Sriracha sauce (use more if you want the dish to be spicier)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- The juice of one lime (optional)
1. Place the rice noodles in a sturdy large bowl and cover with very hot water. Let stand for 10 minutes until flexible but not entirely soft. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
2. Place a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and when very hot, add the chicken. Stir-fry for several minutes until the chicken is cooked through and starting to get a bit browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of the oil to the pan and sauté the peanuts for 1 minute, until golden. Transfer to a small plate and set aside. Add 1 more tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and sauté the red pepper, carrots, zucchini, scallions shallot and garlic, cooking until the veggies are tender but still a bit crisp. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha and softened noodles and toss to coat well. Let cook for about 2 minutes so that the noodles start to absorb the liquid.
3. Push the mixture to one side and add the egg, stirring constantly so it scrambles. Now add the chicken back in and give everything a good stir. Let cook for a minute or two so the ingredients have a chance to meld together. Remove from the heat and stir in the bean sprouts and peanuts and drizzle with the lime juice (if using). Serve immediately.
4. This keeps well in the fridge covered for several days and is delicious cold or reheated.
Note: Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Healthy Dish of the Day by Kate McMillan. I really tinkered a lot with this. Added lots more veggies--feel free to experiment.