Get your healthy pad thai on! Zucchini pad thai with grilled chicken or tempeh is a summer hit for when you’re craving take-out. Watch out for all the fresh basil and raw zucchini noodles you can make without a spiralizer!
Zucchini pad thai with ultra thin zucchini noodles, a flavor packed sauce to use for both the noodles and the marinade, and one more idea you can whip together with ALL THOSE BLOODY ZUCCHINIS! It’s true, whether you garden or join a farm share, you know. The summer squash (zucchini, yellow zucchini, patty pan,) is always out of control. Summer time is a constant game of “how am I going to eat all this zucchini”. Sticking with my summer series on “what to do with your CSA farm share” I knew zucchini was a match to be met. This zucchini pad thai is one more pawn on your side.
While I’m totally in support of the spiraled vegetable trend, I am not too keen to go out and spend money for one more clunky tool to clog up my kitchen. Especially when you can just as easily make them with a vegetable peeler and a knife, which in my opinion is better for zucchini pad thai as they more closely resemble rice noodles. I’ll show you how I figured out this cool veg noodle trick.
WHAT’S IN SEASON THIS WEEK | JULY 26-AUGUST 1
I am really hoping this series is helpful to you as you cook your way through the farm markets and CSA shares this summer. Let me know what has worked well and if anything hasn’t. Finding you have a lot of something you don’t know what to do with? Send me an email or a comment and I’ll work hard at finding a solution.
FOODS YOU’LL LIKELY FIND AT FARMER’S MARKETS OR IN YOUR FARM SHARE THIS WEEK:
- Summer squash- zucchini, yellow zucchini, patty pan*
- Green onions*
- Swiss Chard
- Napa Cabbage
The asterisked items are featured in this recipe.
ZUCCHINI PAD THAI
My partner, Jazz, hates zucchini. Nevertheless he loves this zucchini pad thai. Something about keeping the zucchini raw prevents the zucchini from becoming mushy while also absorbing all the flavor of the pad thai sauce. Tossed with shaved carrots, , green onion, cilantro, basil and chopped peanuts, zucchini pad thai is healthy and FULL of flavor
PAD THAI SAUCE
What really makes this zucchini pad thai is the sauce as it both dresses the zucchini noodles and serves as the base for the protein marinade. It is packed with flavor from lemongrass, lime, fresh ginger, garlic, chili paste, and soy sauce but it very easy to make as you whip it together in a blender. No fine dicing or grating necessary. Pad thai sauce is often packed with loads of brown sugar but this sauce is naturally sweetened by a handful of dates making this a great dish for anyone looking to reduce that refined sugar.
I came up with this trick to making zucchini noodles without a spiralizer a few months ago. Stubborness has kept me from buying a new kitchen tool (those minimalism feels are strong), so I tried loads of different methods to get that zucchini noodle down. But none seemed to give you a true noodle texture. I have been making shaved carrots with a vegetable peeler for some time and decided to try it out with a zucchini. The vegetable peeler cut them perfectly. As they were too wide to warrant even a pappardelle noodle I decided to stack the zucchini shavings on top of each other and cut them lengthwise. The result was a thin, noodle you can easily spin on your fork. Perfecto!
As with many of my recipes here on POP KITCHEN, I wanted to make this something versatile for both vegans and omnivores a like. Prepared basically the same way, I interchanged chicken and tempeh. Tempeh, a cake of fermented soy beans, is my favorite plant based protein. It is nutty, and when cooked properly really takes on flavor. Toss your protein of choice with the marinade and let it sit for an hour to up to one day. To prepare the tempeh, I scored and parboiled it to remove any bitterness, help it absorb the marinade, and keep it from drying out on the grill.
You can cook both the chicken and tempeh on the grill. I loved them both, but to be honest, the tempeh won out in my opinion.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Grill that chicken or tempeh, toss them zucchini noodles, and get to work. My favorite part about this meals is all the fresh herbs and bold thai inspired flavors. Have an avocado lying around? Throw that in too!
When you’re stuck on your next move in the game of summer zucchini, zucchini pad thai is your new checkmate. It uses up 4 large zucchinis in one meal, is crazy healthy, and is très delicious. Way to eat local like a champ friends!
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- 2 inches fresh lemongrass, roughly chopped (usually in the fresh herb or ethnic vegetable section at the grocery store)
- zest and juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp juice)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 6 dates, pitted
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (optional)
- 3 Tbsp rice or white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1 8 oz package organic tempeh
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 4 zucchini
- 2 carrots, shaved into ribbons
- 1 green onion, diced on an angle
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup roughly chopped basil
- pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup chopped peanuts
- PAD THAI SAUCE: In a blender or food processor, combine the lime zest and juice, lemongrass, tomato paste, dates, ginger, olive oil, soy sauce, chili paste and garlic. Purée until smooth. Set aside ½ a cup of the sauce for the pad thai noodles. The remaining sauce use for the marinade.
- TEMPEH: If you are using tempeh you will need to score and par boil it before marinating. Fill a sauté pan with water and bring it to a boil. While the water is heating up, gently run a pairing knife along the top of the tempeh in a cross hatch pattern. Just barely cut the tempeh or it will break apart. Place the tempeh in the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, flip over, and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the tempeh from the water onto a towel to dry. Be careful discarding any hot liquids.
- MARINADE: In a large bowl, stir together the remaining pad thai sauce, vinegar, and the green onion. Place the chicken or tempeh in the marinade and gently stir to coat. For best results, allow to sit in the fridge for 1 hour to up to 12 hours.
- GRILL: Heat your grill on high until it reaches 400 F/200 C. Brush the chicken or tempeh with some olive oil and place it on the grill. Immediately turn the heat down as low as it can go. Brush extra marinade over top of the chicken or tempeh, being sure to get the green onions on top. Cover the grill and cook, flipping periodically and brushing with marinade until the chicken reaches 165 F/74 C or the tempeh is heated through. My chicken took about 20 minutes and the tempeh took 15.
- ZUCCHINI NOODLES: Using a vegetable peeler, shave down your zucchini to make one large cross section of your zucchini. Do this in the same place without turning until it is shaved to the bottom. Stack the zucchini shavings on top of each other and cut lengthwise into thick noodles. It will work best to do this one zucchini at a time.
- PAD THAI: In a large bowl, add the zucchini noodles, carrot ribbons, green onions, cilantro, basil, salt, and the pad thai sauce. If you want a warm version of this dish, heat the pad thai sauce in the microwave first and heat it up. Toss the noodles to coat. Sprinkle the noodles with chopped peanuts and garnish with fresh basil or a lime wedge. Serve the pad thai with the grilled chicken or tempeh. Also great with sliced avocado