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Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Has anyone else watched The Catch yet? It’s the new show by Shonda Rhimes (re: minor successes like Grey’s Anatomy, HTGAWM, Scandal). Honestly, I was a little hesitant, because who has that many hit shows in a row? Who has that many ideas for shows at all?? Of course, it completely blew me away. I love the main character, Mireille Enos. She’s in perfect company with Rhimes’ other fierce, female leads. Plus, she was seriously incredible in the Killing, which I used to watch in my “looking for a job” aka “working out and painting my nails” days when we first moved to Charleston. My only gripe with The Catch?  They have only aired TWO episodes. In the era of binge watching, how is that acceptable?

None of that was the point of this post. A few years ago, a friend made this fancy dish for me, Pad Thai, but used spaghetti squash as the noodles. This was before spaghetti squash became a household name, and I just figured that this friend was an incredible cook and could turn anything into a restaurant grade meal. I loved it so much, I immediately googled recipes and tried making it back home. But I could never quite find a match.

The secret’s in the sauce. My first taste was three years ago, and I’ve finally matched the incredible, authentic, tangy, peanut butter combination that makes this dish so delicious. I actually hadn’t made it in a while (as a result of post-fall squash burnout) when I decided to add it to the menu last week. It’s incredibly healthy, full of vitamins and protein. My base is now always the same, but I’ve done it with different meat (chicken, tofu–I know that’s not meat–and you can definitely do shrimp) and whatever vegetables are either about to go bad or I remember to put in my cart. Don’t be freaked out by the fish sauce, that’s where the authenticity comes from, and I promise, you won’t even remember it’s in the dish once you’ve eaten three servings at dinner.

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Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Ingredients

  • 2 medium spaghetti squash (I used 5 tiny ones that tempted me at Whole Foods)
  • Protein: 1 container of extra firm tofu, 1 lb chicken or the equivalent of shrimp
  • Vegetables: 1 large head broccoli cut into small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups), 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 small white onion, fresh snap peas, 2-3 medium vertically sliced carrots (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Scallions for garnish
  • Optional: 1 egg, scrambled dry
Sauce
  • 1/3 cup creamy, unsweetened peanut butter (if you only have sweetened, eliminate the sugar below)
  • 1.5 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 lime squeezed
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
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Directions

Wash and slice the spaghetti squash vertically. I usually have to hack mine with a really sharp knife. Bake at 375 for 40 min – 1 hour, depending on your oven, until you can easily pull the strands with a fork. Try not to overcook, it won’t taste as good if it’s mushy.

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Chop the veggies and the protein into bite-sized pieces. Prepare a large wok or pan with a high heat oil like grapeseed or filtered/flavorless coconut oil.

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Sautee the garlic until fragrant, about a minute, then add the vegetables and a dash of soy sauce. cook until tender but still slightly firm, about 5 minutes. Put aside in a large bowl.
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Stir fry the tofu, chicken or shrimp in the same wok with about a tsp of oil and a dash of soy sauce. I used tofu this time, and cooked it until the outside was slightly crispy, about 7-10  minutes. When the protein is done, set it aside in a bowl (or add to the vegetables).
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In a small bowl, add the soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and lime. Stir well.
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Add the peanut butter and mix with a whisk until creamy. It should be thick. Whisk the broth in slowly until you get your desired creaminess. I like mine very thin, so I used 1 cup broth. Set aside.
When the squash has cooled, use two forks to pull the spaghetti-like strands apart, adding them to a separate bowl. You’ll want about 5 cups. (Extra squash makes great leftover spaghetti, just add some sauce!).
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Pour the sauce over the spaghetti squash and toss.
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Gently add the vegetables and protein to the spaghetti squash/sauce mixture and mix until the sauce coats everything in the bowl.
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Top with scallions, cilantro and sriracha. Don’t expect leftovers.
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