One thing I almost always do on Mondays is to fix up a big batch of something and portion it out as lunches for the week. I usually make something I like, but that my husband doesn’t enjoy. I don’t get bored easily with leftovers so it works out okay for me to be the only one eating it.
I’ve been craving pad thai lately, but didn’t have all of the ingredients to make any of my go-to recipes for this dish. I decided to create my own which was a little scary. I’m great at following recipes exactly or tweaking an existing recipe, but I don’t just wing it very often. This one actually turned out to be delicious! I like to call it:
What-I-Have-In-My-Fridge Tofu Pad Thai
(makes 5 very generous servings; could make 6-8 smaller servings as desired)
- 8oz uncooked rice noodles (You could also use thin spagetti or angel hair pasta, preferably whole wheat.)
- 14oz. extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 bunches of broccoli, about 4 cups
- 1 medium carrot or about 12 baby carrots
- 4 teaspoons peanut oil
- 1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce (I used reduced sodium.)
- 3 Tablespoons lime juice
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- pinch sugar
- 2 Tablespoons jalapeno peppers or green chile peppers, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
- fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley (whatever you have handy)
Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 1 hour or according to package directions. Drain well. (If you’re using thin spagetti or angel hair pasta, cook it according to the package directions.)
Press the moisture out of your tofu. Many people do this using paper towels. I prefer microfiber towels. I think they’re more absorbent and less wasteful.
First, lay your tofu on the towel in a single layer.
Top with another towel.
Top the whole thing with something flat and pretty heavy. (That’s a full tea kettle.)
Let stand until you’ve removed as much liquid as possible from the tofu. Then, transfter the tofu to a dish, drizzle with 1 Tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce and let it marinate.
Steam the broccoli and carrots until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. I’m a big fan of the Ziploc steamer bags for making 1-2 portions of steamed veggies, but I like to break out my Calphalon steamer pot for big jobs like this.
While your tofu marinates and your veggies steam, mix up your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tablespoons of your fish sauce or soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons water, 3 Tablespoons lime juice, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard and the pinch of sugar. (NOTE: I don’t really like my pad thai to be very sweet. If you do, adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.)
Place a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the peanut oil. Add your tofu and cook until heated through. You’ll want to turn your tofu so it cooks evenly, but be gentle so it doesn’t fall apart. Once it’s done, move it to a bowl, cover to keep warm and set aside.
Heat the other 2 teaspoons in your wok or skillet. Add the garlic and jalapeno or chile peppers. Heat just until they release their flavors, about 30 seconds.
Add in the noodles, then the sauce, then the veggies and tofu.
Cook, stirring to combine all of the layers, until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Gently toss in the bean sprouts.
Remove from heat and serve garnished with torn, fresh herbs.
I packaged up the leftovers, let them cool a little on the counter and then popped them in the fridge.
Cook once. Eat lunch all week. Good deal.
Do you ever cook ahead? What’s your strategy? What are your favorite things to make ahead?