Haaaaaaappy Thanksgiving! Today I bring you a healthy yet filling recipe that happens to be the perfect antidote to a weekend filled with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. Heck, you can even make it using leftovers if spaghetti squash happened to grace your dinner table this weekend. That recipe is spaghetti squash Pad Thai!
Like our good friend zucchini “noodles”, spaghetti squash is just begging to be dressed up like, and served in place of, pasta. Once it’s cooked, the flesh naturally pulls apart into long, thin strands that look just like–you guessed it–spaghetti. Nature really amazes me sometimes! (Check out my tips on cooking with spaghetti squash if you’re new to the vegetable.)
If you’re aiming to boost your vegetable intake or want to reduce the amount of processed carbohydrate products you consume, spaghetti squash will be right up your alley. It tastes great on its own, similar to butternut squash, but also happens to jive with many different flavour profiles, from savoury to spicy to sweet.
One of my favourite ways to enjoy spaghetti squash is to top it with warm tomato sauce, a couple of Italian meatballs and some grated Parm. It’s a light, filling dish that contains a fraction of the calories (and “white” carbs) of regular spaghetti. This recipe is a bit more involved than that, but the result is WAY tasty and well worth the effort.
As far as Pad Thai goes, this recipe obviously isn’t authentic. But it’s a pretty good approximation of the (Westernized) Thai takeout staple. I took a few cues from Pok Pok, Bon Appetit and even Joy of Cooking to write what I think is an easily reproducible recipe requiring only basic cooking skills and easy-to-find ingredients.
Most Pad Thai recipes I’ve seen call for sugar, but I left it out completely because the spaghetti squash is mildly sweet on its own. The “sauce” is therefore nothing but fish sauce, low-sodium soy sauce and sriracha (in place of Thai chiles which I didn’t have at the time).
I substituted the more traditional peanuts for cashews simply as a means of using up what I had on hand.
As for the vegetables, green beans aren’t really an authentic Pad Thai ingredient but I love the crunchy greenness they add to the dish. You can also add mung bean sprouts for added crunch and freshness.
I didn’t include a protein in this recipe, but you can easily add uncooked tofu, shrimp or chicken right after stir-frying the vegetables. Or, it being Thanksgiving and all, you could even toss in some cooked shredded turkey near the end of cooking!
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 cups green beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1-inch piece ginger, finely grated
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sriracha, or more to taste
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup crushed cashews
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash, cut side up, in a baking dish with 2 cups of water. Transfer to oven and bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender. Let squash cool until safe to handle.
- Working over a large bowl, use a fork to scoop out the squash flesh into the bowl (it will come apart in long spaghetti-like strands); discard the skin. Reserve squash.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and bell pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly softened but still crisp, about 2 minutes.
- Crack the egg into the pan and cook, stirring to scramble until just set, about 2 minutes. Mix the egg and vegetables together and then add the garlic, ginger and reserved spaghetti squash. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and sriracha, stirring to ensure the squash is evenly coated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions.
- Divide among individual serving plates, or arrange on one large serving platter, and sprinkle the cilantro and crushed cashews on top. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
- The spaghetti squash can be cooked ahead and refrigerated in a container until you're ready to make the stir-fry.
- To make this dish vegetarian, omit the fish sauce.