Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rainbow Raw Pad Thai

Every time I return from a glutenous weekend away, I gravitate towards vegan food. Maybe my body is going through vegetable withdrawal. Or is it simply responding to the fat- and salt-laden meals with a craving for the total opposite? Either way, it's something I am acutely aware of, since I do generally eat carnivorous or pescatarian protein sources daily.

This vegan inkling emerged again over the weekend, despite having travelled nowhere. Instead, it arose as a reactionary to the gorge-with-abandon attitude I seem to have adopted this holiday season. Party after party, event after event, I've embraced one more cookie, said yes! to an extra glass of champagne. All of which is fine, but clearly, my body is asking for some recalibration.

Enter Rainbow Raw Pad Thai. A silky, almond butter-lime dressing decadently envelopes slivered carrots, cabbage, red pepper, and zucchini; most noteworthy is their crunchy texture and uncooked sweetness. Sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and edamame provide ample protein to ensure each bowl yields a satisfying main course. This recipe is vegan food at its finest—in other words, its so delicious, so flavorful yet nutritious, that acknowledging the lack of animal-based protein comes as an afterthought, if at all.

Let's dive further into the raw aspect of the dish—clearly, the steaming bowl of rice noodles that is associated with pad thai this recipe is not. I've been besottedly watching Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix (if you aren't familiar with the docuseries or James Beard Award-winning cookbook, chef Samin Nosrat asserts that the secret to great cooking lies not in measurements and precision, but rather a mastery of these four titular elements.) Shifting from a granular, ingredient-minded approach to a four-pronged fundamental one has reshaped the way I think about my dishes entirely. If we were to apply Nosrat's philosophy here, soy sauce provides the salt, almond butter and sesame oil the fat, lime juice the acid, but heat is missing—intentionally.  Surprisingly, the vegetables' sweet flavors are best showcased without warmth, their snappy texture tempered only by the sleek dressing. In other words, salt, fat, and acid are so boldly represented that the dressing needs the juxtaposition of taut, chomping ingredients to provide the requisite "tension", or contrasting flavors and textures, that make for a great dish. Though I promise eating it is a totally stress-free experience :)

Rainbow Raw Pad Thai (from Oh She Glows)
Makes 2 large portions


For the salad
1 medium zucchini, julienned or spiralized
2 large carrots, julienned
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
3/4 cup frozen edamame, thawed
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced (optional, added by me)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (optional, added by me)
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds

For the dressing
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup raw almond butter (or peanut butter)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari
2 Tbsp water
2.5 tsp pure maple syrup (or other sweetener)
1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
hot red chili flakes (optional, if you like heat)

1. Prep vegetables. Add the zucchini, carrots, pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and cabbage into one or two large bowls. Toss with hands to combine.
2. Prepare the dressing by processing all dressing ingredients in a mini processor (or simply whisk by hand). The dressing may seem a bit thin at first, but it thickens as it sits.
3. Top bowls with edamame, scallion, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds. Pour on dressing and enjoy!