Making this grain-free Summer Squash Pad Thai with Chicken was a bit of a “Eureka!” moment for me. If you want the epitome of healthy takeout that tastes pretty darn close to the “real deal,” this is it. And after tasting this spicy, creamy, veggie-packed dish, it’s a recipe I’ll be adding to my Friday night dinner roster for many nights to come.
After a friend requested that I make a “Paleo Pad Thai” recipe for the blog, I doubted I’d be able to pull it off. But I also love a challenge (and am a little bit on the competitive side), so I wanted to give it a shot.
Still, it’s been years since I’ve had traditional pad thai, and I didn’t think I’d be able to replicate the flavors, especially by using spiralized zucchini and yellow squash in place of the noodles. But the key here is that SAUCE. My “Eureka” moment. And once you have that sauce nailed down and have prepped a few simple ingredients, it’s incredibly easy to put together.
Now let’s be real here. Takeout food can be a little suspect at times, especially if you’re gluten free or eating a clean, processed food-free diet. You never really know what’s in that styrofoam container. So the good thing about making “copycat” takeout dishes at home is that you know exactly what’s going into it. At the end of the day, I’m not stirring ingredients into my food with a blindfold on. And the best part? This Summer Squash Pad Thai with Chicken tastes just as good, and doesn’t leave you feeling funky afterwards (in my experience, a common aftereffect from Chinese or Thai takeout).
For this Summer Squash Pad Thai With Chicken, I highly recommend prepping the squash “noodles” and/or chicken ahead of time. Both of these ingredients are prepared very simply (see recipe below), and by making them ahead of time, you’ll be able to throw this whole dish together in about 20 minutes.
Now, the sauce. As I mentioned before, the sauce is KEY to making this grain-free pad thai taste so close to the real deal. It just involves a few simple ingredients and some regular stirring (nothing too crazy here). Once you cook up the shallot and garlic over medium heat, you’re going to gradually add fish sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, and coconut sugar. That’s it. And of course, you’ll want to use quality ingredients here. For the fish sauce, I use Thai Kitchen Fish Sauce, which is not strictly paleo-friendly (it has a small amount of sugar in it), but the ingredients are pretty squeaky clean: anchovy, sea salt, water, and sugar.
The toppings are also a key part of this dish. Cilantro is necessary for this one (unless you’re someone who doesn’t like cilantro. For the record, I don’t understand you people), and I like to add some chopped up peanuts and additional bean sprouts on top for that added crunch factor. Plus a little crushed red pepper for spice. And then you’re good to go. Healthy takeout without the styrofoam container or suspect ingredients. Sign me up.
Summer Squash Pad Thai With Chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Coconut oil
- Sea salt and pepper to season chicken
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 medium yellow squash
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 eggs whisked together
For the sauce
- 1 shallot diced
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce I use Thai Kitchen, it has a little sugar, but absolutely NO additives. Super clean.
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 limes
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar Big Tree Farms is my go-to brand
For the topping
- Fresh cilantro
- Chopped peanuts
- Red chili pepper
- Additional bean sprouts
Dry the "noodles" thoroughly with paper towels or a clean dish towel
Cut the chicken into thin strips and season with salt and pepper
Heat a large nonstick pan with coconut oil and cook chicken on Medium-High heat for 2 minutes on each side
Cover and cook on Low for 10 minutes (until chicken is no longer pink)
Once the chicken is done, transfer the chicken to a bowl (or glass dish if you are prepping the chicken ahead of time) and drain the juice from the pan
Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan, and sauté shallot and garlic over Medium-Low heat for a few minutes
Gradually add the rest of the sauce ingredients (fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, juice from 2 limes, and coconut sugar) and simmer together for a 4-5 minutes
Reduce heat to Low
Add squash "noodles" to the sauce mixture and combine thoroughly; cover and cook for 4-5 minutes to incorporate the flavor into the squash
Uncover and stir in cooked chicken; clear a space to add the whisked eggs to the pan
Cook the eggs for a few seconds, then mix with the chicken and squash noodles
Mix in bean sprouts
Stir all ingredients together for a couple minutes
To serve, use tongs to dish out the squash "noodles" and chicken into bowls
Top with fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, additional bean sprouts, and red chili pepper flakes (if you like it a little spicier)