My last post was about two months ago. In that post, I made a big deal about how I’ve been super busy, but that I promised to get back into the swing of things. I also made a big stink about giving up meat for Lent. I can’t promise that I’ll be back in the swing of things, but I can tell you that a lot has happened since my last post. For one thing, I got accepted into graduate school for Elementary Education and certification. Hurrah! I’m going to be a teacher. I also successfully gave up meat. I lost 6 lbs. doing it. Then I gained 3 (or more) back when I went on vacation to Boston and New Hampshire and drank lots of different beers. Then I ran a 10 mile race. And now I probably want to run a lot more. That being said, I have a lot more free time now that graduate school applications are out of the way (for good) and I’m no longer training for my run (for now.)

I can go on and on for hours about all of the terrific, and not so terrific meals that I cooked while I was without meat. I can also tell you about the terrible cheeseburger that I had after my race on Sunday. But instead, I’ll leave you with a post about one of my favorite meals that I made while I was without meat. I loved it so much, I’ll make it again and again. It’s called Pad Thai. And it’s awesome.

Vegetarian Pad Thai
Adapted from Mark Bittman 

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles, 1/4inch thick
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces pressed tofu, or extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and sliced
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 teaspoons tamarind paste or ketchup
2 teaspoons sugar
1 /4 cup chopped peanuts
1 /4cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 small fresh jalapeno peppers
1 lime, cut into wedges

Put the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak until softened, at least 15 minutes; if you want to hold them a little longer, drain them, fill the bowl with cold water, and return the noodles to the bowl.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the eggs and scramble quickly for the first minute or so with a fork almost flat against the bottom of the pan; you’re aiming for a thin egg crêpe of sorts, one with the smallest curd you can achieve. Cook just until set and transfer the crêpe to a cutting board. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.

Raise the heat to high and add the remaining oil. When hot, add the garlic, tofu, scallions, and half the bean sprouts to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Put the drained noodles, eggs, nam pla, tamarind, and sugar in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are heated through, then add the stir-fried tofu mixture. Toss once or twice and transfer the contents of the pan to a serving platter. Top with the peanuts, cilantro, chiles, and remaining bean sprouts. Serve with the lime wedges.

This dish is particularly special because Stu and I have been trying to recreate it for years. My dad actually makes a killer Pad Thai, with chicken and sometimes shrimp, and he made it for us one of the first times Stu came to my house for dinner. We’ve been trying to make our own ever since, and have been continuously unsuccessful. Mostly because we can’t get the noodles to the right consistency, but also because we wait until the verrrry last minute to prep everything. Something clicked with this recipe though, probably because we didn’t use meat so we weren’t juggling as many steps as normal. This dish was divine! I loved every bite of it, and the leftovers the next day. A co-worker who used to work at a Thai restaurant even commented on how delicious it looked. I was super pleased. This is certainly one dish that made giving up meat a breeze!