Sweet and Spicy Tofu and Jalapeno Pad Thai

vegetarian pad thai
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN
Total Time 40 min
Prep 15 min, Cook 25 min
Yield 6 (1 cup each)

This simple, lightened up version of an Asian classic will blow your mind by igniting your senses with a hint of heat from jalapenos. Plus, it's a low-fat, vegetarian option with tofu as the main protein source. It also offers anti-inflammatory properties from whole garlic cloves, as well as healthy fats from crunchy peanuts on top of rice noodles. According to the MIND diet you should eat nuts most days—at least 5 times a week, partly because they are a rich source of vitamin E, a nutrient that protects the brain.

This dish is also a good base for adding a variety of vegetables. With the MIND diet focus on vegetables—with at least a daily serving showing benefits against cognitive decline—this vegetarian pad thai fits in beautifully on a brain-healthy menu. Toss in leafy greens to give it an extra-special boost!


  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 package tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 1 package pad thai rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch chipotle crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro


  1. On the stovetop over medium-high heat, place a wok or deep saucepan and add oil, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, and tofu. Saute until tofu is browning and vegetables are softened.
  2. Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Add cooked noodles to the wok or pan with the tofu and vegetable mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, honey, and crushed pepper. Pour over the tofu and vegetables. Mix together while still over the heat. Remove when thoroughly heated.
  1. Divide noodle dish among six bowls. Top each with a sprinkle of peanuts, carrots, and cilantro, if desired.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Instead of tofu, feel free to add chicken breast or ground turkey breast if you're not vegetarian.

Toss in the mixed leafy greens, snow peas, or broccoli to add a pop of green to the dish.

For a nut-free version, use grape seed oil to saute veggies and top with crunchy radish slices.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Serve this dish immediately, warm, with chopsticks. Save leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days. Add more dressing to leftovers after reheating, if it needs a flavor boost.

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