Easy Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with Tofu & Veggies

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Get ready for a flavor explosion with these Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies!  The sauce is nutty, tangy, salty, slightly sweet, and spicy with peanut butter, teriyaki, Thai red curry paste, sesame oil, and garlic!  The tofu is seared for a perfect outside and creamy inside.  The zucchini, peppers, and peanuts on top add crunch and texture.  The noodles, well they let you slurp everything up perfectly!  It’s irresistible!  

This is perfect for a prep-ahead and last-minute-weeknight-cook dinner.  The cooking only takes about 15 minutes, so most of the work is the prep for the tofu and the veggies. 

MEATLESS MONDAYS!

I have said this before on the blog, but I love building themes into weekly meal planning.  It makes dinners so much easier when you have a guide for what to cook.  And one of my favorite themes is Meatless Mondays!  The kids like it especially because they don’t have to eat meat.  I like it because we all get more veggies and healthy plant-based proteins.  

Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles are a great addition to my Meatless Monday repertoire.  Here are some other meatless favorites to try!

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For this Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles Recipe, you will need a large skillet/frying pan for making the veggies and curry sauce. I use my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning. 

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR THAI PEANUT SAUCE NOODLES & TOFU

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

Since cooking only takes about 15 minutes, if you can do these steps a day ahead or even the morning of, you can have a super fast dinner!

Start with the tofu prep.  Cut tofu into 1 inch square pieces and pour teriyaki sauce over to coat. Marinate in fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Firm tofu cut into cubes and marinating in teriyaki sauce for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.

Slice red pepper into thin strips.  Slice Zucchini into triangles about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Finely slice 1 tablespoon scallion greens for garnish, then rough chop remaining the scallions into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel and mince the garlic.

Make the sauce by measuring out 4 teaspoons of peanut butter and soften by either microwaving for 10 seconds or putting it in a glass container and submerging the bottom into hot water until softened. Once the peanut butter is softened enough to mix, add the Thai Red Curry Paste, teriyaki sauce, water, sesame oil, and minced garlic. Whisk to completely combine.

Peanut butter, thai curry paste, garlic, and honey in a bowl for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.

Thai peanut sauce mixed in a bowl for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.

How many days ahead can I prep?

You can cut the tofu up to 4 days ahead and lay it on a paper towel lined dish.  I would not marinate the tofu in the teriyaki more than 24 hours as it may start to break down and not sear nicely.  You can prep the rest of the ingredients up to 4 days ahead.

What if I don’t have thai curry paste?

You can skip it all together and this dish will still taste great, but it really brings the thai and pepper component to the recipe.  You could also replace it with a teaspoon of Harissa paste or red pepper paste.

COOK YOUR THAI PEANUT SAUCE NOODLES & TOFU 

The rice noodles cook very quickly, so I like to start boiling the water, but then wait to put the noodles in until just before I want to add them to the pan.  They only take a few minutes to soften and if they cook too long, then can get very mushy.

Preheat a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Drain the tofu pieces and pat dry, then add to the hot pan. Seared on all sides for 1-2 minutes each side. Remove the tofu to a plate and set aside.

Firm teriyaki-marinated tofu cut into cubes searing in a hot pan for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.

Add another teaspoon of Olive oil to the pan, then add the zucchini, scallion, and red pepper to the pan. Let sear for 4 minutes, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the sauce and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.

Thai peanut sauce added to zucchini and red pepper in a pan for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.
Add the tofu pieces back with the drained noodles, then stir to combine. Cook for just enough time for everything to get hot.  Serve and garnish with sliced scallions and chopped peanuts.

Cooked Rice noodles being added to a pan with Thai Peanut Sauce with tofu and veggies.

Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies in a pan on stove.

Can I make this ahead and reheat it?

Yes!  This dish will reheat wonderfully, so go for it!  To reheat it, you can either use the microwave or the stove.  For the stove, try to find a large pan with enough surface area for everything to warm up on the pan rather than steam.  You can add 1/4 cup of water to loosen it up as it warms.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Easy Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with Tofu and Veggies

Get ready for a flavor explosion with Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies!  The sauce is nutty, tangy, salty, slightly sweet, and spicy with peanut butter, teriyaki, Thai red curry paste, sesame oil, and garlic!  The tofu is seared for a perfect outside and creamy inside.  The zucchini, peppers, and peanuts on top add crunch and texture.  The noodles, well they let you slurp everything up perfectly!  It's irresistible and easy to make for a family dinner!  

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Keyword gluten free, meatless, noodles, tofu, vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Tofu

  • 14 oz Extra Firm Tofu or Super Firm
  • 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce

Peanut Sauce

  • 4 tsp Peanut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 2/3 cup Teriyaki Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Garlic minced (1 clove)

Other

  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Zucchini medium
  • 4 Scallions
  • 3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 oz Rice Noodles thin
  • 2 tablespoons Chopped Peanuts

Instructions

Prep Ahead Steps

  1. Cut tofu into 1 inch square pieces and pour teriyaki sauce over to coat. Marinate in fridge for 15-30 minutes.

    Firm tofu cut into cubes and marinating in teriyaki sauce for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.
  2. Slice red pepper into thin strips. Slice Zucchini into triangles about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. 

  3. Finely slice 1 tablespoon scallion greens for garnish, then rough chop remaining the scallions into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel and mince the garlic.

  4. Make the sauce by measuring out 4 teaspoons of peanut butter and soften by either microwaving for 10 seconds or putting it in a glass container and submerging the bottom into hot water until softened. Once the peanut butter is softened enough to mix, add the Thai Red Curry Paste, teriyaki sauce, water, sesame oil, and minced garlic. Whisk with a fork to completely combine.

    Thai peanut sauce mixed in a bowl for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.

Cooking Steps

  1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat on water and add the rice noodles to the hot water. Stir to submerge and remove once soft, about 3-5 minutes. Drain and then rinse with warm water (rice noodles are very starchy and you need to rinse off the excess starch).

  2. Preheat a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Drain the tofu pieces and pat dry, then add to the hot pan. Seared on all sides for 1-2 minutes each side. Remove the tofu to a plate and set aside

    Firm teriyaki-marinated tofu cut into cubes searing in a hot pan for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.
  3. Add another teaspoon of Olive oil to the pan, then add the zucchini, red pepper, and scallion to the pan. Let sear for 4 minutes, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the Thai Peanut Sauce you made earlier and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.

    Thai peanut sauce added to zucchini and red pepper in a pan for Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies.
  4. Add the tofu pieces back with the drained noodles, then stir to combine. Cook for just enough time for everything to get hot.  Serve and garnish with sliced scallions and chopped peanuts.

    Cooked Rice noodles being added to a pan with Thai Peanut Sauce with tofu and veggies.

Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef

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Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef on a plate with fork cutting into one and pan in background.  They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Flavorful, succulent, moist, salty, garlic-y, and healthy.  Is there anything better in a meatball? Get ready to have your world rocked!  These are my Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef.  From this point on, you will never want to eat a meatball without zucchini again!  No, really.  

These incredible meatballs are loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  Because the garlic and onion are both minced, they really infuse every morsel of meat with big flavor.  The zucchini brings so much more to this flavor party!  It brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

These meatballs are super easy to make ahead and freeze for busy weeknights.  Want more freezer tips for making busy family dinners easier?  Click here to get my printable cheat sheet with 10 Freezer Hacks to make easy dinners!

What Makes These Healthy Meatballs?

First, I want to acknowledge that “healthy” means something different to everyone.  Always consult your doctor for any dietary changes and regarding your own health.  That said, healthy for me and for my family means a balanced diet with real food, high in vitamins and nutrients.  I also try to keep calories in check with lean meats.  

First, these Healthy Meatballs use lean ground beef without antibiotics.  I used 90% lean (only 10% fat) ground beef.  You will pay more per pound for really lean beef, but it’s worth it in my opinion.  

Second, adding zucchini into these meatballs acts as a healthy filler – more veg, less beef needed per meatball.  Zucchini has great health benefits!  It’s low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A.  Zucchini is also rich in antioxidants that are linked to benefits for your eyes, skin, and heart.  

Overall, you get about 24 meatballs with 6 meatballs at 282 calories, 4 meatballs only has 188 calories.

Meatballs for Days!

These Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini are so versatile!  You can add them to a variety of dishes with potentially just a few other ingredients to change the flavor profile.  Here are some of my favorite meatball recipes where you could swap in these Healthy Meatballs!

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For this recipe, you need a food processor for the onions, garlic, and zucchini. I used my go-to mini food processor.

If you are making the meatballs in the oven to add to another recipe, you need a large skillet/frying pan for searing the meatballs on all sides. I use my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning.  Then you need a large sheet pan (I use a 17×11) to finish baking the meatballs in the oven.

If you are going to make these meatballs and finish them in a sauce (tomato or cream or other sauce) you will want a dutch oven or skillet that is large enough to hold the meatballs and the sauce.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR HEALTHY MEATBALLS

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

To make the meatball prep as easy and painless as possible, you can chop finely all of the ingredients right in a food processor! 

Peel the onion, cut off the stems, cut it into quarters and put into the food processor. Pulse and then blend until chopped up into small rice-size pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Minced onion in food processor for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut into thick slices. Add all pieces to the food processor and blend until complete chopped up into small rice to pea-size pieces. Transfer the zucchini to a clean dish towel or thick paper towel and then squeeze out the excess liquid. Then add the zucchini to the bowl with the onion.

Minced zucchini in food processor for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Hand squeezing liquid out of towel with zucchini for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

To the onion and the zucchini, add the minced garlic and egg. Mix everything together and then add in the ground beef, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix the beef together with everything making sure that it is evenly mixed through.

Ingredients in bowl for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Meatball ingredients mixed in bowl for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Divide the mixture in half in the bowl, so that you can make sure to get 12 meatballs from each half, for a total of 24. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon or small ice cream scoop of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. Do this for the rest of the meat mixture. Either cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge or move on to cooking.

Raw meatballs on pan for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Can I make these gluten free?

To make these meatballs gluten free, you can either replace the breadcrumbs with a gluten free prepared breadcrumbs or make your own.  I love to buy gluten free bread and toast it in the oven at a low temperature, such as 250 F until it’s fully dried out.  Then pulse in the food processor to turn into breadcrumbs.

You can also replace the breadcrumbs with grated parmesan cheese.

Can I freeze the Meatballs Raw?

Yes, these freeze incredibly well!  Place the raw meatballs on a sheet pan and then directly into the freezer to flash freeze.  Once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a storage bag.  They will keep in the freezer for 4-5 months.  Then bake them in the oven 400 F degrees directly from the freezer for 30 minutes.

COOK YOUR HEALTHY MEATBALLS

Preheat a large skillet or dutch oven (if you are going to add tomato sauce). Add a teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around. Add the meatballs (don’t overcrowd) and cook on each side until browned (a minute or so for each side).

Meatballs cooking in pot for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Once all sides are browned, transfer to a sheet pan to finish in the oven or transfer to a plate if you will be making sauce in the same pan.

Finish Cooking in the Oven

To finish cooking your meatballs in the oven, you will place them on a sheet pan.  This method is great for dinners where you are adding meatballs to a sandwich, a salad, or just eating them with a dipping sauce.  To a 400 F degree oven, finish cooking the meatballs for 10 minutes or until cooked through to the center.

Finish Cooking in a Sauce

If you are going to make a sauce, using the meatball pan and finishing the meatballs in the sauce is the way to get the most flavor!  After removing the meatballs to the plate, use the same pan to add your onions, garlic, or any other ingredients to the pan and then the liquids.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the wonderful brown meatball bits.  Once your sauce is assembled and ready to simmer, add the meatballs back and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  It may take about 10 minutes for them to cook through, but you can remove one to test it.

What to eat on the Side!

Well, if your making a sauce, then pasta, rice, quinoa, or bread for dipping are all good options.  Here is my Easy Luscious Creamy Tomato Sauce Recipe.  Or just get your favorite jarred Marinara sauce from the store!  When the meatballs simmer in the sauce it deepens the flavor to make it taste more homemade.

Other options for sides….Try my Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash for a healthy side!  Or my Mushroom Quinoa Risotto!  Or how about this Green Rice!

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef on a plate with fork cutting into one and pan in background. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.
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Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini and Lean Beef

Flavorful, succulent, moist, salty, garlic-y, and healthy.  Is there anything better in a meatball? These Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef are loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  Because the garlic and onion are both minced, they really infuse every morsel of meat with big flavor.  The zucchini brings so much more to this flavor party!  It brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword ground beef, healthy dinner, Meatballs, zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 282 kcal
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground beef 90% lean
  • 1 Zucchini medium
  • 1 Onion small
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg, large
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Optional: Easy Luscious Creamy Tomato Sauce Recipe (see recipe for ingredients & details)

Instructions

Prep Ahead Steps

  1. Peel the onion, cut off the stems, cut it into quarters and put into the food processor. Pulse and then blend until chopped up into small rice-size pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut into thick slices. Add all pieces to the food processor and blend until complete chopped up into small rice to pea-size pieces. Transfer the zucchini to a clean dish towel or thick paper towel and then squeeze out the excess liquid. Then add the zucchini to the bowl with the onion.

  3. To the onion and the zucchini, add the minced garlic and egg. Mix everything together and then add in the ground beef, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix the beef together with everything making sure that it is evenly mixed through.

  4. Divide the mixture in half in the bowl, so that you can make sure to get 12 meatballs from each half, for a total of 24. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon or small ice cream scoop of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. Do this for the rest of the meat mixture. Either cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge or move on to cooking.

Cooking Steps

  1. Preheat a large skillet or dutch oven (if you are going to add tomato sauce). Add a teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around. Add the meatballs (don't overcrowd) and cook on each side until browned (a minute or so for each side). Once all sides are browned, transfer to a sheet pan to finish in the oven or transfer to a plate if you will be making sauce in the same pan.

  2. OVEN: If you're finishing in the oven, preheat the oven 400 F degrees. Place the meatballs on a sheet pan.  Bake in the oven on center rack for 10 minutes or until cooked through to the center.

  3. IN SAUCE: Cook your sauce in the same pan or pot used to cook the meatballs. Once your sauce is assembled and ready to simmer, add the meatballs back and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  It may take about 10 minutes for them to cook through, but you can remove one to test it.

Recipe Notes

Serving Size = 6 meatballs (assumes 24 meatballs in this recipe)