Food & Drink

Laura Wright’s Raw “Pad Thai” Salad

by Annie Werbler


These days, it seems like every third person is eliminating some evil inflammatory agent from their diet to address various physical concerns. Laura Wright’s beautiful food blog The First Mess is a jackpot for cooks who utilize wholesome, natural foods in their kitchens and aim to feed seasonally whenever possible. Whether you’re vegan, doing without gluten or sugar, eating raw, paleo, or following the autoimmune protocol, Wright’s zucchini “Pad Thai” (technically a salad) takes advantage of the bountiful fresh produce currently available in local markets, and can be easily altered to work within the guidelines of any prescribed program. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing hearty recipes from a wellness perspective — that don’t skimp on providing satisfaction in addition to nutrition. Along with the health nuts, this invigorating dish will satiate even the most epicurean eaters on a hot summer day such as this. —Annie

Why Laura loves this recipeI enjoy making noodles out of vegetables with my spiralizer/julienne peeler in the summer. They satisfy that starchy craving, but they also happen to keep me cool and energized. I find this tangle of a salad to be highly adaptable to whatever’s on hand in terms of vegetables and mix-ins. Some sliced radishes are great in it, or maybe some blanched green beans in the mix, and little seared cubes of tofu are excellent if you’re looking for a bit of protein. The dressing is a breezy mix of pantry items for the most part. I might be a little liberal with the “Pad Thai” designation here, but this salad hits all of those satisfying hot, sweet, and sour notes. With the fragrant herbs and salty little bites of roasted peanut (you could use cashews or sunflower seeds if you like), it makes for a crowd-pleasing, but still quite relaxed, potluck contribution.

*This recipe is part of our healthy summer series, focusing on recipes that are good looking and good for you!


Photography by Laura Wright, except where noted

Raw and Vegan “Pad Thai” Salad
Serves 2-4

Dressing ingredients
– 1 tbsp minced shallot (from about ½ of a standard shallot)
– 2 tsp minced chili
– 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
– 1 tbsp agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
– 1 tsp gluten-free tamari
– 2 tbsp neutral-flavor oil (such as sunflower or grapeseed)

Salad ingredients
– 2 large zucchini, ends trimmed
– sea salt
– 1 carrot, peeled
– 1 red bell pepper, seeded
– 2 handfuls of bean sprouts
– ½ cup shelled fresh peas
– handful of fresh cilantro, rough chopped
– 2 sprigs of Thai basil, leaves chopped
– 2 scallions, sliced
cup roasted and salted peanuts, chopped


For dressing:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the minced shallot, minced chili, lime juice, agave nectar, tamari, and oil. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning, acidity, and sweetness levels to your liking. Set aside.

In the Kitchen With: Laura Wright's Raw “Pad Thai” Salad, on Design*Sponge

For salad:

1. With a spiralizer or julienne peeler, make “noodles” out of the two zucchini. Throw the noodles into a large bowl and sprinkle them with some salt. Toss the “noodles” to coat and season.

2. Cut the carrot into matchsticks and toss them into the bowl with the zucchini. Cut the bell pepper into thin strips and throw that into the bowl as well. Then, add the bean sprouts, shelled peas, cilantro, Thai basil, and scallions. Toss lightly to combine.

3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and herbs, and toss everything to combine. Garnish the top of the dish with the chopped peanuts and serve immediately.


About Laura: Laura Wright is the creator of The First Mess, a food blog that celebrates plant-based fare and fine living through all of life’s seasons. She grew up in the fertile lands of southern Ontario, with a peach orchard and a vineyard right outside her door. The blog is the meeting point of her experience working in restaurants, attending a nutritional culinary program, growing up with the local food movement, and a constant pursuit of the good life. The First Mess Cookbook is due out in the Spring of 2017. Until then, you can follow her healthy eating adventures on her site, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


Photo by Mark Orsini

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  • oh wow that looks so yummy – I love Pad Thai so I’ll have to try this out and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I need a spiraliser!!

  • do not use agave nectar. Yes, it’s natural but the way that it is processed makes it higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup, which is very bad. Use liquid stevia instead, or better yet wean yourself from sugars entirely.

  • This looks perfect for summer! I also don’t like to be weighed down by heavy carbs when it’s hot out. Zucchini noodles are so light and refreshing, I love the use of them in this vegan pad thai :)

  • I have used my apple peeler as a spiralizer. It leaves a core, and the noodles are not 100% consistent but it has saved my from having yet another appliance in my kitchen.

  • I made variations of this for lunch a few times this week (gotta use the gifted zucchinis from friends!)

    Really really good! Thanks for the rec!

  • Love this recipe. As always, Laura’s photography is stunning (and great to sketch from, too!). This salad is on my to-do list as the temps continue rise through late July, but I’m not quite ready to give up a pad thai craving.

  • Laura is the BEST! She always posts the most delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. This has been the summer of zucchini noodles and I’m a big big fan– glad to know you guys are too!

  • This recipe sounds so delicious. Am going to definitely try it asap. can’t wait…

  • Dear Laura,

    Can you tell us which spiralizer you have? I always end up with a fairly sizable bulb from zucchini, that you can’t twist and spiralize without spiralizing your fingers, or scraping the fork, with which you are holding the smaller piece of zucchini. I figured that someone must have made an electric one, that you just push the vegetables down and it spiralizes. I hopa, hopa, hope. Thank you for your work and sharing this. Stephanie