In my Pad Thai, I always include:
Rice Noodles (medium size), half the pack for 2 people
Chicken (pre-cooked is fine, and shrimp is lovely as well)
Tofu (I use the savory baked tofu from Trader Joe's), sliced
Carrots, 2-3 medium ones sliced into ribbons with a veggie peeler
Onions, half a medium-sized one sliced thin
Mushrooms, about a cup sliced
Garlic, 1-2 cloves
Fresh ginger, about as much as your garlic. I cheat and use my garlic press for both of these!
Sesame oil - just a dash added to the olive oil in your pan does wonders!
(Bean sprouts, yellow bell peppers (but not green or red), broccoli, and green beans are all nice additions, but I don't make this often enough to really experiment. Let me know if any other vegetables worked for you!)
For the toppings, you want fresh cilantro, lime, chopped unsalted peanuts. Cilantro is the only one that's truly necessary, but the lime and chopped peanuts really add something special to this dish!
Soak your rice noodles in hot water (or whatever the directions on your brand say) while you add the carrots and onions in the garlic, ginger, olive oil, and sesame oil to a large skillet or wok. When they're just beginning to soften, add mushrooms and any other veggies. Cook for long enough to heat them through and distribute the flavor, then push them to the outsides of the pan to create an open space in the middle. Sear your tofu pieces on each side, then push to the edges. Crack eggs into the center and scramble to cook. Add cooked chicken or raw shrimp at this point (if chicken is raw, cook first before carrots and onions), and toss with other ingredients to warm and distribute flavors. Once chicken is hot (or shrimp is cooked), add drained softened rice noodles, toss, then cover in sauce. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes, tossing occasionally to continue to distribute sauce. Add chopped cilantro, peanuts, and lime. Serve hot and feel free to add sriracha at the table!
As I said before, you can make this a delicious, easy dish by just buying a sauce, and there are several great gluten-free options out there. If you want to go all Alton Brown* over this, try this recipe:
1/4 cup Tamarind Paste
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sriracha hot sauce (add more if you like heat!)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (make sure yours is gluten-free! the one pictured here is not!)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp raw sugar
Add all ingredients to a bowl or jar, and adjust the levels until it tastes right; different brands will have different salt/sugar/sour/nutty levels, so you're just trying to achieve that balance of all. If you're making this for anyone going gluten-free, the only ingredient you need to worry about is your soy sauce. My husband and I are not, so do not use our brand!