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Last Minute Linguine Laksa

I usually plan my dinner menus a few days in advance, incorporating a mix of family favorites, special requests, and “testers” for my latest cookbook. But once in awhile, usually right around dinnertime, I get a craving for something that’s not on the menu. When it calls for ingredients that aren’t in the house, that’s when I get creative and search the refrigerator and pantry for “do-fer” ingredients.

That’s how this “last minute laksa” came into being. I had no rice noodles in the house, but I had a half pound of leftover linguine. I had no lemongrass, but figured the lime would add enough citrus balance to the flavor. No bean sprouts in the fridge, but that didn’t stop me either.

Using what was on hand, a steaming pot of fragrant spicy deliciousness was ready to serve within 30 minutes. Not exactly like you’d find it on the streets of Singapore, but so good and satisfying enough to quell those last minute laksa cravings.

Last Minute Linguine Laksa

If you have some bean sprouts and chopped cucumber on hand, they’re good to add to the bowls when you add the cilantro. This recipe makes enough for 2 to 3 large bowls or 4 to 6 smaller bowls of the spicy soup. (If you don’t like too much heat, cut back on the cayenne and chile paste.

2 tablespoons canola oil
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
5 scallions, minced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons Asian chile paste
3 cups vegetable stock
1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
8 ounces cooked linguine
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Lime wedges

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook for 4 minutes to soften. Add the scallions, ginger, curry powder, coriander, and cayenne. Stir in the chile paste and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, cooked linguine, and reserved tofu, and simmer until hot. Taste and adjust the seasonings. The amount of salt you need depends on the saltiness of your broth.

To serve, ladle the soup into the bowls and garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.