Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Tuna Pasta Salad

I’ll be honest, I completely forgot that today was the official $5 Challenge day!  Will and I had a picnic lunch with my parents this afternoon, 2 hours from home, so our meal options were severely limited to anything that could withstand the drive there and back.

I improved upon a pasta salad that I brought to a potluck a few weeks ago.  It went over well the first time, but I thought it was missing a little something.  This time around I nailed it!  I added tuna for an extra protein boost, but it can definitely be left out to turn this back to a vegetarian meal.  I used Anaheim peppers, because that is the one thing that has grown in abundance in my garden, but Will thought it was a little too spicy as a result.  I recommend sticking with red bell peppers if you’re feeding kids… or less adventurous adults.  However, even my 1-1/2 year-old buddy loved the noodles, which had picked up a little bit of the heat from the peppers.

Since we were biking after lunch, and because it’s too darn chilly to be filled by a simple pasta salad lunch, I wanted something to round out the meal.  I served some tasty baking soda biscuit-type muffins with local honey– which, incidentally, is great for keeping the ragweed blues at bay!  For the salad and the muffins, this meal probably cost around $6.  Will and I each had lunch size servings of the pasta (okay, I had two), plus the folks had a share as well.  There are easily four servings left.  I’m a little too sleepy to do the math, but I think the cost per serving works out to somewhere around dirt cheap!

$5 Challenge: mission accomplished!

Prep and cook time: 15 minutes     Estimated cost: $5.50

Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 1 box tri-colored rotini, cooked and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper (or something spicier if you’re brave!), diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Dash each of salt, pepper, and sugar, or more to taste

Toss the salad ingredients together.   To make the dressing, combine ingredients  in a small container with a lid and shake until well-mixed.  Add dressing to the salad and stir gently to combine.  This salad is best when chilled for an hour.

Serves 4 for a meal, 8 as a side




September 17, 2011 Posted by | Recipes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Curried Shrimp Kabobs

Every year for Will’s birthday, we have a huge celebration with the whole family. We usually have a potluck meal where we provide the entree and everyone else brings a side. In the past we’ve done bbq chicken or grilled burgers. Well, that wasn’t happening this year. So the question was what to prepare that would satisfy the masses but still fit into Will’s brand of vegetarianism? The answer: shrimp kabobs. Of course, I couldn’t just skewer the typical shrimp, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions. That just wouldn’t be me! So I decided on a curry marinade and an unusual vegetable for a kabob– cauliflower!

Cauliflower goes great with curry. And it’s such a unique choice for a kabob. Just be sure not to overcook it. Steam it just enough to stick a skewer in it. Anything more and it will crumble when you skewer it!

I found a nice chunky curry marinade from Bobbie Flay. The flavor of the curry was outstanding, and it stuck well to the kabob pieces even through grilling. Bonus: the leftovers took two minutes to pan fry and were fantastic served over rice!

Kabobs are not a meal for a rushed dinner. They take a considerable amount of time to prepare, so I’m not even going to venture an estimate on prep time here. They can be prepped ahead of time, as long as they’re kept covered and chilled. This is an unusual enough kabob to be a big hit for dinner parties. Or they’re a fun way to get the kids involved in putting together a family-night meal.

Cook time: 10 minutes      Approximate cost: $14 for 20-30 skewers

Curried Shrimp Kabobs


  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 2 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 3 onions, sliced into thick wedge
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 30 skewers

Curry Marinade

  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Steam the cauliflower in until it just starts to become tender. Drain and rinse with cold water immediately to stop the cooking.

Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for the marinade until well-blended.

Place vegetables and shrimp in a large bowl. Pour marinade over the mixture and gently stir to coat. Cover and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

To assemble kabobs, soak wooden skewers in cold water for 20 minutes to prevent splintering or scorching. Alternate vegetables and shrimp on the skewer (for example: onion, shrimp, zucchini, shrimp, cauliflower, shrimp, onion). Grill for 4-5 minutes per side.

Serves 6 to 8

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Recipes | , , , | Leave a comment