Vegan “Tuna” Salad Sandwich
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This is one of my favorite, pantry-made salads: vegan “tuna” salad. The texture of partially crushed chickpeas mixed with the dressing, a mix of tahini, mustard, and Greek yogurt (or vegan mayonnaise), combine to form an astonishing resemblance to tuna salad. A few briny bites — capers and pickles — along with a few classic tuna-salad players — diced celery and onion — make it irresistible!
Last fall my friend Diane emailed me this recipe for vegan “no-tuna” salad from the Minimalist Baker’s cookbook, Everyday Cooking. “Everyone who tries it,” she said, “asks for the recipe.”
I only just got around to making it a few weeks ago, and while I wish this salad had entered my life sooner, I’m especially grateful for having it now, with the holidays behind us, as I find myself craving all things fresh and light.
The first time I made it, I was astounded by the resemblance to tuna salad, something about the texture of the partially crushed chickpeas in combination with the dressing, a creamy mix of tahini, mustard, and vegan mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt, not vegan obviously, but healthy and delicious nonetheless). The addition of a few briny bites — capers and pickles — along with a few classic tuna-salad players — diced celery and onion — add to the almost-tuna effect.
You likely won’t fool any tuna-salad lovers here, but no one you serve this to will be disappointed. I’ve been sandwiching it between un-toasted three-seed bread, and my husband and I have been gobbling it up. Diane serves it in Boston lettuce cups as a wrap with shredded carrots, which is a great option for anyone looking to lighten it up further.
No-Tuna “Tuna” Salad Notes
- Dressing. As noted above, to keep this vegan, use vegan mayonnaise. Dana Shultz, author of Everyday Cooking, also says you can use 2-3 tablespoons of additional tahini in place of the mayonnaise. If you are not vegan, Greek yogurt or mayonnaise or a combination of the two work well.
- Make it ahead. This keeps well in the fridge, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time. With that in mind, you may also consider doubling the recipe — a single batch never lasts long in our house.
- Canned chickpeas. Friends, you know I can be such a stinker (snob) about cooking beans from scratch, but I’m trying to get over it — New Year, New Beans! — and guess what? Not once have I used from-scratch chickpeas here. It doesn’t matter. Because you mash the chickpeas up and mix them with so many big-flavor ingredients, the chickpea flavor is mostly overpowered.
PS: Encouraged by my soon-to-be sister-in-law, I made these Curried Chickpeas with Cauliflower and Coconut Milk with 2 cans of chickpeas, and it was delicious. 2020 is looking bright!
Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.
You can make this in one bowl, but in essence, there are two components: 1. A can of chickpeas, which you drain, rinse, and mostly mash up, and …
… 2. a flavorful dressing made with vegan mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt), tahini, mustard, capers, pickles, red onion, and celery. I love adding scallions and a squeeze of lemon, too.
This keeps really well in the fridge; you may want to consider doubling the recipe. These deli quart containers (BPA-free!) are so handy for storing these types of salads.
I’ve been serving the salad on the three-seed bread from Bread Toast Crumbs. (Incidentally, I baked the loaves in two old 1-qt Corningware bowls … funny shape, but I kind of like.)
- If you want to make this vegan, obviously use vegan mayo; if you don’t keep a vegan diet, regular mayo or Greek yogurt also are great. My preference is Greek yogurt.
- As noted in the post, my friend Diane, who passed along the recipe to me, serves the salad wrap-style in Boston lettuce leaves along with shredded carrots. The wraps are so good! I’ll try to upload a picture next time I make them.
- If you are sensitive to onion, you may want to use less than 1/4 cup. A few commenters found the onion to be a bit too strong. It’s possible the addition of scallions, not in the original recipe, is adding to the extra onion-y flavor, so you could alternatively use fewer scallions.
For the salad:
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise or Greek yogurt, see notes above
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or spicy brown mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
- ¼ cup diced red onion or less, see notes above
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup diced celery
- ¼ cup diced pickle, I use sweet bread and butter pickles
- 1 to 2 teaspoon capers, drained and loosely chopped (I like 2 tsp)
- Healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon roasted unsalted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, optional
- fresh lemon, optional, to taste
- 8 slices good bread
- Boston lettuce
- Place the chickpeas in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork, leaving only a few beans whole.
- Add tahini, mayo or Greek yogurt, mustard, maple syrup, red onion, scallions (if using), celery, pickle, capers, salt, pepper, and sunflower seeds (if using) to mixing bowl. Mix to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I always add more sea salt to taste and a good squeeze of fresh lemon, too. If the mixture is too dry, I’ll add another tablespoon of Greek yogurt.
- I like serving this salad on soft, fresh bread, but toast bread if you wish, and prepare any other desired sandwich toppings (such as lettuce, tomato, and onion). I’ve been using Boston lettuce alone, and I love it.
- Scoop a healthy amount of the chickpea mixture (about ½ cup) onto one slice of bread, add desired toppings and top with second slice of bread. Repeat for additional sandwiches.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Mix
- Cuisine: American/Vegan
Keywords: no-tuna, tuna, salad, sandwich, vegan, vegetarian