My Mom’s tuna salad was what I consider to be a classic recipe: drained canned tuna, chopped onion and celery, lots of sweet relish, mayonnaise, and black pepper. It was the best. Somehow it was better than any tuna salad I tried anywhere else; my friend’s homes, delis, and diners. No one else seemed to get it right.
I loved eating Mom’s tuna salad sandwiches. Except at school. I remember being mortified the first time I brought one to the lunchroom thinking I was being exotic and would be the envy of my classmates. Instead, when I unwrapped the glorious meal from my lunchbox, my classmates held their noses and said “it smells like dead fish in here” and scooted their chairs far away from me. I never brought tuna sandwiches to school ever again. Or anywhere for that matter.
Come to think of it, tuna IS dead fish. I am not judging, just telling it like it is. I don’t eat tuna anymore, but us vegans will mimic ANY animal food any chance we get! “Tuna” salad can now be made from: canned jackfruit, tempeh, walnuts and sunflower seeds, hearts of palm, and chickpeas. Chickpea Not-Tuna salad is my favorite. It’s just like mom’s — only no tuna odor!
For the Happy Tuna
3 cups (approx) chickpeas, drained (save liquid to use in mayo)
2 celery sticks
1/4 of a medium yellow, white or sweet onion, dices into small bits
2 T sweet relish
1 1/2 tsp kelp or nori flakes (Maine Coast Sea Vegetables/Seaweed) for fishy flavor
Salt and lots of fresh ground pepper to taste
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 cup or more to taste vegan mayo (homemade preferred, see oil-free Plant Mayo recipe below)
2 T dill relish
onion and garlic powder/granules to taste
For the oil-free Plant Mayo
1/2 cup raw cashews (soak in boiling water for 15 minutes first if you do not have a high speed blender, and drain)
1/2 cup aquafaba (chickpea water)
1 block firm silken tofu (like Mori-nu)
2 T rice vinegar
1 T liquid sweetener (agave or maple syrup)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp kala namak (eggy black salt)
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp sea salt
Start by making the Plant Mayo:
Blend the cashews and aquafaba. Add everything else and blend until smooth and creamy.
*if you have a Nutribullet, Magic Bullet or Vitamix (any high speed blender) you do not need to soak the cashews.
Feel free to add more of the seasonings to suit your own taste.
To make the Happy Tuna:
In a large bowl, mash chickpeas with a potato masher or fork until chunky. Mix in remaining ingredients and liberally add salt and pepper (it will still be less sodium than a can of tuna!). Adjust seasonings to taste.
Variation: for an added protein and healthy fat boost, mix in a tablespoon or two chopped/ground walnuts.