I consider myself a “conscious omnivore” – we try to eat organic and local whenever possible, and the meat that we consume is of the highest quality we can afford, from small farms in the area. Truth be told, my husband and I have considered cutting meat out of our diets on various occasions, but the reality is that we both really enjoy meat, seafood, and dairy (neither of us can quit cheese, and we don’t really want to). I’m of the firm belief that if you eat responsibly – avoiding factory farmed items and making things from scratch versus buying it pre-made, for example – that you should be able to eat what you want.
Some of this “consciousness” has lead to giving up certain things, like tuna. There are several different species of tuna: yellowtail, bigeye, and bluefin are what’s likely to end up on a sushi menu, and skipjack and albacore are what ends up in cans. Bluefin tuna is being fished to near extinction, and the methods for fishing skipjack and albacore result in the killing of other marine species, including dolphins and sharks, as “bycatch” – the general term for animals that get caught in the nets that aren’t tuna. Combine this with the fact that the oceans are way more polluted than ever (not just due to that little nuclear waste issue in Fukushima), and we’ve got a major problem with tuna (and seafood at large). And I haven’t even gone into the mercury issue…but the reasons for being selective about seafood are plenty.
Bearing all of this in mind, I began to look for ways to re-make a tuna sandwich that don’t involve actual fish. I’ve seen cans of Toona made from pea protein in the same aisle as Starkist and Chicken of the Sea, but then I saw an Instagram story from a vegan friend who made a “tuna” salad out of chickpeas and Vegenaise! Intrigued, I wanted to make my own version and came up with this super easy recipe. Here are a few notes:
- You can use canned chickpeas, but I prefer cooking up a fresh batch from dried garbanzos.
- The options for additions are endless – I sometimes like to add chopped capers and a little bit of dill, and lots of ground black pepper.
- You can use pre-purchased vegan mayo, but again, I like to make mine from scratch – that way you control the seasoning.
- The sea kelp seasoning is key to making this taste like tuna – otherwise, it could easily pass for a vegan egg salad sandwich (also delicious).
Ocean-Friendly Tuna Sandwich
1 can chickpeas, drained (about 250g of beans)
1 T raw sunflower seeds (optional)
2 T vegan mayo (I’ve used store-bought Vegenaise but love this homemade version too)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Sea Kelp granules
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
5 cornichons, finely chopped
2 tsp. capers, chopped (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade, add sunflower seeds (if using) and pulse just until you achieve the consistency of flaked tuna. Don’t process it too long otherwise you’ll end up with hummus. Empty into a bowl, and add the vegan mayo, mustard, kelp granules, celery, onion, cornichons, and capers, and mix well. If the mixture is too dry, add more mayo. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
- Scoop “tuna” salad onto slices of your favorite bread (I used Bread SRSLY gluten-free bread in these photos) and top with lettuce leaves for a classic tuna sandwich.
- Use a destemmed collard green leaf as the base – top with tuna salad, sliced red peppers, julienned carrots, and sprouts for a carb-free wrap!
- Add more mayo and use as a dip with your favorite crackers.
- Top your favorite salad greens with a scoop of tuna salad for extra protein!