Not-tuna made with chickpeas is a whole food, plant-based version of ‘tuna and one of our favorite go-to recipes. It’s easy, versatile and so, so yummy. I’ve served it to rave reviews – even to non-vegans. If you are a confirmed plant-based eater or you are exploring new options, not-tuna is a great place to start.
Have you ever experienced “recipe serendipity”? For me, it goes like this: I’m chugging along in my little kitchen, singing a tune, feeling pretty good, merrily adding ingredients. Suddenly it all goes wrong. I’ve added the wrong ingredient. I have a slight bit of panic as my ‘cooking competence’ is challenged. I utter a few words (that shouldn’t be repeated) as I launch headlong into plan B by asking myself a few important questions (yes, sometimes aloud): ‘Will anyone notice? Can I somehow fix my mistake? Do I have enough ingredients to start over? Did anyone hear me?’ Now for the serendipity – that happens when my mistake makes my dish even better. This is what happened with not-tuna.
I’d seen some rave reviews about whole food, plant-based no-tuna/not-tuna out there and the idea was quite appealing. Anything with chickpeas is always worth a try in my book and even better if we’re taking quick and sandwich. At the time, I was taking a plant-based cooking course and no-tuna was one of my assignments. Confidently, I went about the process, chopping up the veggies, smashing the chickpeas and so forth. I mixed up the ‘sauce’ on the side and added a few personal touches. I thought at the time that it was darned good.
And then it happened
Serendipity arrived. Moment of truth. I’d veered wildly off tack. That tahini I was supposed to be adding was actually Tamari. There was no denying it – I had wrecked my assignment. Failure was in the wind. I was out of chickpeas, I had a hungry husband, there was no turning back. At that moment I made what I like to call a ‘kitty’ decision. That’s when my cat falls off the couch or does something else entirely stupid and then looks up and says: ‘I meant to do that, can’t you tell? I’m genius’
My unconscious substitution of Tamari for tahini was a huge success. It freed me to make my own version of not-tuna that in my humble opinion is heads above the rest. I took full advantage of my tahini break to further refine not-tuna, adding nori and tossing in a few sunflower seeds to enhance the nutty flavor of the chickpeas. Success! The hubby loved it and when I revealed my detour from the original recipe, I went full kitty: I meant to do that, can’t you tell? I’m genius.
Chance favors the prepared mind
If you happen to have a serendipitous moment with this recipe or if you think of cool things to add such as cucumber, shredded carrots, black olives, etc., please share with us. Whole food, plant-based cooking can be a wonderful, creative escape. It opens you to new possibilities and yes, serendipity. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and sometimes the result is pure bliss. Chance favors the prepared mind. Peace.
This not-tuna salad is super-easy and super delicious. It’s entirely whole food, plant-based and uber-healthy. It makes a great sandwich or wrap – that is if you don’t eat it all straight out of the bowl.
3 cups chickpeas (2 cans will do)
1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. Tamari
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. nori flakes
1 Tbsp. unsalted sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 cup diced red onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced pickles
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Leave a few whole chickpeas if desired.
- Add the maple syrup, Tamari, mustard, nori flakes, and sunflower seeds. Mix well.
- Add the red onion, celery, and pickels. Mix well
- If you can’t find nori flakes, use nori sheets that can usually be found in the Asian food section. Just break a bit of the sheet up using a spice grinder or even a roll pin will do.
- Add your own special touches such as shredded carrot, cucumber, water chestnuts or even black olives. The sky is the limit.
- Category: Salads
- Method: Dicing and mixing
- Cuisine: Plant-based
Keywords: Whole food, plant-based not-tuna chickpea salad