Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sammy

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sammy is hearty sandwich that fulfills a favorite flavor profile. (photos by Deborah Brooks)

Last week I shared a recipe for meringue cookies using aqua faba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas. But what about the chickpeas? What happened to those creamy orbs of deliciousness and nutrition? While I could have simply tossed them into a salad or added them to a soup, I made my favorite lunch.

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sammy.

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sammy is hearty sandwich that fulfills a favorite flavor profile from my past food life.

Now, as with meat and chicken replacements, I get so many queries about why I or any vegan, for that matter, would want to eat foods that replicate animals, in this case fish. Well, I liked the taste of fish when I ate it. That’s not why I chose not to eat it. My choice was and continues to be to not participate in an industry that wreaks havoc on the environment. In addition, tuna, in particular, is well known to contain toxic amounts of mercury, a heavy metal that is a health hazard for humans. Therefore replacing it with a tasty substitution is good for all involved. Especially the tuna! Plus, a can of chickpeas can be had for about a dollar when on sale. It’s a great way to stretch your food shopping budget.

You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this. Even substituting one meal a week with a plant-based option is a great decision. Plus, it’s really tasty. Just ask hubby, who was a bit skeptical as I mashed up the ingredients in a mixing bowl. The verdict? He loved it! He was pleasantly surprised at how it had a mild briny ocean taste similar to tuna.

So what’s the magic to turn a can of chickpeas into a tuna salad replacement? Dried sea plants. For this recipe I’ve used a combination of kelp and dulse granules, both high nutritional value marine vegetables in the seaweed family that are fantastic sources of iodine. Iodine is a mineral that is greatly lacking in our diets now that we mostly consume in bougie non-iodized sea salts instead of iodized table salt. Low iodine levels are associated with thyroid issues, especially in women. Just make sure to use in moderate amounts as too much iodine can have adverse effects on thyroid health.

Kelp and dulse are great ingredients to have in your pantry to sprinkle on hot and cold foods as they add that umami flavor we all love. They’re both available at Whole Foods.

To add to the taste and texture, I like to use a variety of fresh chopped herbs, lots of diced celery for crunch and chopped scallions for a mild onion bite. Plant-based mayo and a squeeze of lemon are the only other additions. Because the chickpeas are salted and the kelp and dulse have a salty taste, I don’t add additional salt. That’s a personal preference and I have noted it as an option in the recipe.

Generously smeared on thick buttery slices of vegan brioche from Trader Joe’s, or any other favorite bread, with juicy slices of summer tomatoes and crisp romaine lettuce leaves this is a sandwich that will please family and friends. Serve it with potato and pickle chips on the side and lunch is served!

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sammy
Makes 3 sandwiches

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and allowed to dry a few minutes
1 T reserved aqua faba, the chickpea liquid from the can of chickpeas
2 heaping T vegan mayo, or to taste
1 tsp kelp granules, or to taste
½ tsp dulse granules, or to taste
1 heaping T fresh chopped dill
1 heaping T fresh chopped parsley
2 T chopped scallions, green part only
Good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Fine sea salt, to taste, optional

Dump the rinsed chickpeas in a cloth kitchen towel and wrap up. Rub the skins off of the chickpeas with the towel and discard.

Put in a medium sized bowl. Mash the chickpeas with the reserved aqua faba liquid. This will moisten the chickpeas without relying on extra mayo. I use a potato masher. You will probably remove more skins as you mash. Discard. I like to keep some of the chickpeas more intact for texture, while others quite mashed. Add the mayo to taste and combine well.

Add the kelp and dulse a bit at a time to see your preference and combine well. Taste for flavor. Adjust to your liking.

Mash chickpeas with a potato masher.

Add in the herbs, scallions, and lemon juice and combine.

Let the salad rest for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste again and adjust mayo, herbs, seasonings and lemon juice to your liking. Add salt at this time, to taste, if so desired.
This salad is also delicious made in advance and refrigerated. It keeps for several days in a covered container.

When ready to serve spread a scoop on bread and top with tomatoes and lettuce.
Serve with potato and pickle chips on the side for a bountiful lunch or light supper.
This is a great sandwich to take on picnics!

Key ingredients for Chickpea Tuna
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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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