Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

chickpeaI have noticed a new trend, and it involves chickpeas. I have seen a lot of restaurants from Lancaster to Philadelphia serving chickpea “tuna” salad as a vegan alternative. However, even you meat eaters can enjoy the taste of this amazing trend!

So what’s the secret? How could chickpeas possibly taste anything like delicious tuna?

The secret is plum vinegar, called umeboshi vinegar. The umeboshi vinegar introduces a seafood-like flavor into the dish, thus making it taste similar to tuna. Some recipes suggest crumbling in some dried seaweed, called nori, in addition to the plum vinegar.

Start experimenting!

Vegetarian “Chickpea of the Sea” Salad, by www.thekitchnn.com
Makes 2 to 4 sandwiches. Adapted from The Kripalu Cookbook.

  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (or vegan alternative)
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery, from about one rib
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions, from about about two scallions
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 slices whole grain or artisan-style bread
  • 2 to 4 lettuce leaves, washed and dried well

Place chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times to roughly chop. Add remaining ingredients and pulse two or three times more to incorporate.

Lay out the bread and place the lettuce leaves on two slices. Spoon on the Chickpea of the Sea and top with the other slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy!


  • Vegan Alternative: Use vegan mayo or a vinaigrette in place of the mayonnaise. (Try one of these two vegan mayonnaise recipes.)

  • To make without a food processor: Place the drained chickpeas in a bowl and mash slightly with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. You may want to chop the celery and onions a little finer for this version, since they won’t be getting an additional chop in the processor.