January 17, 2013

"Untuna" Salad

Since the start of this year, my family has been doing a 21 day “Vegan Kickstart” program. We love vegan and vegetarian eating and while I have come to accept that we aren't ready to go totally vegetarian or vegan, we do believe in plant-centric eating and think that limiting foods that come from animals is the healthiest way to go. I think of this 21 day vegan program as a cleanse of sorts. We indulged over the holidays, and this is a great way for us to get back on track. I know we'll more than likely start consuming some animal based foods after the kickstart program is over, but I like that this 21 days has shown my family that eating a plant based diet can be delicious and satisfying. Hopefully now that they've made it this far, they will continue eating this way more often.

This “untuna” salad idea is new to me. Recently one of my amazing food blogger friends, Jill of Simple Daily Recipes, went to the HealthFest in Marshall, TX and she posted a picture on her Facebook of a version of “untuna” salad that intrigued me so much. I had to try my hand at making some! By the way... Jill is such an amazing woman and such an inspiration to me. Over a year ago she and her family went vegan and they've lost weight, gotten healthier and are feeling incredible. If you are interested in vegetarian and vegan eating, I encourage you to follow her in any (or all!) of these venues. She's helpful, friendly and just a really good lady.

I came up with the recipe I've brought you today after doing a bit of research and some trial and error. This recipe is very flexible to your personal tastes. Add dill pickles instead of sweet relish. Leave out the red pepper flakes. Add some mustard. Use a vinaigrette instead of vegan mayo. Use regular mayo, if you're not trying for a totally vegan meal. Serve it on a bed of greens, to stuff cucumber boats, on bread instead of a pita. Whatever you like! Take the basics of my recipe and make it your own :) As I always say... that's the beauty of any recipe... it's just a starting point. A guide to get your creativity flowing.

Before you think I'm crazy.... buy some Nori sheets and try adding it. Seriously. Even if you think you'll dislike it. Try just a bit first before adding it to the entire batch. But I tell you... in my opinion, its the Nori that makes this taste just like traditional tuna salad. The Nori is salty, and gives the salad a taste of the sea. It's really the secret ingredient!

I like this salad best if made a few hours ahead of time and left in the fridge to allow the flavors to mingle a bit before serving... but it's fine to make it and serve it immediately. A squeeze of lemon just before serving is a nice addition, too, if you're into that sort of thing.

Do you try to eat plant-centric meals on occasion? What are some of your favorite vegetarian or vegan meals? I'm always looking for family friendly meatless meals, so please feel free to leave a link to your favorites in the comment section!

“Untuna” Salad

  • 3 (15 oz each) cans of garbanzo beans.
  • ½ to 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ to 1 cup finely chopped green onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped water chestnuts
  • 2-3 sheets Nori, crumbled into fine pieces
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ground pepper

1: Drain and rinse both the garbanzo beans and the water chestnuts. (do not combine)

2: In a food processor, pulse garbanzos until they are small chunks but not pureed.

3: Chop celery, green onion and water chestnuts very finely and set aside.

4: Crumble Nori sheets into fine pieces and set aside.

5: In a large bowl combine processed garbanzos and chopped vegetables. Combine well.

6: Mix in Vegenaise by ½ cup amounts until the salad reaches your preferred consistency.

7: Add sweet pickle relish, red pepper flakes, ground pepper and crushed Nori sheets and combine well. (start with 1 or 2 sheets and taste, adding more to your preference.)

8: Taste and adjust seasoning to your tastes.

9: Refrigerate for a couple hours for best flavor, but serving immediately is acceptable.

Makes approximately 3-4 cups of prepared salad.


  1. Printing this out now. I've got to pressure cook a batch of chickpeas for hummus, but I'm going to cook extra for this salad. I'll be sure to let you know how the kinfolks like it. (I know I'm going to love it already, but you know how kids can be ;D


  2. Love it! This is one of my favorite ways to do un-tuna! It's so satisfying.

    1. I though it was so good! Better than tuna salad... I doubt we'll ever go back to the old way :) Thanks Elle!

  3. Pressure cooking my chickpeas now. I really want to eat this for lunch tomorrow.

    1. I need to try pressure cooking soon... have to get a good pressure cooker! :)

  4. Hmm, makes a lot of sense that the Nori is what makes it have the "tuna" flavor! I'll definitely be trying this out.

    1. Let me know what you think Shelby :) I hope you like as much as we did! Thanks honey!


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