Vegan Tuna “Fish” Salad with Secret “Boiled Egg” Ingredient

[Photo caveat: I apologize for the quality of this photo.  My trusty camera finally went on the fritz.  And, while I plan to replace it soon, I want to upgrade, but don’t want to spend the money just yet.  So, this photo was taken with my phone, which is a Droid rather than an iPhone, and I don’t believe the quality is as good as the latter.  However, before the summer is out, I plan to have a new camera!]

Okay, so it’s not exactly standard July 4 fare, but…cold and creamy, tuna fish salad (vegan of course) sounded so good to me on a recent hot and humid day that I decided to create a batch, holiday appropriate or not.  (BTW, does it amuse you like it does me that the weather reporters act like 90+ and a hundred degree weather in July is “news”?)

I had never tried a vegan version.  I do make a Vegan Clam Chowder that receives rave reviews, so I felt sure I could capture that briny taste…and I did (!) courtesy of some Dulce granules available in health food stores and, possibly upmarket grocery stores.  I buy it at our local Organic Depot.

But my mother always made tuna salad with chopped boiled egg and I wanted to try to capture that flavor as well.  My Vegan Egg Salad is tops in many folks’ (recipe) books so, I decided to add a little of the secret eggy ingredient: Indian black salt.  It has an aromatic sulfury taste that mimics that of cooked eggs perfectly.  You can buy it most affordably at Indian markets, but you can also order it online.

But what about the protein?  The only one I had in the house after a whole week away at TICA (what a beautiful honor and experience that was!) seemed oddly appropriate: chick peas, lightly mashed.

The rest was easy:  a little mayo, finely chopped celery, pickle relish and, for good measure, celery salt (though celery seed would substitute nicely).  Enjoy this salad as you would any tuna salad: on crackers; in a sandwich with toasted bread and some curly lettuce; stuffed inside a firm, ripe tomato as we do “down South;” as a lighter canape on cucumber slices; or as the ultimate indulgence: on fried green tomato slices as in the photo!  I garnished them with dab more mayo, a sliver of dill pickle (because I didn’t have sweet), and a tiny pinch of both Dulce granules and Indian black salt.

I simply couldn’t resist the tomatoes at the farmer’s market.  To fry them, just slice them about 1/4-1/3 of an inch thick, dredge them first in a little flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then in unsweetened soymilk seasoned with the same, and then back into the flour before sauteing a couple of minutes on each side in canola oil over medium-high heat.   Drain on paper towels.

2-15 ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup finely diced celery

4-5 tablespoons mayo (I like my own homemade mayo or Vegenaise the best, but can rarely find the latter, so Nayonaise is fine; it just has a stronger taste.  If you use milder Vegenaise, you may need slightly less Dulce granules.)

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (use dill pickle relish if you prefer)

1 tablespoon Dulce granules (see note above next to “mayo.”  Also, feel free to substitute Kelp granules, but you may need to adjust the amount.)

1/2 teaspoon Indian black salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon celery salt or celery seed or to taste

In a medium bowl, coarsely mash the chick peas with a fork or a potato masher and sprinkle celery over the top.  In a small bowl, whisk together mayo and remaining ingredients.  Pour over pea and celery mixture and toss well to fully incorporate.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.









Though published a year ago, I hope my cookbook The Blooming Platter: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes will always be relevant with its emphasis on tasty, nutritious, beautiful, and seasonal vegan fare.  If you need a little gift for yourself or a friend/family member, you can obtain it simply by following the link. And thanks in advance !

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My Friends and I Ate Like (Vegan) Field Hands at Founding Farmers in D.C.

Vegan "Fish" and Chips at Founding Fathers Restaurant in D.C.

What’s better than introducing two of your nearest and dearest?

Nothing, unless it’s introducing them over a fabulous lunch at the hip and eco-sensitive restaurant, Founding Farmers!

In the middle of July, Allison Price, a close friend from my time in Nashville some 20+  years ago, spent a week here in VA Beach.  In the middle of the week, she and I headed to D.C. for an overnighter.

Our visit included lunch with Sonya Harmon, another close friend from some 10+ years ago when we worked together at the Contemporary Art Center of VA, followed by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.

Allison, Betsy and Sonya at Founding Fathers in D.C.


Sonya now lives in the D.C. area and generously took the afternoon off from work so that she could join Allison and I for lunch and a little museum-going.  Both of these gifted gals coincidentally now work as editors and feel they’ve known each other for a long time.  Our lunch destination was Sonya’s spot-on recommendation.   Another coincidence:  Joe and I and another couple with whom we spent New Year’s Eve in D.C. had tried to get into Founding Fathers for brunch on New Year’s Day, but it was too crowded.

I am patting myself on the back for trying it again, as I enjoyed one of the most satisfying restaurant meals in recent memory.  Granted, the company was tops, which added to the experience immeasurably, but the restaurant was beautiful and comfortable in an eco-chic way, the service friendly and professional, and the food outstanding.  I splurged on the vegan “Fish” and Chips from their vegan menu and, for the record, I did NOT eat all of the chips and fries!

But I devoured the fried tofu “fish” and wasn’t hungry again until 9 p.m., and then only because our hotel, Hotel Palomar (fabulous!) at 2121 P Street, NW,  was next door to a magnificent Moroccan Restaurant called Marrakesh Palace where we dined on soup, chickpeas, and homemade bread spread with this nearly indescribable “pesto” of tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, olives and olive oil.

The next morning, Allison and I drove to Baltimore with one destination in mind: the American Visionary Museum.  It came highly recommended by Trish and Ken Pfeifer, local collectors of “outsider art” among other genres who make an annual sojourn to the museum, and we weren’t disappointed.  In fact, we were thrilled.  It was such a refreshing change of pace from the rarefied atmosphere of the “Fragments of Time and Space” temporary exhibition at the Hirshhorn and their too often BS-ridden text panels.  A couple of pieces in the exhibition were noteworthy.  But too much of it fell in the “Emperor Has No Clothes” category.

Don’t get me wrong: I love contemporary art, worked as a contemporary art museum education director for 11 years, and frequently incorporate it into my studio art classes.  But precisely because I find so much of it so deeply meaningful, I cannot abide pseudo-intellectual/academic art or writing about it.  Sorry folks: too often the emperor has doffed his drawers!

The American Visionary Museum proved to be a peak artistic and cultural experience, worth enduring the stop-and-go traffic during our 6-hour ride home (which should have taken about 4 1/2).   Al and I talked until we were hoarse.  In fact, that morning, our eyes and mouths had snapped open simultaneously and we didn’t close them for a good 15  hours!

Betsy and Bus, American Visionary Museum, Baltimore
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Celebrate The Blooming Platter’s One Year Anniversary with Vegan Nutty Tuna Salad

Yield: approximately 4 cups

To celebrate the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of The Blooming Platter, I’m posting this very springlike recipe for an old standby, tuna salad, given fresh new life as a vegan delicacy.

My friend Angela Phillips served this faux tuna salad as part of a lovely, healthy and light Sunday brunch. It’s been a while, but as I recall, everything was served in sparkling crystal and seemed magical.

Thank you for your support during this fledgling year of TBP. It’s enriched my life immeasurably, and I hope it has yours in some small way.

1 cup raw sunflower seeds (I could only find roasted, so I used them and it was delish)
1 cup raw almonds
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon kelp or dulse
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 of an onion, processed to yield 1/4 cup finely chopped
approximately 2-3 stalks celery processed to yield 1/2 cup finely chopped
small handful of parsley processed to yield 1/2 cup finely chopped
optional: 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish or to taste

Barely cover sunflower seeds and almonds with water and soak for 4-8 hours. Drain. Place in food processor with lemon, salt, and kelp or dulse. Blend until it is a texture you like and mix with other ingredients. Serve with lettuce leaves to make wraps, with crackers, in a sandwich, or any way you enjoyed tuna salad in your pre-vegan days.

Source: Angela Phillips

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Vegan Fish Tacos

Yield: 4 Tacos

Few things suggest summer in warm coastal areas more than fish tacos. One bite and you can almost feel the ocean breezes. For the uninitiated, a fish taco consists of a crispy-chewy fried corn tortilla folded around beer-battered fish fillets, finely shredded cabbage and a creamy sauce redolent of capers and cumin. In my vegan version, “seafood” seitan replaces the fish. While seitan cannot be described as “white and flaky” like the cod typically used in fish tacos, when all of the other components meld together with the seitan, the result is just as tasty. Though traditional fish tacos are beer battered (as in this photo), if you prefer your fried foods breaded, I include directions for breading inspired by the way my parents fry fish (see photo in the subsequent post). They dip the fillets in yellow mustard and then in flour or cornmeal. (I use Panko bread crumbs for extra crispiness.) You can’t believe how juicy and flavorful the “fish” is without tasting like a hot dog. If you choose to batter your fillets, they will feel a little “sturdy” when you remove them from the oil. However, when you bite into them, they will taste light. Don’t be put off by what seems like long instructions. These tacos are really very simple and quick once the seitan is cooked, despite the number of steps.

For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan New England "Clam" Chowder

Yield: 4-6 servings

My “skinny” vegan version of this perennial favorite tastes rich, silky and complex, but it contains no seafood nor cream. Instead, homemade setain replaces the clams, and chopped potato skins and Liquid Smoke replace the bacon. (If you have never made homemade seitan, you won’t believe how easy it is. But if, for whatever reason, you know you’ll never make nor eat it, Shitake or oyster mushrooms are an excellent alternative, as they have a slick somewhat chewy texture similar to clams.) The briny seafoody taste comes from kelp, both in the stock in which the seitan is simmered (or the Shitakes are sauteed), and in the soup itself. Vegetable stock combined with unsweetened soy milk provides plenty of creamy goodness and body without being cloying.

2 medium-large white, baking or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (reserve skin) and cubed to make 3 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of Liquid Smoke
3/4 cup chopped onion (medium fine)
1/2 cup chopped celery (split stalks lengthwise and slice crosswise fairly thinly)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kelp granules (you could try powdered kelp, though I haven’t tested it)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups vegetable broth, warmed in the microwave or in a saucepan
2 cups unsweetened soy milk, also warmed in the microwave or in a saucepan (may combine with broth to heat)
1 cup coarsely chopped homemade “seafood seitan” (see below) or Shitake or oyster mushrooms, sauteed in a skillet with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat, seasoned to taste with granulated kelp (in place of salt)
liquid smoke to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Optional garnish: a teaspoon of fresh minced parsley and a tiny pinch of Old Bay seasoning per bowl

In a medium-large saucepan over medium-high, heat oil and melt butterto shimmering. While it heats, dice potato peel. Add the peel, salt and Liquid Smoke to pan, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, as it has a tendency to stick. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until slightly softened. Add celery and do the same. Stir in thyme and kelp, taste, being careful not to burn yourself, and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in potatoes followed by warmed broth and soy milk. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in seitan (recipe follows), additional liquid smoke to taste and parsley, if desired, for a burst of freshness. Serve in bowls topped with a parsley and Old Bay seasoning if desired.

Seafood Seitan

2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-5″ piece of dried kelp, torn into 3-4 strips
1/2 cup wheat gluten
1/2 cup water

In a covered medium saucepan, bring water, soy sauce and kelp to a gentle boil and reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a small to medium bowl, whisk together wheat gluten and water and knead for about 2-5 minutes (some directions recommend 5 minutes, but I find it’s not necessary and can make the seitan a little too chewy and tough). Pull off pieces of seitan, stretching and shaping them into about five to six “fingers” approximately 3″ long. Drop into kelp stock (“fingers” will become shorter and rounder as they cook), cover, and simmer very slowly for about an hour. Check periodically to make sure that liquid has not evaporated. If it does before the cooking time is up, add a little more water. Remove seitan pieces and cool. If any liquid remains, discard or strain and use for another purpose.

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