Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Vegan Tuna Salad
I Reveal My Secret Ingredient

Yield: approximately 4 cups

Growing up, I ate LOTS of canned tuna salad.  After I became a vegetarian and then vegan, chickpea tuna salad seemed to be the standard substitution.  But I didn’t quite get it.  Something was missing; something from the sea.  So I started adding Nori.  (But you can add kelp, dulse, or whatever seaweed-derived product you prefer and can easily acquire.)  Still, that wasn’t quite it.  But then I tried the Hearts of Palm “crabcakes” from Vedge, the eoponymous cookbook from the storied vegan restaurant in Philly.

Brilliant.  For some reason Hearts of Palm–my father’s favorite vegetable (we would put cans of them in his stocking at Christmas)–have a taste and texture close to seafood.  (But not too close for that “ick” factor.)  This recipe is what resulted this week when I tried combining Hearts of Palm with chickpeas, Nori, and other typical tuna salad ingredients.

The walnuts are my nod to the the Omega 3s found in very few foods, including fish and, yes, walnuts.  And, oddly enough, they taste delicious and very appropriate on top.

Please enjoy this super-simple and cooling recipe, perfect for summer.

Note: if you prefer the ingredients to be more homogenized, pulse in a food processor.

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-15.5 ounce can Hearts of Palm, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped [THE SECRET INGREDIENT]

3 celery hearts, diced

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

1 tablespoon Nori powder (or 1 sheet Nori torn into pieces and ground to a powder in an electric spice or coffee grinder)

2 teaspoons pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Garnish: walnut halves or pieces

Place chickpeas in a medium-large bowl and coarsely mash.  Add diced Hearts of Palm and celery hearts.l.  In a small-medium bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients, except walnut halves or pieces.  Pour over chickpea mixture, and toss to coat.  Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.  Serve on toasted whole grain bread with baby greens, a little more mayo, and walnut halves or pieces; on crackers; or old school-style, stuffed in a tomato with an “X” cut into the top and gently separated into 4 sections to make an edible “bowl”.

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