One of the natural food stores in my area has a great salad bar, where I love to get my vegetable-and-protein fix after a long trail run. They have a vegan tuna salad (as in “tuna”) that I put on top of my greens every time. It has a wonderful flavor and texture; I’ve been meaning to recreate it at home for months.
At this point you may be cocking your head, wondering how one makes tuna salad meatless. I was befuddled too, until I saw the ingredients listed on a placard above the salad bar. Are you ready? Almonds, sunflower seeds, onion, celery, parsley, and lemon juice. That’s it. Mind blown.
The trick here is to soak the almonds and sunflower seeds in water, drain them, then grind them up with the rest of the ingredients. No mayonnaise, no fuss, no cooking. Never in a million years did I think nuts and seeds could mimic a tuna salad, but they do! The texture is definitely not the same as fish, but the flavor is strangely close–without being “fishy.” You can serve this raw, vegan, high-protein salad with crackers, in a wrap, as a dip or on a sandwich with your favorite fixings (I like it on toasted bread with spring greens, avocado, red onion and bell pepper).
If you need inspiration to pull yourself out of the what-do-I-eat-for-lunch sandwich rut, this recipe will absolutely do the trick!
You won't believe how much this vegan tuna salad tastes like the real thing! Serve it as a spread for vegetables or make your own meatless tuna salad sandwiches.
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 1 cup raw or roasted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 2 cups celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup (packed) fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Place the almonds and sunflower seeds in a bowl and soak them for 4 hours.
- Strain the almonds and sunflower seeds in a fine mesh sieve and transfer them to a blender or food processor and process until a thick, gritty paste is formed (it should be sticky). This will require some time, so you may need to stop, stir, and re-start your blender/food processor several times.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the blender/food processor, and process until everything has come together. There will be chunks of celery and onion, so if you prefer a more uniform “salad,” make sure you chop them finely before adding them to the blender.
- Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving. Serve with crackers or veggies, or make it into a sandwich or wrap with your favorite fixings.
Prep time doesn't include the 4 hours soaking time for the almonds and sunflower seeds.