This vegan tuna salad gets its light “sea” flavor from the sea vegetable arame. Silken tofu adds creaminess without a lot of fat.
Eaten any good algae lately? Chances are you have, even if you didn’t know it.
Algae, or sea vegetables, are used as stabilizers or thickeners in everything from mayo to ice cream, and even if you avoid processed foods, you’ve probably enjoyed sushi wrapped up in nori or miso soup flavored with wakame. But if you aren’t a fan, there are several good reasons to start developing a taste for them.
Besides providing the “broadest range of minerals of any food,” sea vegetables contain phytonutrients called lignans that protect against cancer, iodine that promotes healthy thyroid function, and folic acid that prevents birth defects and heart disease. But perhaps the best reason to eat them is for the unique flavor and texture they add to dishes.
For me, a little bit of “sea”soning goes a long way. I can’t stand food with a strong fishy taste, so I use sea vegetables very carefully and have come to know which ones are mild and which ones can be overpowering if misused. (I once had to triple the liquid in a miso soup because the wakame I sprinkled in too generously made it too fishy to eat.) I’m very careful with hijiki and wakame and even know which brands of nori will be too strong, but I’ve found that I can’t add too much arame.
If you’re just learning to cook with sea vegetables, arame is a good one to start with. It has a much milder taste than other seaweeds, and its long, thin strands rehydrate in just five minutes. Arame adds a delicate flavor and interesting texture to burgers, “crab” cakes, or salads, like this one, and once it’s rehydrated, it can be stir-fried along with other vegetables or used as a garnish on salads, sandwiches or just about anything. Try it in this vegan “tuna” salad, and feel free to add more if you like your salad to taste more “tuna-y.”
Sea-sational Chickpea Salad
- 1 tablespoon organic arame* crushed between fingers slightly (about 3 grams)
- 1/2 cup silken tofu* lite preferred
- 15 ounces cooked chickpeas (1 can or about 1 3/4 cups, drained)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
- 1 rib celery chopped
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Break the arame into smaller pieces before measuring. Rinse it in a strainer and place it in a small bowl. Add just enough water to cover and soak for 5 minutes. Drain (reserve the soaking water, if you like, and add it to the salad) and set aside.
- Combine the tofu and half the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse several times to mash all of the chickpeas well. Add remaining chickpeas and the carrots and pulse once or twice to roughly chop. Scrape into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients, including reserved arame. Cover and chill for at least half an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Check seasonings, adding more to taste.
- Serve with raw vegetables or as a sandwich filling.
VariationsFor an old-fashioned Southern flavor, try adding a couple tablespoons of sweet pickle relish.
Nutritional info is approximate.
More Salads to Consider:
- Vegan “Tuna” Salad from Gluten-Free Goddess
- Healthy Kale and Seaweed Salad from Diet, Dessert and Dogs
- Wakame Yam Noodle Salad from Veggie Wedgie
- Julienned vegetable salad with wakame seaweed from Cafe Liz
Elessar TetramarinerSeptember 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm
Gosh darnit, Susan, this looks delicious. The last meat I ever at back in ’72 was tuna (I had to spit it out because it tasted wrong, as a new vegetarian. I knew then I could never turn back to being a meat eater.) You cannot get either arame or Old Bay Seasoning here in the wilderness. I have wakame, nori, kombu…and have been carrying them around for YEARS hoping someone would be interested…
RickiSeptember 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm
I love arame–it’s absolutely my favorite sea veggie–and I an just taste how delicious this salad must be! I love how the chickpeas and tofu together are used as a kind of mayo/binder, too. 🙂
TessSeptember 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm
Always looking for new ways to incorporate sea veggies. This looks delish!
MagdaSeptember 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm
I have arame but I don’t use it very much, sometimes with edamame. More often I eat kombu or wakame with a miso soup. I make a broth for miso with kombu soaked in water and I also try not to use a lot of sea vegetables because their strong flavor might bother me sometimes.
dhyanaSeptember 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm
a macrobiotic cooking teacher gave me the sea-veggie tip of a life time — use fresh ginger — it neutralizes the fishy taste — works every time! bon apetite!
MariaSeptember 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Yum! This looks amazing but alas, all I have ever had is the sheets of nori in a veggie roll. I may have to venture out a bit to find such yummies now. Question — How does one keep these items, in the refrigerator, pantry shelf, and what is the general shelf life of such items?
SusanVSeptember 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm
Since they’re dried, they’ll keep almost indefinitely if you keep them sealed tightly. Plus, you can find them in bulk at natural food stores, allowing you to just buy a little at a time.
CarinSeptember 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm
This recipe sounds very good! I’m definitely going to try it. Can you tell me about your MyPoints program you use to do the nutritional analysis of your recipes and where it is found?
SusanVSeptember 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm
Carin, I use a program called Living Cookbook that enables you to set a formula to use when calculating points. The Weight W@tchers’ formula is patented, but if you search you can find it online and use it to figure out the points as long as you know the number of calories, fat grams, and fiber in a serving.
CarinSeptember 9, 2010 at 7:13 am
Thanks Sue for the info.
CarinSeptember 9, 2010 at 7:22 am
Wow!! Sue the software for Living Cookbook is awesome. I’m definitely getting it. Once again.
MariaSeptember 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm
Thanks for the info Susan.
ConnieSeptember 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm
I really want to incorporate more sea vegetables into my diet and I’ve found that the Asian grocer down the street stocks quite a bit of it- problem is all the labels are in Japanese or Korean. And well, dried sea veggies can look an awful lot like dried parts of animals or other weird things.
JL Goes VeganSeptember 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm
Another gorgeous recipe! Thank you!
Amber Shea @Almost VeganSeptember 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm
I too am averse to fishy flavor, though I want to find ways to include sea vegetables in my diet. Do you think dulse would work in this? I happen to have a bag lying around here somewhere…
SusanVSeptember 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm
I would just rehydrate the dulse and then chop it and add it to taste. I hope you enjoy it!
Veronica (lifewithnature)September 9, 2010 at 8:18 am
It looks delicious. The texture really reminds me of tuna salad. I’m slowly starting to get used to seaweed taste. It’s sooo healthy that I convinced myself to acquire this taste.
LoriSeptember 9, 2010 at 11:54 am
I love that this doesn’t have any mayo in it – definitely going to give it a try. Thanks, Susan!
Ms_MinSeptember 9, 2010 at 9:10 pm
Made this for dinner tonight. After the first bite, my 15 year old son (not a vegan), said, “Hey, this is like tuna salad!” Both kids and DH loved it. We made sandwiches with it and slices of garden tomatoes and cucumbers…a really good, quick and easy weeknight dinner. It was a little thin to put on a school-lunch sandwich (it would goop out the side), but for a sandwich at the dinner table it was perfect. We’re having it again soon.
JillS.September 10, 2010 at 8:57 am
I am just starting to try sea vegetables. Thanks for the info on arame – sounds just like what I need to dip my toe in the water. Recipe looks great!
MaggieSeptember 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm
Made this last night and just had it for lunch today — AMAZING. I’ve been missing tuna salad so this hit the spot. I used Wakame instead of Arame because I already had some at home. I didnt have smoked paprika or old bay seasoning so instead I used spike, salt, lots of black pepper and some cayenne.
So delicious, I cant thank you enough for sharing this!
JessicaSeptember 11, 2010 at 7:03 am
Hi Susan. If I use ground nori instead of arame, will I need to soak it first? Thanks.
SusanVSeptember 11, 2010 at 7:08 am
No, I would just sprinkle it on to taste. The salad will moisten it enough.
nicoleSeptember 11, 2010 at 5:48 pm
Hi Susan..I just wanted to check first, is 1/2 C of the tofu equal to half a package of the silken tofu? Or would it be more like a 1/3 of the block? Thanks!
SusanVSeptember 11, 2010 at 10:27 pm
It’s closer to 1/3 of a package. Enjoy!
SherylSeptember 11, 2010 at 11:07 pm
The dish looks great and I was wondering if is it possible to use a term other than ‘birth defects’. It implies that people with disabilities are “defective” and that’s kind of offensive. How about ‘birth disabilities’ instead? It’s clear and direct without being demeaning. Thanks!
AllisonOctober 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm
Are you high?
VeganInTheKitchenSeptember 12, 2010 at 7:53 am
I can’t wait to try this!
carol - ley de atraccionSeptember 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm
it looks great! thanks for the contribution!
LizSeptember 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm
Thanks for the link. Your recipe is such a creative combination of flavors, I don’t think I ever would have thought to mix arame and Old Bay!
KellySeptember 13, 2010 at 9:43 am
Sounds yummy! I love chickpeas and have chickpea “faux tuna salad” at least once a week if not every day 🙂 I’ve just started using nori (broken unto pieces) and like the more real fish flavor it gives. You have such beautiful photography on here!
LavernSeptember 15, 2010 at 9:36 am
thanks for sharing this recipe. i really love it. i tried it once and i can’t wait to have it again. everyone should have to try this. it’s healthy food. good for everyone. enjoy! 🙂
kensington cookerSeptember 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm
I’ve been enjoying your delightful recipes for months. For a person who follows the Ornish plan to keep cholesterol in check, your site is perfect. High time I expressed some appreciation. I’ve had some nori languishing on a shelf for months, so I used that instead of arame. I hadn’t seen your reply about using nori dry so I soaked it, but that worked out well because adding the soaking water enhanced the sea taste. I don’t have a food processor but it was easy to mash/chop the ingredients the old fashioned way, by brute force ( don’t worry, it was fairly gentle brute force). And no smoked paprika around so I used regular pap and a drop of liquid smoke. It came out yummy despite all those deviations, another thing I like about your recipes. PLUS, it was easy. No more tuna envy! You have become an indispensable presence in my kitchen, Susan. Thank you so much.
KadyMSeptember 16, 2010 at 7:10 am
Those look absolutely delicious… I often throw chickpeas in stews/pasta bakes so now I’ve found a new use for them! Thanks for sharing…
moonsmaSeptember 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm
Made it for lunch. It was delicious!!
Ryann McQuarrie-SalikSeptember 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm
So inspiring! I just pressure cooked some dried chickpeas w/ kombu and some crumpled nori to do a “Chick-pea of the Sea” and the results were incredible. If I ever get around to launching my new vegan/healthy living site, I’ll show you the pictures!
Thanks for always keeping us fed!
Heather Loves Healthy Vegan RecipesSeptember 18, 2010 at 4:13 am
nice recipe, I’ll have to try this! Just wondering – what is Old Bay seasoning? Is there a mix of individual herbs/spices I can mix up to approximate this?
sepetersDecember 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm
1 tbsp whole celery seed, 1 tbsp whole peppercorn, 4-6 bay leaves, 4 whole cloves, 1 tsp paprika (not smoked), 1/2 tsp whole cardamom, 1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp fenugreek, 1/4 tsp mace.
Give it all a good whir in the spice or cleaned coffee mill.
kensington cookerSeptember 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm
The label on my can of Old Bay mentions” spices and herbs including” red pepper, black pepper, salt, and paprika. Of course the details and proportions are a trade secret.
moonwatcherSeptember 18, 2010 at 10:44 pm
This looks great, and I look forward to trying it. As you know, I love sea veggies as much as you love hot peppers and spices! This will be a fun thing to add to the repertoire. I enjoyed reading all the comments about how people use seaweed or how they are going to try it, too. I would second that comment about adding ginger. And to the folks who can’t find Bay Seasoning, I couldn’t either, a year and a half ago, but I searched the internet and found a recipe for it and made my own. Don’t have the link anymore, but its out there.
All hail to sea veggies! And thanks for another great post. 🙂
StinaSeptember 20, 2010 at 1:02 am
I love sea veggies! This looks so yummy and I can’t wait to make it.
JanessaSeptember 20, 2010 at 2:40 am
Yum! I’ve been curious about eating more sea food (but not seafood! :D) and this is a great recipe to try it.
ClassSeptember 20, 2010 at 6:37 pm
This is so inspired! I made a few adjustments based on what I had (chopped purple cabbage instead of celery, nori instead of arame, firm tofu instead of silken, “River Bay” seasoning instead of “Old Bay” seasoning…I figure as long as 50% of the words in the spice’s name overlap, then I’m fine…), and it turned out great! And because I’m a serial over-salter, naturally had to throw in some chopped pickle.
Really unique and tasty overall–
Laura PSeptember 23, 2010 at 8:58 am
This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering if you think it would work with okara instead of the silken tofu, similar to your other crab cake recipe here: https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/07/okara-crab-cakes.html
I like the idea of incorporating sea vegetables and chickpeas in this one! Can’t wait to try it!
SusanVSeptember 23, 2010 at 9:08 am
Laura, it will work fine with okara, much like the chickpea salads on this page: https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2008/10/two-chickpea-salads.html.
LaurenSeptember 24, 2010 at 10:11 am
I have to say that I was apprehensive to try this recipe but it was just delicious. Low Fat Recipes like this is are a great option for people to have. I think that sometime it is just a matter of trying something new and knowing that it is a delicious but healthier alternative to some of the maybe more unhealthy things you eat on a daily basis. I work with Better Recipes and I really enjoy finding healthy recipes like this!
lovemyfamilySeptember 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm
I was really looking forward to this one, but I did not like it at all. My hubby liked it a lot and ate a good amount. I’ll have to try it without the arame and a different spice than old bay.
Kerry Cloud-PittSeptember 26, 2010 at 7:34 am
First off, your blog is WONDERFUL!!! Thank you for your recipes. I made this “tuna” and added more arame and some dulse (I have already love sea vegetables so am used to and love the fishy-ness of it). I also added a bit of dijon mustard and, as a nod to my childhood tuna salad love, some relish! Honestly, my husband and I COULD NOT STOP EATING THE STUFF!!! But the true test was my in-laws (80 and 89 years old). I am cooking for them and have been wowing these two old school, conservative, meat loving folks with vegan meals. They LOVED it!!! So, THANKS for a new staple in our vegan recipe file! By the way, I always order my chickpeas, among other amazing beans from ranchogordo.com. They are a wonderful farm in California that grow heirloom beans. Their products are affordable, shipping is cheap and the beans are amazing!
SereneSeptember 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm
I keep coming back to this post. I really need to make it tomorrow. I’m craving it and I haven’t even tried it yet. 🙂
JoLynn-dreaminitveganSeptember 28, 2010 at 12:31 am
My husband loves chickpea “tuna” salad. I’ve never made it with the addition of tofu or old bay seasoning. I’ll be trying this out for sure.
Cook 4 Vegan FamilyOctober 9, 2010 at 9:52 am
Having been a lifelong vegetarian (now vegan), I’ve never had tuna salad but my husband says it really reminds him of tuna salad of years ago. It took us a while to find the Old Bay Seasoning, but we liked this so much that we already put it on the menu again. And, it gets better after sitting in the fridge for a while. Great for sandwiches at work the next day.