Chickpea Tu-No: Vegan Tuna Salad

Tu-no and may-no

One thing I realized is that if you’re going to eat a boatload of plants everyday, it can’t just be the kind of boring salads most of us were raised on.

In this recipe, you’ll discover a new way to make a moist and veggie-packed tuna salad served on a bed of greens with tomatoes. You’re getting all the good stuff at once: beans, greens, lycopenes (catchy!), plus lemon, herbs, and a bunch of veggies!

Before you start chopping…

Pop the cashews into water to soak for a few minutes. Even better, soak them starting the night before or for a few hours.


I love jam packing in as many veggies as possible in any recipe. Here, the diced cucumber replaces the pickle relish in traditional tuna salad. Celery is there to give it crunch. Red peppers brighten the color. And onions give it flavor depth.

To keep the cucumbers’ crunchy, remove the seedy pulp. Slice the cucumber in half and cut out or scoop out the seeds. Set the seeds aside.

Dice the cucumbers, celery, onion and red peppers.

(I couldn’t find my dang red onion when I made this batch and was taking the photos. Next time, I’ll use red onion to get more of the flavor and color burst than green onions deliver.)

Roughly Chop the Chickpeas

Do you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans? I love them whatever they’re called!

In this step, we’re going for a rough chunky consistency to mimic the chunkiness of tuna salad. Use a fork to partially mass or pulse them quickly with an S-blade in a food processor. Don’t overdo it or you’ll get hummus!

Put the chickpeas and diced veggies together in a bowl. Don’t stir, yet.

“From the Sea” Flavor

To catch the flavor of the sea, use kelp granules or any type of seaweed. (If using seaweed, crush and cut the seaweed into consistent pieces before adding to avoid having odd-sized, gloppy bits.)

Using seaweed, lemon and seasoning mix evokes that seafood vibe. I went with Bragg Sprinkle 24 Herbs and Spices Seasoning and loved it!

Our buddies at One Green Planet recommend using Old Bay Seasoning with lemon and seaweed for any seafood-replacement recipe. (Check out One Green Planet’s seven vegan seafood recipes!)

May-no Sauce

In addition to replacing the tuna, we also need to replace the mayo!

To make the “may-no”, start by adding the cucumber seeds, soaked cashews, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, kelp crystals, seasoning mix and mustard into the food processor bowl. Process until smooth. Use up to 1/2 Cup of the reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba) to thin the may-no to desired consistency.

Six small bowls with may-no sauce ingredients
May-no Ingredients: Top row: chickpea reserved liquid. Middle row: cucumber seeds, soaked cashews. Bottom row: lemon juice, seasoning mix, prepared mustard, kelp granules and apple cider vinegar.

I don’t like dry ‘tuna’ and I prefer not to buy the vegan mayo, because it’s pricey and processed. I used a full 1/2 Cup of liquid and the result was thinner than mayo. But, it seemed like the perfect amount when I mixed it in.

To serve, put a 1 Cup scoop of tu-no on 2 Cups of arugula, with one sliced plum tomato.

Tu-no salad on a bed of arugula with tomatoes

Chickpea Tu-No: Vegan Tuna Salad

  • Author: Joan Gregerson
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Total Time: 30
  • Yield: 4.5 cups 1x


This chickpea tuna-alternative is packed with tons of fresh veggies, plus a creamy, spicy sauce to pull it all together. This is a 100 percent unrefined plant-based party in your mouth!

For a hearty lunch, serve one cup of Tu-No on a bed of greens with slices of tomato.



Tu-No Filling:

  • 3.5 Cups (2 15.5-ounce cans) of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, reserve liquid
  • 2 Cups diced cucumber (1 cucumber), remove and reserve seedy pulp
  • 1 Cup diced celery (3 stalks celery)
  • 1/2 Cup diced onions (4 green onions or 1/2 red onion) 
  • 1 Cup diced red bell peppers (1 large or 4 mini)
  • Black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

May-No Sauce:

  • 1/3 Cup (2 ounces) cashews, soaked for one hour and drained
  • 2 Tbsp prepared Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Seedy pulp from 1 cucumber
  • 2 tsp no-salt spice mix 
  • 2 tsp Sea Kelp crystals (or 1 Tbsp of crushed seaweed), optional
  • up to 1/2 Cup reserved liquid from chickpeas, for desired consistency 

Greens and Tomatoes:

  • 8 Cups fresh arugula
  • 4 sliced plum tomatoes


Soak cashews: To soak, put cashews in a small bowl. Cover with plenty of water and set aside. If possible, soak cashews for 3 hours or longer. Otherwise, just soak them until needed for the may-no sauce in a few minutes. 

Pulse chickpeas: Drain chickpeas, reserving liquid. Use fork to mash chickpeas partially. Or, put chickpeas in food processor and pulse a few times until the garbanzos are roughly chopped. Stop and scrape bottom and sides to prevent accidental hummus! 

Prep veggies: Rinse all veggies under cold running water. Cut cucumber lengthwise in half. Scoop out seedy pulp. Reserve for sauce. Finely dice: cucumbers, celery,  onion, and red bell pepper, all as similar size. For more zing, add a spicy pepper such as Serrano or jalapeno if you like it hot!

Mix filling: Add veggies and roughly chopped chickpeas to large bowl. Rinse food processor bowl.

Make “may-no” sauce: Drain and rinse soaked cashews. Add to clean food processor bowl. Add mustard, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and seedy cucumber pulp. Process for one minutes to check consistency. 

Mix: Pour may-no sauce over filling and stir until well mixed. 

Plate: Scoop one cup of tu-no onto 2 Cups of fresh arugula with 1 sliced tomato. Enjoy!



“From the sea” flavor comes from the mixture of lemon juice, a no-salt spice mix and seaweed. For the no-salt spice mix, use Bragg Sprinkle 24 Herbs and Spices, Old Bay Seasoning or any other spice mix you like. 

Filling variations: Experiment with varieties and quantities of chopped veggies. Add Serrano pepper, jalapeno pepper or red chili flakes, if you like it hot! 

Keeps in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Keeps in freezer for up to one month. If freezing, consider adding cucumber and celery later to retain crrrrunch. 

  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Food processor
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 Cup

Keywords: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, salad, lunch, quick, raw

Leave a Reply