Chickpea tuna salad recipe: tasty, simple and for everyone
Time: prep. 10 mins
Difficulty: very easy
Yields: 2-3 portions
Chickpea tuna salad surprises and conquers even omnivores, not only for its goodness, but also for other sustainability related reasons
In fact, especially tuna, amongst all kinds of fish cannot be called sustainable at all, despite what you see printed on the tins.
The label ‘sustainable and certified fishing’ seems to be yet another scam: as denounced by the famous docufilm ‘Seaspiracy’, the controller admits that they do not carry out any checks on the work of those who should instead supervise; therefore labels such as ‘no dolphins were killed to catch this tuna’ are most likely a colossal lie.
And then when you see with your own eyes (by spending my life on a boat since 2008, I can get a very clear idea of the trend, even without watching a documentary) that there are fewer and fewer fish and more and more fishing nets at the bottom of the sea, you frankly feel a little less inclined to open a can of tuna!
But there are also other reasons to give up or drastically reduce the consumption of canned tuna:
– the ‘handy’ canned tuna may contain bisphenol A, also known as BPA. You know that coating in the can that prevents direct contact of the metal with the fish and oil (or water)? Well, it can cause several health problems: according to the results of a research conducted by Salvagente, all the cans tested (6 to be exact) contained a concentration (0.03-0.04mg/kg) very close to the threshold allowed by EFSA (0.05mg/kg) due to the migration of BPA from the protective coating. EFSA itself is considering lowering this threshold from 0.05 to 0.004mg/kg, which means that we have been exposed to BPA above permissible levels for many years!
– the problems with the practical can don’t end there: a 2020 study that analyzed 102 examples of cans found 66 out of 102 samples contaminated with zinc; while all samples were contaminated with aluminium and tin.
By now you may be thinking that by eliminating metal cans and opting for glass jars (no matter what they cost), you can continue to enjoy tuna without risking anything… well I have some bad news for you;
– Apart from the packaging, one cannot be sure with the tuna itself. Industrially caught tuna are huge specimens, from 250 to 900 kilos and with a life span of 15 to 30 years. During their long lives, tuna accumulate, directly or otherwise, all the pollution caused by man (to a small extent even by the eruption of volcanoes) that can be translated into heavy metals; namely mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.
For obvious health reasons related to the intake of heavy metals, the consumption of tuna is not recommended for pregnant women, young children, or adults suffering from multiple diseases.
Moreover, according to a very recent study, the intake of one portion (120g) of tuna per week could have carcinogenic effects on the person[3,4].
At this point, I invite you to read up on the ingredients needed to make your own chickpea tuna salad: I think you will no longer want to buy a tin just for its convenience; if, on the other hand, you chose it mainly for the taste, this recipe will help you happily ‘forget’ it.
Ingredients for chickpea tuna salad (approx. 500g)
approx. 300g cooked chickpeas
50g vegan mayonnaise (I recommend this homemade aquafaba mayonnaise)
2 tbsp soy yogurt (non-vegans can use plain yogurt)
1 sheet of Nori seaweed for sushi, finely chopped (optional, but helps to enhance the umami taste)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
3-4 branches of finely chopped sea asparagus (if you can’t find it, add half a stalk of chopped celery)
2-3 pickles, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce or similar
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
sea salt and black pepper
Making chickpea tuna salad is certainly not as quick as opening a tin (of tuna or industrial vegan tuna), but without a shadow of a doubt anyone will be able to prepare it, so simple: placing all the ingredients on the counter will take you longer than it takes to bring this delicacy to life.
I know, the recipe calls for a lot of ingredients; and in case you don’t already have them at home, the amount of money you will have to spend may be far from cheap, but I would like to reassure you that every food on this long list has an equally long expiry date! This means you can prepare it over and over again, buying only the fresh ingredients at the time
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Drain the chickpeas and, if you want a more digestible chickpea tuna salad, remove their skins; then chop them with a food processor, without making a totally homogenous puree; transfer to a large bowl.
Chop the nori seaweed, onion, capers, pickles, sea asparagus (or celery) and garlic very finely.
Add the sauces and liquid ingredients and mix well.
Add the chickpeas to the rest, adjust the salt and lemon (I always double the dosage to increase the absorbed iron: find out how here).
Et voila! You are ready to use it for your sandwiches or to serve it as a side.
Of course, chickpea tuna salad does not contain the same amount of protein as the original tuna salad, but fortunately neither do the toxins and fats: 100g of drained tuna contains about 46% lipids, relegating the coveted omega-3 to a paltry 0.08g per 100g.
Combining it with the domestic avocado (harvested from November until May, in countries of the northern hemisphere, including Italy) is a perfect way to increase the good fats.
For a complete meal in terms of nutrients, as well as providing us with the necessary satiety, serve it with a rich salad, perhaps with sprouts (you can easily grow them at home yourself) and probiotic sauerkraut, so as to reinvigorate the intestinal microbiome along with a delight for the palate.
Enjoy your chickpea tuna salad and happy revolution to all
1) Al Ghoul, Lara et al. “Zinc, aluminium, tin and Bis-phenol a in canned tuna fish commercialized in Lebanon and its human health risk assessment.” Heliyon vol. 6,9 e04995. 23 Sep. 2020
2) Oto Miedico, Ciro Pompa, Sebastiano Moscatelli, Andrea Chiappinelli, Leonardo Carosielli, A. Eugenio Chiaravalle, Lead, cadmium and mercury in canned and unprocessed tuna: six-years monitoring survey, comparison with previous studies and recommended tolerable limits, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 94, 2020, 103638,
3) Safak Ulusoy, Determination of toxic metals in canned tuna sold in developed and developing countries: Health risk assessment associated with human consumption,
Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 187, 2023, 114518, ISSN 0025-326X
4) Jamal Rahmani, Yadolah Fakhri, Abbas Shahsavani, Zohreh Bahmani, Mauricio A. Urbina, Salvatore Chirumbolo, Hassan Keramati, Bigard Moradi, Abotaleb Bay, Geir BjÃ¸rklund, A systematic review and meta-analysis of metal concentrations in canned tuna fish in Iran and human health risk assessment, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 118, 2018, Pages 753-765
5) BDA banca dati di composizione degli alimenti per studi epidemiologici in Italia