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Chickpea of the Sea!

Image of Mock Tuna Salad
By Dennis Linden

Here’s a very tasty vegetarian version of the iconic Tuna Salad from the kitchen of Melissa’s Associate Adriana Cadenas. Adriana creates a very inventive way of using Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzo Beans that even looks like the real thing! With the concern that some tuna can contain dangerous amounts of mercury and, if fished improperly, can result in large quantities of bycatch of threatened and endangered species, Adriana provides a healthy alternative to this classic dish without the concerns associated with the original recipe’s main ingredient.

The three basic ingredients of any tuna salad are mayo, celery, and the fish. By roughly smashing a package of our ready-to-eat Garbanzo Beans into chunks, which are almost an exact color match for tuna, Adriana’s technique definitely plays a visual trick on the palate – after all, we all “eat” with our eyes first!

While no one is suggesting that Garbanzo Beans will ever taste like tuna fish, still, Adriana made this writer forget that culinary detail with a tasty ingredient list that kept my taste buds “distracted” with other flavors in her recipe! I used a finely diced jalapeño out of preference, though Adriana also suggests a Serrano pepper for a little more spicy kick (or both!). White Balsamic gives this mixture a pleasant tang, while the Dijon mustard and red onion both added an edge of sweetness. Of course, even a mock tuna salad must have celery for that crunchy texture that is synonymous with the original recipe.

This is a very simple recipe that can be whipped up quickly for lunch as I did several times – did I mention that the dish is slightly addicting! Adriana’s recipe is also meant to flex with personal preferences; try a chopped hard-boiled egg or, maybe, pickle relish to add yet another flavor dimension. In fact, I highly recommend the mixture as the base for a mock tuna melt sandwich by adding avocado, a sharp cheddar, spread on a favorite whole grain bread, then grilled quickly!
Image of Adriana Cadenas
Adriana just celebrated her 19th year as member of the Melissa’s staff. “I am the Warehouse Office Manager,” she said, adding “I also assist the Human Resources Department for the warehouse employees.” She also admitted to being a music junkie, who likes just about any musical genre that is foot-tapping. In fact, Adriana is interested in all forms of art. At the moment that interest is focused around honing her skills in nature photography. Last year she gave herself a birthday trip to Yosemite so she could try her hand at capturing the park’s magnificent scenery on film.

For Adriana, being a member of the Melissa’s family of dedicated employees is a family affair, literally, as her sister Maira also works with her in Melissa’s Shipping Department. Speaking of family, Adriana “blames” her brother, Ralph, as the inspiration for her Mock Tuna recipe. “Ralph is vegan,” she explained. “I was running out of dishes that we could enjoy together. So I started playing around with making-over some of my existing repertoire of dishes to suit my brother dietary discipline. I guess I am my brother’s keeper; at least in the kitchen, anyway!”

Mock Tuna Salad
Serves 2
Image of Ingredients for Mock Tuna Salad

2 sticks Celery, diced
4 Tablespoons Cilantro, diced
1 Jalapeño or Serrano, seeded and diced
½ Large Red Onion, diced
1 package Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzo Beans, smashed
3 Tablespoons Veganaise (option: Mayonnaise)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard and
2 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar

Image of prepared ingredients
Dice celery, cilantro, and onion. Scoop out pepper seeds with a serrated spoon, then fine dice.
Image of Drain & smash garbanzos into medium, flaky chunks
Drain & smash garbanzos into medium, flaky chunks.
Image of In a large mixing bowl, first combine all the vegetables (a), then add in Veganaise, mustard and vinegar (b)
In a large mixing bowl, first combine all the vegetables (a), then add in Veganaise, mustard and vinegar (b).
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