Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tuna Salad? Surely You Jest? Yes!!!

When we were kids my childhood best friend and I both loved to cook.  Some days instead of playing outside we would "play" in the kitchen.  Both of our mothers let us use the kitchen freely with the same rules at each house.  Whatever we created had to be to eaten ( either by us or shared with the family)  and whatever we messed up had to be completely cleaned.  It was a perfect playground for us to cook up anything and everything we could dream of making.

We were only 9 or 10 but were most impressed with party food and drinks. We cooked all kinds of food and we cooked often, but some of our more notable dishes were child appropriate imitations of adult favorites. Mock pink champagne?  We made it and drank it out of sherbet bowls. ( It was the closest thing to a champagne flute we could find.)  Mock chocolate mousse?  Horrible, but we ate it from china cups with demitasse spoons.  Fake pate' made from potatoes and some other vegetable I can't remember?  Made and served on top of the uber gourmet Nabisco saltines.  As I recall other than making us feel pseudo-sophisticated they were all failures. After that I pretty much stayed away from the fake stuff  until a few weeks ago when I began dabbling in alternate ingredients to create everyday foods.

I am not sure where I first saw switching chick peas for tuna in tuna salad, most likely some vegan site, but the recipe they used was nowhere near my traditional tuna experience.  I am sure someone somewhere would love a curry, diced red pepper, and smoked coconut flake type of "tuna" salad, but it did not appeal to me in the least.  Instead I tinkered with it for a more typical take on tuna and came up with this.

                                                                       Tunaless Salad

1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked and drained ( or 1 can well drained)
3-4 ribs of celery, diced
3 scallions, sliced
2 teaspoons brown grained mustard
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped pickles ( sweet or dill) optional
1 chopped hard boiled egg, optional

Serves 3-4

Make sure the chickpeas are well cooked.  You want them very soft but not mushy.  Drain them well and using a fork mash them until they are chunky.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix until blended but do not over mix or complete mush will happen.  This can be eaten immediately but is much better if it can hang around in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.  I tried it first as a sandwich and have to admit it really does not work eaten that way.  But on some lettuce or stuffed in a tomato it becomes a pretty tasty lunch.  I would say I like it better than tuna salad because it does not have the cat food smell, but I like it slightly less than chicken salad.

Though the egg is optional and I have tried it both with and without, the egg lends a certain body to the mix and richness to the flavor.  The celery provides a needed bit of crunch and the brown mustard and the lemon juice add the tartness. I am a pickle person and have tried it using both dills and sweet pickles.  I liked both of them and could only say let your personal taste guide you. The mayonnaise is what binds it together and if you are a mayonnaise hater, this is probably not the dish for you.

First black bean brownies then adzuki bean burgers now chick pea "tuna"!  I am developing a new appreciation for the lowly bean.  Who said you can't teach an old dog a new trick?

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