I was never much of a meat eater before I became vegetarian. I didn’t really enjoy the taste of meat or fish or eggs for that matter. So I started cutting out meat in college after a rather horrific nightmare about cows. When I’d come home to visit, my papa would always ask the same question in his thick Hungarian accent, “Lisa, how ’bout some beef?” He never really understood how I could give it up so easily. But it felt natural to me.
As time went on I started cutting out more and more. First beef, then lamb, turkey, chicken. Pork was the long hold out but eventually it no longer appealed to me either. I’m sometimes asked if I ever crave meat and I can honestly say that I don’t. Except for one little thing.
Tuna salad sandwiches.
Maybe it’s because I have such fond memories of them. My papa made the best tuna salad! He would bring it home from his restaurant on Friday afternoons in a big tub. I remember eating spoonful straight from the container, which thinking back on it now seems sort of gross. But it symbolized the start of the weekend and the ease and freedom of our Friday night dinners.
As I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with vegetarian cuisine I’ve started experimenting with recreating my favorite meals. Today’s recipe is a spin on tuna salad sandwiches made with chickpeas and cashews. It takes a lot of liberties when compared to my father’s tuna salad but it’s still delicious in its own right.
Curried Chickpea Salad
Just a note on chickpeas and all other beans before we begin. I’ve started buying dried beans in bulk instead of in cans. They are SO much cheaper and you can control the amount you need. They also require little work.
Soak the beans in water for at least 3 hours and then rinse. Transfer to a pot and cover with water. Add salt, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat for 40 mins. Drain and they’re done.
If that just felt like a lot of work, canned beans work perfectly well here too 🙂
1 cup of chickpeas
1/4 cup soaked cashews. Place cashews in a bowl covered with water for 2 hours. I’m sure almonds or walnuts would work as well but I haven’t tried either personally.
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoons honey mustard (or whatever mustard you prefer)
Juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoon water
salt to taste
Chop veggies and zest lemon.
Using a food processor combine cashews, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 tbsp water and salt, pulse until smooth.
Add half a cup of chickpeas to the cashew mixture with second tbsp water and pulse again until smooth.
Remove cashew mixture from food processor. Add remaining chickpeas and pulse a few times. No need to go until smooth, leave much of the texture.
Add cashew mixture and chickpeas to bowl.
Add bell peppers, celery, curry powder and more salt if needed.
Serves 2 if you have to eat it on the tiny store-bought gluten-free bread. Here’s mine, with a side of Oprah of course.
You can also eat it more like a dip. I had it with tortilla chips yesterday for lunch.