The Ultimate Mock “Tuna” Salad {Vegan}

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The Ultimate Mock “Tuna” Salad {Vegan}

When I think of tuna, I think of being a kid. Of schooltime lunches: cold sandwiches packed by my mom or hot open-face melts with cheese. Of the multitude of casseroles my mom used to make (so many casseroles!); I remember two in particular: a creamy one with peas and toast, and a crispy one topped with potato chips and brown sugar (they really did taste so much better than they sound). I think of summertime, picnics and parties, and cold tuna pasta salad. I love tuna, and for me, it’s just one of those foods that has a million memories attached to it.

Greenpeace emailed me last week to tell me about a recipe contest they launched, called Think Outside the Can, to raise awareness regarding the destructive and irresponsible tuna fishing practices that many major companies engage in.

From the contest website, “Canned tuna is an affordable source of protein that many families depend on. But if companies like Chicken of the Sea don’t change the way they’re fishing for tuna today, we will lose the ocean ecosystems they depend on, and scarcity will cause the price to skyrocket tomorrow. The industry’s push for unsustainable canned tuna has left many species on the brink of extinction. Overfishing runs rampant across the globe, and countless animals such as sharks, turtles, rays, and many kinds of juvenile fish are killed every year by the global tuna industry. Until the industry changes its ways, we have to look to sustainable tuna options, and tuna-free versions of our favorites.”

The Ultimate Mock “Tuna” Salad {Vegan} 2

Not only do I love tuna, but I love being able to help spread the word about such an important goal. I immediately knew I wanted to participate.

They’re looking for tuna-free alternatives to classic tuna recipes. I spent some time thinking about my favorite tuna dishes, but in the end I chose to make a vegetarian version of the simplest, most basic tuna recipe I can think of: tuna salad. It’s the most versatile tuna recipe (you can eat it on a sandwich, as a melt with cheese, on top of salad greens, tossed with cooked pasta, or as a spread for crackers), but what I love most about it is how unpretentious it is. It reminds me of my long-standing tuna-loving days dating back to my childhood.

Instead of tuna as the base of this salad, I used crumbed 5-grain tempeh. The 5-grain aspect of the tempeh caused some slight color variations (some of the grains were darker than others), which mimicked tuna’s natural look and gave the salad a very realistic tuna appearance. The salad really did taste like some kind of seafood salad, and it was family-friendly (read: a huge hit all around!). I know it will become a favorite tuna salad replacement in my house, and hopefully in your house as well.

The Ultimate Mock “Tuna” Salad {Vegan} 3

The Ultimate Mock “Tuna” Salad {Vegan}
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yield: Yields 1 cup, about 3 to 4 servings
  • 4 oz 5-grain tempeh (I used Soyboy), crumbled
  • 1 medium stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2 green onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon each onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (see Note)
  • 4-5 tablespoons light mayo (see Note)
  1. Stir together all ingredients except the mayo, then stir in enough mayo so it reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
  3. Refrigerate until serving. Enjoy this salad any way you’d eat tuna salad: in a sandwich, in a melt with cheese, on top of salad greens, tossed with cooked pasta, or as a spread for crackers.
To Keep This Salad Vegan: Be sure to use vegan mayo and Worcestershire sauce.

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  1. says

    Oh man that looks AMAZING! There’s a mock chicken salad at a local health food store that kind of reminds me of this – except they use TSP instead of tempeh, so much mre processed. I’ll have to try this version to break my dependency on their salad!

  2. says

    Being on a diet right now, I consume a good amount of canned tuna during the week. I had no idea about the irresponsible fishing of this species but then again it does not come as a surprise to me. Anywhere, man has put his hand on, he brings nothing but extinction because of his greed and lack of respect for nature! Your article and the vegetarian tuna salad does exactly what it is supposed to do; awake our consciousness! Beautiful presentation Faith!

  3. says

    Clearly the way these companies fish for tuna is not sustainable. But big business always comes first. I just don’t support these products but then again you know this about me.

    Your recipe is clever and inventive. Tempeh never looked or tasted so good.


  4. says

    Nice!! I didn’t know about this contest, but I just posted a mock tuna salad recipe last week-uncanny timing! lol (mine wasn’t original, I adapted it from Oh She Glows, so I couldn’t have used it anyway) Kudos for doing this for a worthy cause. So is this a contest where we can vote or is it totally up to the judges? I hope they pick you!

  5. says

    I haven’t had tuna for a LONG time, even well before becoming vegetarian but sometimes I do think about tuna salad…and miss it. This is perfect for when those days happen. And it’s eco-friendly too! Love it.

  6. says

    I’m slightly scared of tempeh, but this looks manageable! :-)

    I hated tuna when I was a kid…but now I love it. I’m always up for tuna-like foods!

  7. says

    I love it Faith :) you are always able to come up with such healthy and creative recipes ~ I’ve never thought there was anything such as mock tuna ~ YAY now i can share this with my vegetarian friends and will probably impress them :D

  8. Balto Pit Gal says

    Worcestershire sauce is NOT usually vegetarian as it is made with anchovies.

    Eating fish makes one NOT a vegetarian.

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