In my view, the world can be divided up into 3 kinds of people: those who love tuna salad, those who hate it, and those who used to love it before going vegan. I am in that last category — the kind of tuna salad lover who enjoyed it hot, cold, in casseroles and all of the other gross-sounding yet nostalgic concoctions one could imagine. Tuna melts made me swoon with pleasure, while I could have eaten cold tuna salad over crackers, salad, bread — you name it!*
* Incidentally, I have a theory that there is a direct correlation between tuna lovers and mayo lovers, as I happened to love mayo as well (and still consider Vegenaise a staple in my diet). My dad, on the other hand, always found both of these food items gag-worthy — and I can say with all of the confidence in the world that the thing he misses the LEAST since going vegan is ever having to worry about someone trying to serve him tuna salad with mayo ever again.
Anyways, not only does the whole idea of tuna salad not comport in any way ethically with my diet now, but it’s pretty nasty when one thinks about the health implications of what I was eating. Mercury is the first, and obvious, health pitfall to come to mind. But even when one thinks about the canning process and amount of other toxins in fish in general, tuna was probably the least healthy choice when it came to creatures of the sea. Then there was the white bread it was usually served with, and the gobs of cheese if that tuna was made into a melt. Ick!
This refreshing salad-collard combo was designed to satisfy my nostalgia for tuna salads while not making me feel too full or giving me that “ick” factor that comes with eating fatty and unhealthy meals, however satisfying they may be in the moment. This one is satisfying, yet will allow you to go on with your day without needing a post-meal digestion nap (i.e. food coma). It is a great lunch idea, as these can easily be wrapped in cling wrap or foil or packed in tupperware, as they hold together nicely and do not risk getting soggy like bread or a normal wrap would. In fact, collard wraps of a various nature are my go-to lunch source (I also love collard hummus wraps with veggies).
While this chickpea salad is not exactly like tuna, that’s the point! It’s supposed to taste fresh and healthy, while still satisfying those lingering cravings for all you former tuna salad lovers out there who have either given up animal products, or those of you who are trying something much more healthy, low-carb or lighter in general. I love that collards are one of nature’s foods that are “accidentally” gluten-free. So often we’re spending time or money trying to make or buy gluten-free foods with all sorts of ingredients, while collards are so easy and simple. It’s easy to forget about them!
Note: for a more burrito-like wrap, add more filling and fold one side first, then fold the leafy end in, and roll. There’s really no wrong way to roll a collard. OK, maybe there is. But depending on the amount of filling I’m using, and the size and texture of my collards, I go between a more “flat” wrap, a burrito wrap, or more of an open-faced lettuce wrap type concoction. You can also add additions like as sprouts, spinach, avocado other other veggies of choice.
A few notes: I am not sure how many this would typically serve, as it probably depends on how much filling you use and what else you’re eating with these. Using large collards, the filling, divided among 4 wraps, makes wraps the size of the top picture. Also, I designed this recipe to be light on the salt content, as the dulse, scallion and aminos add a salty flavor without tons of sodium. However, if you wish to add more salt, adjust to taste. You can also easily add more dulse to taste, as I did in the last picture.
4 collard greens, thick stems on end removed
1 15-oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons reduced-fat Vegenaise (or soy-free Vegenaise to make this soy-free)
1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s
1 teaspoon dulse flakes (found in sea vegetable section of most health food stores)
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup pickle, drained and minced (I always use Bubbie’s brand, which is raw fermented)
sea salt to taste (optional)
1. Divide filling among 4 collard wraps and spread around the rib of the collard. Place 3 tomato slices over filling of each wrap.
2. Fold leaves of collard over the rib, and then fold over leafy end, leaving other end open. Place fold down on plate to serve.