If you love pasta and vegan tuna, you will fall in love with this vegan tuna pasta salad. Made with chickpeas and hearts of palm, this vegan tuna pasta salad recipe is the perfect lunch or dinner on a hot summer night.
When my husband joined me on this plant-based journey, he asked me to recreate his favorite recipes but healthy and vegan. So, today he was craving tuna pasta salad. Since he loves my chickpea tuna salad and vegan lobster roll, I created vegan tuna pasta salad combining his two favorites and adding whole-grain noodles. He loved this vegan tuna pasta salad recipe so much that he wants to take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Often, people ask why vegans cook vegan foods that taste like meals we used to eat before transitioning to a plant-based diet. This is how I convinced my family to start eating healthier while saving animals and enjoying the foods they always love.
Vegan tuna pasta salad doesn't taste like tuna! Instead, it tastes like hearts of palm, chickpeas, and vibrant vegetables with a vegan tangy and savory dressing.
So, if you loved tuna pasta salad before, you will adore this tasty vegan tuna pasta salad recipe.
- Hearts of Palm: Hearts of palm have a very mild flavor, similar to white asparagus or artichoke hearts. Their texture is solid, crunchy, delicate, and easy to bite.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas have a buttery texture and a slightly nutty taste. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber: they offer almost 15g of protein and 13g of fiber in just one cup. They are also a good source of various vitamins and minerals.
- Green Onions: As green onions are immature parts of a white onion, they have a flavor similar to onions but far milder. The milder onion taste makes it a perfect addition to many salads as it will not be as overpowering as a white onion.
- Green Peas: I like to use fresh peas from Trader Joe's. They don't need to be cooked; they are sweet and perfectly raw.
- Celery: Celery has a mild and robust taste while giving it a bold flavor.
- Grape Tomatoes: Grape tomatoes have thicker skins when compared to other typed of tomatoes. They also have fewer seeds, which makes them perfect for salads. I like to buy the multiple-colored ones to add color to the vegan tuna pasta salad recipe.
- Baby Bell Peppers: Baby bell peppers are sweeter than larger bell peppers; they also come in a variety of colors, which adds color to the salad.
- Whole-Grain Elbow Macaroni: I like large whole-grain elbow macaroni, so it looks just like the tuna pasta salad we used to eat as kids. There is something fun about eating elbow macaroni.
- Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard adds a little tanginess and depth to the dressing.
- Cashew Mayo: I make my own cashew mayo, and there is a nut-free option in the recipe using sunflower seeds, silken tofu, or white beans.
- Parsley: Parsley adds an earthy, green freshness to the salad.
- Fresh Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice gives the salad a bit of citrus freshness, enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Seaweed: Seaweed is the best dietary source of iodine, which helps support your thyroid gland. It also contains other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, B vitamins, zinc, and iron, along with antioxidants that help protect your cells from damage.
- Black Salt: Black salt, also known as Kala namak or Himalayan black salt, is found in India. It has a savory, umami taste and is often used in egg-free dishes to give them flavor reminiscent of eggs. However, when combined with seaweed, it enhances the seaweed flavor.
- Often, people replace the hearts of palm with artichokes or cooked asparagus. If you choose artichoke hearts, I suggest using the ones packed in water or brine. To get the right texture for asparagus, I also use canned asparagus for the correct consistency.
- Choose white beans or lima beans instead of chickpeas when chickpeas aren't available.
- Red onion or chopped shallots are great substitutes for green onions, but they have a more robust onion flavor.
- Try frozen or canned green peas when fresh ones aren't available. However, frozen peas should be cooked according to the package instructions and cooled before adding to the vegan tuna pasta salad.
- Red bell pepper is the closest to baby bell peppers in sweetness.
- Gluten-free noodles, or any whole-grain noodles, shape, and size, work well with this recipe.
- Stone-ground mustard is the closest to Dijon mustard in a pinch.
- There are vegan mayo options if you don't want to make your own vegan mayo.
- Many people choose dill instead of parsley, but Paul's mom used parsley, so I tried to recreate his mom's recipe.
- Use bottled lemon juice when fresh isn't available.
- Dulse flakes or sea kelp replace seaweed in recipes.
- Skip the black salt if you don't like it. Instead, add salt and pepper to taste.
How to Make the Salad
Begin by placing the chickpeas and hearts of palm in a large food processor bowl equipped with a large chopping blade.
Pulse; do not blend or over-chop. Instead, the goal is to chop roughly, resulting in a chunky mixture.
Next, add the hearts of palm, chickpeas, celery, green onions, peas, baby bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and seasonings to a large bowl.
In the meantime, cook the macaroni.
Then, add the mustard, lemon, and only half of the cashew mayo to make the mock tuna for the vegan tuna pasta salad. And stir to combine. Set aside.
Transfer the cooked noodles to a colander and drain the noodles. Rinse the noodles in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Make sure to move the noodles around in the colander and run cold water through all the noodles to cool them before adding them to the vegan tuna salad.
Now, add the cool noodles, remaining cashew mayo, and parsley. Stir to combine.
Then, add salt and pepper to taste and additional parsley for color.
Currently, many vegan tuna meat substitutes are made from soy protein, but it tastes just like tuna. However, I prefer using whole foods like chickpeas and hearts of palm.
"Tuno" is being sold as "vegetarian fishless tuna," which tastes similar to regular tinned tuna but is made with water, soy flour, yeast extract, maltodextrin, and salt, instead of fish.
If you like spicy, consider adding a little Sriracha, red chili flakes, or sweet chili sauce. It adds a little heat if you like it, a little spicy.
- If you don't have a food processor, mash the chickpeas with a hand masher or a fork.
- For the hearts of palm, however, I suggest using two forks and shredding them in a pulling motion.
- To expedite meal preparation, use a vegetable chopper.
- Add any chopped vegetables you enjoy.
- I suggest only adding half the cashew mayo when making the vegan tun and using the remaining mayo when assembling the salad.
- For the best results, refrigerate the salad for about an hour before servings, so the flavors enhance, and the recipe is cold.
- The vegan tunas salad will last 5 days refrigerated.
Before the end of summer, try vegan tuna pasta salad loaded with veggies. In under 20 minutes, prepare lunch for the week, or a quick weeknight dinner.
Other Great Vegan Salads
If you love vegan tuna pasta salad, give us a 5-star-rating and comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Vegan Tuna Pasta Salad
- 1 14.4 ounce jar of hearts of palm in water or brine, drained
- 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
- 8 ounces dry whole grain elbow macaroni noodles (4 cups cooked) or choose any size or type of noodle, including gluten-free noodles for a gluten-free option
- ½ cup green onions, chopped
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- 6 baby bell peppers, diced, or 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup green peas (fresh, canned or frozen) cooke frozen peas first and allow to cool
- ½ cup sliced grape tomatoes
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- 1 cup cashew mayo, divided reserve ½ cup
- 2 Tablespoons chopped seaweed, dulse or sea kelp granuals
- 2 teaspoons black salt
- 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Drainand rinse the hearts pf palm and chickpeas.
- Place hearts of palm and chickpeas in a large food processor bowl with a large chopping blade.
- Pulse ingredients, resulting in a chuncky texture.
- Transfer hearts of plam/chickpea mixture to a large bowl.
- In the meantime, cook the elbow macaroni follwing the package instructions
- While the noodles cook, add all the igredients except ½ cup of the cashew mayo and parlsey.
- Stir together.
- Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water until all teh noodles are cool.
- Add the noodles to the vegan tuna mixture and gently fold the vegan tuna into the cold noodles.
- Add the remaining ½ cup of cashew mayo and parsley, Stir gently to combine.
- Add salt and pepepr to taste.
- Refrigerate for about an hour to chill through.
- Stir before serving and add additonal parsley if desired.
- As soon as the noodles are cooked, transfer them to a colander, and run cold water through the noodles to cool completely. Make sure you move the noodles around in the water to get the warm noodles underneath.
- Do not over pulse or blend the chickpeas and hearts of pal. If you don't have a food processor, use a fork to mash the chickpeas.
- For the hearts of palm, however, use two forks in a pulling motion to shred rather than mash the hearts of palm by hand.
- For a nut-free option for the mayo, choose the nut-free options to make the vegan mayo recipe.
- For a gluten-free, vegan tuna pasta salad recipe, choose gluten-free noodles.
- The vegan tuna pasta salad recipe stays fresh for 5 days refrigerated.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂