So simple, so yummy – Vegan “Tuna” Sandwich

%name So simple, so yummy   Vegan Tuna Sandwich photos: we heart this

We’ve got a fantastic, yet so simple sandwich this Green Monday for we heart this readers! As a vegetarian of over 15 years, one of the questions I am asked the most is “What do you eat for lunch?” Many people trying to go veggie or those just cutting back on meat have difficulty with lunch. Breakfast is easy and with a bit of research, a veggie main course for dinner can be planned with little effort.

It’s that middle meal that can be difficult, especially if you want to pack a lunch. For years, I went with two staples – salads and the occasional cheese sandwich. I seemed to have a mental freeze when trying to plan a yummy, easily prepared lunch. After some time, I gathered a few lunchtime basics that I’ll be sharing in upcoming posts. Today, I need to give a shout out to wht writer, Recessionista, some time ago she shared the ingenious idea of replacing canned tuna with garbanzo beans to create a vegetarian (or even vegan) tuna salad substitute.

This salad is a cinch and takes all of five, maybe up to ten minutes to make. Refrigerate the unused potion in an airtight container and use within a few days (though it’s never lasted longer then 24 hours in my house). I promise, this will soon become a lunchtime staple!

Best of all, you likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

%name So simple, so yummy   Vegan Tuna Sandwich

If you don’t have garbanzo beans on hand, grab a few cans the next time you are at the grocery store. Since so many dinner recipes start with celery and onion, you can use some to mix up a batch of Garbanzo Bean Salad as a side project, while fixing dinner. Presto – you’ve made your lunch for a day or two at the same time!

Garbanzo Bean Salad
• 1 can of garbanzo beans
• 2 stalks of celery, chopped
• 1/4 onion, chopped
• 2 or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise/Vegenaise
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1/4 teaspoon Salt
• 1/4 teaspoon Pepper

** Feel free to add garlic powder, sweet pickle relish, sun dried tomatoes, diced cucumbers, raisins, etc. Whatever items you like in your tuna salad, add into this veggie alternative.

— Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans.

%name So simple, so yummy   Vegan Tuna Sandwich

— Pour into bowl and smush beans until desired consistency. I use a potato masher (pictured) but a sturdy fork can do the job.

The great thing about these tasty little beans (besides the fact they are full of protein and fill you up) is that the soft outer shell separates from the mashed bean and forms a texture very similar to tuna fish.

— Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

–If possible chill for at least one hour, of if you can’t wait, no worries – start eating!

A quick note on the Vegenaise – before you turn your nose up at the thought, give it another try. They have worked on the taste since I tried it years ago and imo it’s a pretty great vegan alternative to mayo. It used to taste more like Miracle Whip spread (I’m not a big fan of the Whip) but they’ve softened that tangy taste. However, whatever you have in the fridge – fat free mayo, Miracle Whip, ranch dressing, and of course, even full fat mayo (lucky you) works here.

I love this simple salad on toasted wheat with fresh lettuce and tomato. It also travels well when spread generously on fluffy, fresh bread, wrapped carefully and carried to the office. Of course, I’ve devoured it on all types of crackers – what a fab midnight snack! Or top a bowl of fresh greens with a scoop of salad, lightly toss with Italian dressing and you get a very satisfying salad. Enjoy!

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Written by Tyna Werner


  1. Profile photo of kari

    A vegan friend of mine introduced me to this idea of substituting garbanzo beans for tuna and it’s now become one of my favorite sandwich fillings! And it’s crazy how similar it is to tuna fish!

    Also, I heart vegenaise! I’m not a fan of mayo/miracle whip but I find the vegenaise taste to be a lot milder.

  2. Profile photo of Amanda

    Yummm, that sounds delish! I’ll have to try replacing my daily hummus wrap with this!

    And that photo? Seriously? I just had breakfast but that image is making me hungry all over again! I LOVE food photography!

  3. Profile photo of irene

    YUMMY Tyna!! But why do you do this to me? It’s early Monday morning and now I’m starving for this and there’s nothing I can do but drool over this! I love chickpeas/garbanzo beans.. makes a mean dip for pita too! I’m a mayo lover.. so this with that in it will be insanely delish!

  4. Profile photo of Tyna Werner
    Tyna Werner

    Rachel – hooray – hope you have made this tasty sandwich and are enjoying it right now!

    Amanda – thanks for the props on the photo! The GB Sandwich was very difficult on the set – this was our third try! First, we had bad lighting and I overdid the Vegenaise, the second shoot we had no tomato and it was too bland. But on the third shoot – victory! My roomie Eric says he is going into the food styling business – he was happy because he got to eat every test subject!
    .-= Tyna Werner´s last blog ..Cooking 101 – Marinara Sauce =-.

  5. Profile photo of Tyna Werner
    Tyna Werner

    For the uninitiated – Vegenaise is an egg free/diary free/gluten free mayonnaise alternative – it is enjoying a surge in popularity because it’s great for those that are trying to lower their cholesterol. I’m not a vegan, but use this in place of mayo 99% of the time.

    Two more things:
    1) I just found out I’ve been pronouncing this wrong for years – it has a soft “G” like in vegetables. I’m been saying Vegan-Naise

    2) You will most likely find this in the refridgerated section of your grocery store (not with the regular mayos). If you have a cold natural foods section – start your search there!
    .-= Tyna Werner´s last blog ..The Myth of Disappearing Baby Weight =-.

  6. Profile photo of nouveaucheap

    Tyna, WOW, thank you so much for the shout-out! Your sandwich pic looks better than any version I have ever made, and it instantly made my stomach grumble. I need to make these again STAT!

    I’m thrilled that you’ve been enjoying this little treat, and I also would like to add that, in my humble opinion, Sun Vista garbanzos are THE best if you’re not going to heat your garbanzos (as in the case of this sandwich). I’ve tried a zillion other brands, and they are all hit or miss (have you ever experienced the weird, mealy/chalky/dry garbanzos? Ick!). For some reason, Sun Vista just knows exactly how to “caress” their garbanzos and they are consistently soft, buttery, and silky right out of the can every time. Just wanted to pass that along in case you’ve ever had a bad experience with another brand. :)

  7. Profile photo of Kellie

    Tyna, thank you soooo much!! My husband has been looking for a great spread to make for lunches that is high in protein and gets him away from lunch meat. We made this tonight for lunch tomorrow. It is so beyond yummy!!! And I don’t even like tuna fish. This stuff is awesome. And it is fast to make. I think that we are now hooked!

  8. Profile photo of christy

    Yum.. that looks so good! I’m no vegan but I do love chick peas.. and Vegenaise. A veggie friend of mine turned me on to it, and it’s super tasty.
    This looks so good, a great protein packed alternative to tuna! I’m getting all the fixins and making this later this week!

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