We all have foods that take us back to specific moments in our childhood.
I have very specific memories of Jos Louis (a treat I only had at a friend's house), orange pop (camping!), Viva Puffs (wrapped in waxed paper and tucked into a lunchbox), and taramisolada (a fish roe tapenade usually served with bread at fancy seafood restaurants, which was a huge favorite on special occasions... I was a pretty adventurous eater as a kid). Perhaps more than anything else is my mom's tuna macaroni salad on school field trips, which I can remember her preparing painstakingly the night before.
Oh man. That tuna macaroni salad was the best. It's so odd: I have specific memories of eating it at the Ontario Science Center, at the Vivian Forest Outdoor Education Center, at the Toronto Public Library, at Ryerson University on a theatre trip in elementary school... so many trips, so much macaroni!
While the ingredients in Momma's preparation aren't on my food radar these days (wheat macaroni, tuna, mayo), the flavor is definitely something I find myself craving, so I decided to try to recreate it with different ingredients.
Instead of pasta and tuna: chickpeas.
Instead of mayo: tahini and djion.
While this lacks the fishiness of tuna, you could add a few sprinkles of dulse (dried seaweed) to give it that distinctly ocean-y taste. Without it, I've chosen to call this more of a 'chicken'(ish) salad, but feel free to pretend it's whatever you want. It's super yummy.
I love to use this as a salad topper, or if I'm feeling particularly energy-starved, I'll wrap this in a brown rice tortilla.
It's quick to throw together and you can play with the veggie components as you like. You could add more peppers, reduce the carrots, add more onion, more garlic, etc. to taste: it's pretty flexible that way! I made this for my private chef services clients earlier this month and it went over terrifically! It's a total throwback to childhood comfort food, sans additives or processed ingredients. Your happy food brain AND your body win!
This mixture will keep in the fridge for several days. Happy cooking!
- 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup crushed walnuts or pumpkin seeds, optional (as garnish or mix in)
- 1. Blend half of your chickpeas and half of your onions, plus tahini, dijon, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth and hummus-like.
- 2. Transfer to a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly to combine.
- Add a little dulse to make this taste more like a tuna salad.
- Store leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.