Tempeh “Tuna” Salad (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

GFGluten Free

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Hearty and protein-packed, this vegan tempeh “tuna” salad tastes surprisingly fishy, thanks to a secret ingredient!
Perfect for an on-the-go lunch.

I’ve posted a Chickpea “Chicken” Salad on the blog before, but today were’ tackling it’s fishy cousin. This tempeh “tuna” salad is packed with plant-based protein and all the classic tuna salad flavors. The best part? It all comes together in simple steps, and you only need 8 wholesome ingredients to make it.

tempeh tuna salad in lettuce boats with crackers and lemon wedge on the side

First, prepare the tempeh

tempeh and kombu on small white platetempeh and kombu simmering in pot of watertempeh and kombu marinating in glass jar

I chose to use tempeh (which is a protein source made of whole soy beans) in this recipe instead of chickpeas, which is a pretty common substitute. Mashed chickpeas are kind of mushy in texture, while tempeh has a firmer bite. It’s also higher in protein, and it holds up well to heat! Which is important, because first we’re going to simmer our tempeh in a seaweed-infused broth to (1) remove some of it’s bitterness, and (2) add in an extra layer of that fishy flavor.

The specific seaweed we’ll be using is Kombu, and it’s available both in grocery stores and online. Simply add the crumbled tempeh and kombu to a pot of water, and let it simmer away for 30 minutes. I like to marinate the tempeh and kombu in the simmering water overnight to really maximize the flavor infusion.

Then, mix the marinated tempeh with the remaining salad ingredients

ingredients for tuna salad in small bowls on wood cutting boardlarge glass bowl of tuna salad

Drain your tempeh (don’t rinse), and then add it to a bowl with some Vegan Mayo, mustard, lemon juice, parsley, and crunchy veggies. There’s just one more special ingredient to this recipe – Dulse flakes or granules! Again, adding this finely-chopped seaweed into your tempeh “tuna” salad will give it that realistic seafood taste we’re really aiming for.

You can serve this vegan tuna salad immediately, but I like to let it sit for at least 30 minutes, to allow all of the flavors to combine. Then, serve as desired!

serving suggestions for tempeh tuna salad on round wood cutting board

Ways to serve this Tempeh “Tuna” Salad:

  • With crackers
  • In a sandwich or wrap, or open-faced on toast
  • Served in crunchy lettuce boats

Or simply by the spoonful! This “tuna” salad makes for a quick, easy, and protein-packed lunch, but it’s just as great as an afternoon snack or light dinner too. It’s also school-friendly, making it great for your little on’s lunchbox 🙂

If you’re looking for more easy vegan lunch recipes, you’ll also love these Chickpea Salad Sandwiches, these Rainbow Veggie Sandwiches, and this Best Ever Vegan Egg Salad!

Hearty and protein-packed, this vegan tempeh "tuna" salad tastes surprisingly fishy, thanks to a secret ingredient! Perfect for an on-the-go lunch or quick dinner. #tunasalad #vegantunasalad #tempeh #veganlunch #vegantuna | frommybowl.com

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

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Tempeh “Tuna” Salad

tempeh tuna salad in small white bowl on wood serving board

Hearty and protein-packed, this vegan tempeh “tuna” salad tastes surprisingly fishy, thanks to a secret ingredient! Perfect for an on-the-go lunch or quick dinner.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 Minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 8 ounce block of tempeh
  • 2 pieces kombu seaweed
  • ⅓ cup Easy Vegan Mayo
  • Juice of ½ lemon 
  • 1 tablespoon dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • ½ rib of celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion or shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly parsley, minced
  • ½  – 1 teaspoon dulse flakes/granules (optional, but recommended)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Tempeh: use your hands to crumble the tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces over a medium pot. Break the kombu pieces in half, then add them to the pot with 3½ cups of filtered water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer the entire mixture to a glass jar and store in the fridge for at least four hours, preferrably overnight. 
  2. Mix the Salad: add the Vegan Mayo, lemon juice, and mustard to a bowl and mix well. Drain the marinating tempeh, then add it to the bowl along with the celery, onion, parsley, and dulse flakes. Mix until evenly incorporated, then add salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. Serve as desired; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to five days.

Notes

  • Seaweed: both kombu and dulse flakes can be found in some grocery stores; if not, you can purchase them online. I highly recommend using both types of seaweed in order to get the “fishy” taste of a classic tuna salad
  • Veggies: feel free to increase or add in some extra finely chopped veggies to this salad if you’re looking to make it a little heartier; grated carrot would be great here!

Keywords: vegan tuna salad, tempeh salad, tempeh recipes, vegan tempeh recipes, healthy tuna salad, plant based tuna

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. I don’t really like fish but I thought I could turn this recipe into a no-chicken salad, if I use no-chicken broth instead of the kombu seaweed. Do you think it could work? Thank you so much!

  2. This was really good. The Kombu simmer is a must! Who’d thunk we could do that with tempeh?

  3. Y’all, I am SHOOK. I am not vegan, I’m not even a firm vegetarian, I am simply trying to make more plant-based choices every day and thought this recipe sounded so unique that I had to try it. My partner LOVES tuna salad so I mostly wanted to try to make this for him – he’s been quite supportive of the plant-based changes, but he is also very wary of vegan “substitution” efforts like this, so I actually kept it secret as I worked on it so that he wouldn’t form any premature opinions, lol. And I got the best validation ever – he LOVES it! And of course, it helps that I love it, too! The only thing I added was miso, which I think is super important for getting more of that natural sea-saltiness flavor in there. I even made the cashew mayo to go with it – I’m still not totally sold on the mayo alone (it could just be my blender, as it was just a bit too grainy), but it went incredibly well with this recipe, so no worries there. I served this on toasted whole grain bread & romaine lettuce with celery, shallot, parsley, and halved cherry tomatoes. I think I’ll mix in some walnuts for tomorrow’s lunch. Super impressed!!

  4. Ah, what a phenomenal idea! Tempeh instead of tuna, why not? I typically see chickpeas in a recipe, but it is so nice to see tempeh for a bit of a change. Have you ever tried that canned tuna substitute from Thrive Market? I heard it’s quite salty so it’s likely best to use something more subtle in this recipe!

    1. Totally, why not tempeh (it’s so good..)! Haven’t tried that, but if you do it for this recipe let us know how you like it!

  5. This is brilliant! I’m obsessed with tempeh at the moment so this will be an awesome way to switch things up!