This Vegan Tuna Melt is made with chickpeas and combined with tahini, dijon mustard, celery, onion, garlic, dill, salt, lemon juice, topped with a slice of vegan cheddar cheese and a layer of vegan mayonnaise then grilled between two slices of gluten-free bread for the best gluten-free tuna melt sandwich great any night of the week!
When I did eat tuna fish, my favorite ways to enjoy it was a classic tuna salad sandwich and a tuna melt. Once I decided to go vegan I was able to find a pretty decent tuna salad replacement that tasted good enough and that my kids also love, using chickpeas as the base. It wasn’t until recently that I used that tuna salad to make a tuna melt and oh my gosh is it good! I like it even better as a tuna melt than simply a cold tuna salad sandwich. The kids (and hubby) scarfed it down- saying “mmm!” even, so you know it’s a good recipe, haha 😉
How to Make the Tuna Salad
The tuna salad is super easy to make. Simply drain two cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and place them into a food processor/blender. Add the tahini, dijon mustard, dill., garlic, salt, and lemon juice and pulse to combine.
The right texture. You don’t want the chickpeas to be completely blended, that’s why I say pulse the mixture. You don’t want to make hummus, so you still want the mixture to be a little chunky.
Once the tuna salad base is combined, spoon it into a medium bowl and add the finely diced onion and celery. Gently stir to combine.
Putting the Tuna Melt Sandwiches Together
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Butter the outsides of your gluten-free bread slices with dairy-free butter or vegan mayonnaise and then place once slice of bread, butter side down, in the skillet. Spread some of the tuna salad over top of the bread in the skillet and then top with a slice or two of vegan cheddar cheese. Cover the skillet with a lid so that the cheese melts. Spread some vegan mayonnaise on the unbuttered side of the other slice of bread. Once the cheese is melted, add thinly-sliced tomato on top of the cheese and top with the other slice of bread, mayo side touching the tomatoes. Grill each sandwich until the outsides of the bread are crispy, flipping as the bottom slice turns golden. Repeat for all sandwiches.
To save on time, prepare all of the bread slices with butter and spread the tuna salad over top of multiple slices to cook them all at the same time, if you have a big enough skillet.
Serve with french fries, pickles, and/or chips!
How to Store Leftover Tuna Salad
You’ll likely have leftover tuna salad, which is great for lunch another day as just a tuna salad sandwich, on top of toast, or tuna melts later on in the week. Keep the tuna salad stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Tip. I love the crunchiness from the onion and celery, so if it’s not crunchy enough to your liking after a couple of days you can always add more.
Some Reasons Why I Decided to Ditch the Tuna
Other than personal preference, canned tuna kind of grossing me out, there are some other reasons to eat less seafood. While eating fish has some nutritional benefits, it also has potential risks. Fish can take in harmful chemicals from the water and the food they eat, such as mercury and PCBs. As the water becomes more polluted it’s not uncommon for these chemicals to build up in their bodies over time. When we consume high levels of mercury and PCBs, it can harm the brain and nervous system, and potentially cause cancer.
If you’re consuming fish as a primary source of omega-3 fatty acid, try taking a supplement that includes omega-3 (that includes ALA, EPA, DHA and including these plant foods that are high in omega-3’s:
- chia seeds
- brussels sprouts
- hemp seeds
- algae oil
- Gluten-free bread of choice
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Vegan sliced cheddar cheese
Vegan Tuna Salad
- 3/4 cup yellow onion, thinly diced
- 3/4 cup celery, thinly diced
- 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans, drained)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Make the tuna salad first. Start by thinly dicing the onion and celery. Place in a bowl and set aside. Slice the tomato thin.
- Add the drained chickpeas, garlic, tahini, dijon, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper to a food processor (or blender if you don't have one). Pulse the ingredients until they are well combined and the chickpeas are broken down but not blended smooth. You don't want to make hummus! Alternatively you can mash everything together in a bowl really well with a fork.
- Spoon the tuna salad mixture into a bowl and add the onion and celery. Stir to combine, until all of the onion and celery is incorporated.
- Heat a large skillet over low heat. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on one side of the bread slices. Place one slice, mayo side down, in the skillet. Spread the tuna salad over the slice then top with 1-2 slices of vegan cheddar cheese. Cover the skillet with the lid and let the cheese melt.
- Meanwhile, you can spread the mayo on the other bread slices. When the cheese is melted, add sliced tomatoes on top of the cheese and then spread a layer of vegan mayo on the top bread slice on both sides. Place the slice on top of the tomato and then flip the sandwich and grill until golden.
- Repeat for all of the sandwiches. If you have a large enough skillet you should be able to make 2/3 sandwiches at a time. Serve with chips, french fries, and/or pickles!
* If you prefer to grill the sandwiches using vegan butter that works too.
** Store any leftover tuna salad covered in the fridge and enjoy throughout the week! It's delicious cold too 🙂