I've tried the rest. This is the best. A couple years ago, I tried the Good Catch vegan tuna and although tasty and convenient, one certainly pays for that convenience. After that, I started making the time-tested garbanzo bean avatar for tuna salad. It's good. Very good, in fact, but lacked the familiar qualities of the tuna salad I grew up with. What every mom and old-school corner diner served. A sorta, kinda paté of tuna, celery and onion that plays well between two slices of bread, rather than a big chunky salad.
That's were Jackfruit came in. I've been using green Jackfruit for a long time as the basis of BBQ pulled 'pork' or 'chicken'. It's awesome, easy and much lighter on the wallet than the packaged versions in the plant-based section of the grocery store. Again, those brands such as Uptons Naturals are very good, but get a little pricey in return for the convenience. They have their place, depending on your need for a really quick meal.
If you're new to Jackfruit, understand that there are two 'kinds' - 'green' or 'young' and 'ripe'. The green Jackfruit is the, well, unripened version, found in a can. The ripe - sweet - version is generally found in bags in the freezer sections of many major grocery retailers. I've never seen the green Jackfruit in grocery stores in my area, so I buy it at a local, family-owned Asian market (168 Asian Market on South Virginia and Grove St., for those of you here in Reno, Nevada).
Using the canned, young/green version couldn't be simpler: Open can, drain, rinse off the residual packing liquid, drain. Then, you need to 'shred' it with your fingers and/or a fork, and cut-up the small, thicker parts with a paring knife. For every dish that I use the green Jackfruit for, I give it a quick, no-oil sauté in a non-stick skillet. This removes any remaining moisture, adds color, and intensifies the 'meaty' flavor and texture.
The sauté process shouldn't take more than a few minutes over medium-high heat. And, this is where I'll add seasonings - in the case of 'tuna', I add Old Bay seasoning, some celery seed (whole or ground) and Sea Kelp granules. The Old Bay is my 'go to' for so many of the standards that I keep it in my four compartment salt/seasoning cellar by the cooktop. The Sea Kelp granules add both a hint of the 'ocean' plus necessary Iodine - since I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for cooking and it isn't iodized. We need a small amount of iodine in our diets. It's not optional.
I actually enjoy prepping vegetables. I've taken the effort to acquire some decent knife skills over the years, and using them makes the process both fun and satisfying. And, lovely produce like this celery is so nice to have.
Speaking of celery, don't toss all these leaves! That's 'gold'. Chopping up these delicate, flavorful leaves will really add punch to the resulting 'tuna' salad.
In addition to celery, you're going to need red onion and I like to add some drained pickle relish. You could also simply chop up some pickles. Bread and Butter. Dill. The choice is yours.
Let's recap: You've sautéed the green Jackfruit and prepped the celery, onion and pickle relish. All that remains is mayonnaise - and we're going to use a homemade vegan, no added oil version of that.
Vegan, no added oil mayonnaise should be part of your plant-based, whole food arsenal. Make up a batch of it - I love the benefits of batch cooking! - and you'll have a dandy base for, yes, mayo, but also creamy salad dressings and even quick sauces for pasta or vegetables!
It all begins with soaked raw cashews and the liquid drained from a can of garbanzo beans - the Aquafaba. In a high-speed blender, it becomes this creamy, thick plant-based mayonnaise. The how-to on the mayo can be found in this post.
Next, pull the food processor out of the cupboard. Put the rinsed, drained garbanzos in there, the sautéed green Jackfruit, some of your mayo, more of the sea kelp granules and pulse it several times.
Don't over-process the mixture. You want to see some small 'chunks', but it should be like a paté that will press nicely between two slices of whole-grain bread.
Once you've got it processed, taste and adjust the seasonings. I tossed in more Old Bay seasoning, freshly ground pepper and even more kelp granules. Oh, and a bit of fresh lemon juice for 'brightness'.
Now, you can remove it to a bowl and mix in the chopped celery, red onion and pickle relish. Oh, if you happen to like Capers, they would be great in this.
Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!
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