One of the first recipes I learned when I turned vegan was the popular chickpea tuna salad and it has been quite reliable whenever I want something delicious, filling, and healthy. Here I bump up the nutrient content by replacing some of the pickle relish with homemade sauerkraut.
The many benefits of sauerkraut
As one of the most common and oldest ways of preserving cabbage, dating back to 4 B.C., sauerkraut is one of the top fermented foods that has been well studied for its many health benefits.
- Sauerkraut is rich in Vitamin C. It was used to fight scurvy by no less than Captain Cook, to address this “plague of the sea” which killed a lot of seafarers during the 18th century.
- The lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut has been shown to help manage digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Daily intake of a small amount–a tablespoon–is enough to improve digestion and lessen constipation over time.
- It is known to have high levels of glucosinolates, ascorbigen, and ascorbic acid, which decrease DNA damage and cell mutation rate in cancer patients.
Sauerkraut, however, has high histamine content, which can contribute to allergy symptoms (though sauerkraut in and of itself is not an allergen). It’s important to consume fermented foods in general in moderation.
Tips for making the salad
The salad can be served on its own, or as finger food, whether on croutons, in sandwiches or lettuce cups.
Thanks to the chickpeas it can be a light but hearty lunch. While you can use canned chickpeas for this recipe, you can also use sprouted chickpeas given soaking and sprouting improve the nutrient bioavailability of beans. This recipe calls for ¾ to one cup of dried chickpeas soaked overnight and sprouted over two to three days.
Depending on the age of the sauerkraut, you may or may not need to add a bit sugar to balance the lactic sourness, unless you do not mind the extra acidity brought by the sauerkraut.
Set aside the sauerkraut juice after draining! It is also rich in lactic acid bacteria and you can take a spoonful of it daily as a probiotic shot. You can also use it in recipes as lemon or vinegar replacement, as backslop to kickstart your next batch of sauerkraut, or mixed into your martini.
- 1 to 2 Tbsp sauerkraut
- 1 to 2 tsp muscovado or coconut sugar
- 1 nori sheet
- 2 cups of chickpeas
- 1 red onion, minced
- 3 celery stalks, minced
- 3 Tbsp pickle relish
- ½ cup cashew mayo (or use store-bought vegan mayo)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
For the cashew mayo
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or 30 minutes in hot water
- ½ cup water
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- With a plastic colander set on a bowl, press the moisture out of the sauerkraut using a fork or spoon. (You can also use your clean hands.) Set aside the sauerkraut juice (see our tips for using it) and roughly chop the kraut. In a small bowl, mix the kraut with a teaspoon of sugar.
- Blitz the nori sheet into a powder using a blender or cut it into tiny pieces using clean kitchen shears.
- Make the cashew mayo: drain and rinse the cashews then tip into a blender with the water, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy. It’s best to use a high-speed blender, but if you’re using a standard blender, just be patient. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the blender and continue to blend until smooth. Do not be tempted to add more water.
- In a bowl, add the chickpeas and mash using a fork or a potato masher.
- Add the nori, minced onion and celery, pickle relish, sauerkraut, and cashew mayo. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly. Taste and add more sugar if your sauerkraut is mature and therefore more sour. Season according to preference. Like regular tuna salad, you can eat it as is or use as a spread in a bun.
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