No-Tuna Chickpeas and Shells

If your freezer is now stocked with bags of freshly-made chickpeas after my tutorial a few weeks ago, I can’t think of anything better to do with them than make this super-simple chickpea tuna salad, which is great on sandwiches or salads, but also makes some amazing no-tuna & shells.

In all honesty, I remember tuna and shells tasting super gross when I was a kid. Mayonnaise and canned fish mashed into pasta? No thank you. This chickpea version is so much better. The whole salad can be made in about 15 minutes and you’ll be shocked at how good these flavors are. The meaty chickpeas and a little creaminess from tahini, some tanginess from lemon and ACV, and some classic tuna-salad flavors of celery and red onion. It’s one of my favorite new things and this recipe makes a big batch so you can eat it nonstop for the next few days 😋.

Makes 6+ servings


  • 1 package (16 oz) pasta shells
  • 1.5 cans chickpeas (or fresh equivalent)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • Chopped kale, optional
  • 1 cup peas, optional

Step One

In your food processor, add one can of chickpeas (or fresh equivalent) with 1/4 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse this all together until totally smooth.

Step Two

Loosely chop 2 ribs of celery and about 1/4 cup of red onion and add this into the food processor with about another 1/2 can of chickpeas. Then, just pulse these a few times until broken up into the smooth mixture, but stop before they become fully pureed (the idea is to create a slightly chunky texture). You may also need to add some water at this point – you don’t want it to be runny, but I added 2-3 tablespoons because it was too thick. In the end, you should have something like this:

Step Three

Transfer this mixture to a bowl and give it a taste. Feel free to stir in salt and pepper to boost the flavors, or add more apple cider vinegar to add more tang and mayonnaise-like taste. You can add this stuff onto sandwiches or toss it into some spinach for a salad. But if you’re making the shells, read on…

Step Four

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain the water, and add the chickpea tuna into the shells. I like to do this while it’s hot because the mixture will soften and be easier to stir evenly onto the shells. You can also add some finely-chopped kale at this point (like shown) or some peas or really any thing else that you think would be exciting. Finally, transfer the shells to the fridge to chill – these shells are much better chilled.

Note: These shells will store well (refrigerated) for several days in a sealed container, but they will tend to become dry. If that happens, simply add a drizzle of water and toss with a spoon to achieve a more fluid texture.


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  1. Hi Andrew,

    This looks amazing! I am wondering if there is anything I can substitute for tahini? I don’t have any, and it is difficult to get where I live! Thanks in advance and many thanks for the great recipes! I make your sweet potato and lentil shepherds pie regularly as well as your cashew cheese! Love them!!

    Laura 🙂

    • Hmm, you could probably use cashew cream by blending raw cashews with a little water until it’s the consistency of tahini.

  2. Yum yum yummy! Made this tonight for the fam, the kids loved it and didn’t miss the tuna one bit!
    I had no tahini so omitted it but added in a little mustard as my old tuna mornay recipe called for.
    I also diced the onion and celery very small and fried off in olive oil til it was a bit past golden and added 1/4 teasp. of dried garlic powder.
    Another fantastic idea Andrew! Can’t wait to try the original recipe when I get some tahini

    • Very cool! I’m happy to hear that your remix worked well – it’s always cool to see other cooks put their own spin on things, that’s what it’s all about 🙂

  3. I really loved this! I love the simple ingredients and that tangy taste that I kind of miss from my tuna days. Thank you!

  4. Hi Andrew,

    This was a perfect weekday dinner after doing some running. We (2people) ate the 4 portions without much conversation since we where so hungry and it was so satisfying.
    Instead of kale I steamed some asparagus (it is in season over here).

  5. Wow! This is better than the tuna version! I made it for our vegan guest today and it knocked our socks off, so good. I followed the “tuna” to the letter of what you described and it is nothing short of perfection. Thanks

    • Ooh, I’m glad to hear that Hens! And thanks for reminding me, I had forgotten about this recipe and now I want to make it again, haha!

      I hope the music production is going well – I haven’t been producing as much as I would like lately.

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