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Spicy Tunuh-uh Pasta Salad (Jackfruit “Tuna” Chipotle Bowl)

A spicy vegan tuna pasta salad. I was under the influence when these ingredients came together in my bowl…

Under the influence of deliciousness! A spicy vegan tuna (tun-uh-uh) pasta salad? Am I ingenious or insane?

One stroke of inspiration, two fingers crossed, and three shaky forkfuls later, my mouth tumbled into Wonderland. A vegan… tuna… pasta salad? This dish unites Mexican cuisine with ‘Murican food, spicy with salty, sweet with umami, hot and cold, and vegans with omnivores.

It centers around one fish stand-in: jackfruit!

Our tun-uh-uh pasta salad is similar to succotash in that if you can’t find a positive thing to say about it or can’t bring yourself to try it, this will do: There sure is a lot of stuff going on in there!

What an accurate, neutral, and fitting first impression until you take the first bite and find yourself in the Gulf of Mexico at some fancy fusion restaurant.

Spicy Vegan Tuna Pasta Salad- No amount of garlic will keep this nightmare away!

Time: 20-30 minutes depending on how fast you get your butt in gear
Yield: 3 large servings or 6 side dishes

  • 1 14 oz. can jackfruit
  • 1 medium onion, any variety
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple (fresh, frozen, canned, 3D printed, conjured from a crystal ball, whatever.)
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 2 oz. (56g) legume pasta, such as black bean penne or chickpea rotini
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder, cumin, and tajin (mix and match, measure with your heart.)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup salsa, guacamole, or enchilada sauce (this is thy dressing.)
  • Optional protein: pinto beans, tempeh, or vegan chick’n nuggets
  • If you contract an urge for a pretty presentation: scallions, chili flakes, or a single tortilla chip casually posed against the side of the bowl are perfect toppings.
  1. Chop your fruits and veggies first; onion, celery, pineapple, and bell peppers. I know you’ll think “Oh, I can boil the water first and get everything else ready while it’s cooking.” NO. Do as I type.
  2. Once the produce has been mutilated on your cutting board, add them to the serving bowl. Shred the jackfruit in a food processor or pull it with a fork. You want it to look like brine-y strands of plant-based pork!
  3. NOW boil a medium pot of water and add the pasta of your choice. Mine looks like those suction ears on the side of Davy Jones’ head in Pirates of the Caribbean. 
  4. While the noodles cook, add a spicy sauce to the salad bowl. In the pictured atrocity, I went with several schlops of chipotle bean dip, but a sweet chunky salsa also works wonders.
  5. Throw the spices and nutritional yeast into the vegetables and violently stir. You might need more dressing, and that’s ok.
  6. Prepare protein, if using. In the photo below, I diced some pineapple chipotle chick-un tenders from the clearance aisle at the health food store.
  7. Strain noodles and rinse with cold water so your final dish isn’t lukewarm.
  8. Toss ALL ingredients (in case you missed anything) and add green onions, red pepper flakes, or the decapitated head of a pineapple.
No attractive camera angle exists for this entree. Trust me, it looks just as bad as regular tuna salad, but there are some darker colors among what would ordinarily be a mushy sea of mayo and beige specks.

How many versions of vegan tuna have you heard of? I’ve read recipes calling the substitutes “Tuno” “Tu-not” and even “The Big Jackuna.” But “tun-uh-uh” tickled me too much not to slide it into the title. Spread the word!

Best Dishes,

The Hippie Happy Foodist™

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The Hippie Happy Foodist