Meat Lite: Tuna-Chickpea Spread Recipe

Meat Lite

Mostly vegetarian dishes with just a touch of meaty accent.

Meat Lite: Tuna-Chickpea Spread Recipe

A well-stocked pantry can really bail you out of a meal time jam. This super easy but delicious spread is based on two items no Serious Eater should ever be without: imported canned tuna packed in olive oil and canned chickpeas. Mix in a few other kitchen staples, and in no time you have a healthy, versatile dip or filling that works as a party snack with flatbread, a satisfying sandwich filling, or a flavorful stuffing for jarred piquillo peppers.

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by the book coauthored by the two, Almost Meatless, due out in spring 2009.

  • Yield:serves 4 to 6


  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
  • 1 6-ounce can of tuna packed in olive oil, preferably imported from Spain or Italy
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 10 oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil (this will depend on how much oil was in your tuna can)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. 1.

    Combine the garlic, chickpeas, tuna with its oil, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and vinegar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 to 10 times, scraping the bowl down every few times, until you have a very coarse and chunky paste. (If you pulse it too much, it gets unappealingly mushy and pasty. Not what you want.)

  2. 2.

    Transfer the spread to a mixing bowl, stir in the parsley and give it a taste. Season with salt and pepper, stirring in just enough olive oil to bring it together.

  3. 3.

    Serve the spread with flatbread, scoop it onto a sandwich, or stuff it into whole jarred piquillo peppers for an impressive but easy appetizer.