This easy salad requires little more than pantry ingredients.

I have a little game I play with myself called “How Long Can I Wait Before I Go to the Supermarket?” Sure, I pop into the little local health food store every few days and hit the farmers’ market once a week. But the sprawling grocery store? I try to go as little as possible, which unfortunately, is still way too often.

You see, when I lived in New York City, there weren’t many massive suburban-style supermarkets. A year after leaving the city, I’m still adjusting to the doublewide aisles and the overwhelming selection of junk food.

Earlier this week, I scanned my crisper drawers, empty except for apples reserved for my daughter’s lunches and a few leftover stalks of celery. (Why, oh why, is there always left over celery?)

Since I had used up the last of the bread that morning, I thought, this is it. I’ll be heading to the Giant before dinner. But first, I did a quick inventory of the cabinets and found a lazy cook’s treasure: A can of chickpeas and a can of tuna.

Heidi Swanson once wrote a post about being nice to your future self and this was an example of my past self helping me out. She knew this moment would soon come.

At lunch time, I quickly popped open the chickpeas and tuna and drained them, then transferred to a mixing bowl. I added three stalks of sliced celery and (another score!) five sliced radishes. I tossed that together with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil along with generous pinches of salt and pepper. I also added a little caraway seed in honor of Heidi, because it felt like something she might do.

Finally, I tore a few salvageable leaves off an otherwise rotting bunch of cilantro.

If I had had a shallot or a scallion lying about, I would have diced it and tossed it in, too. Oh well. Who knew I’d ever be so grateful for leftover celery?

Chickpea-Tuna-Celery Salad
Prep time
Total time
This protein-rich salad is great for make ahead lunches or casual office potlucks because it holds up in the refrigerator for a day after it's made. The dish is also the perfect excuse to use up some of that orange-flavored olive oil, grape leaf pesto, or other curious condiment you might have received once in a gift basket or bought on a whim. Take this combo and make it yours.
Recipe type: Easy
Serves: 2 to 3
  • 1 small shallot (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • One 25-ounce can of chickpeas
  • One 5-ounce can of tuna
  • 3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 5 red radishes, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of caraway seeds (optional)
  • Torn cilantro or parsley leaves (optional)
  1. If you're using a shallot, combine it with the lemon juice and let stand 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tuna, celery, radishes, and olive oil and toss. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the caraway and herbs, if using. Serve.


With romaine hearts, cucumber, jicama and pumpkin seeds, this crisp green salad is insanely refreshing.I have a confession to make: I went all the way to Mexico and fell in love with a pretty basic green salad. Sure, I ate tacos (twice a day), some fantastic grilled chicken and some pretty incredible ceviche. But it’s a salad, at a hotel restaurant, no less, that I can’t stop thinking about.

You see, my trip was to Tulum, which, in the last 10 years has gone from being a backwoods, electricity-at-night-only kind of beach spot to one where half of the people on my Instagram feed go when New York temperatures start demanding boots instead of clogs. These days, Tulum is more bobo than boho, with a relaxed haute hippie vibe (don’t be surprised if you awake to seeing people shooting yoga videos on the beaches and rocks) and, of course, hotels with WIFI signals. (How else could people upload those photos, leaving everyone in Brooklyn drooling?)

Because of restaurants like Hartwood, Gitano and Posada Margherita, Tulum has also become a bit of a food destination. I didn’t go for the food, however. I went for a wedding and a pretty incredible one at that. It was my first real vacation since my daughter was born three years ago and my first long vacation without her.

I’m ashamed to say that, on this trip, I neither visited the famous Mayan ruins nor did I do much obsessive chow hounding. The wedding kept us pretty busy (if you call drinking margaritas in designated spots busy, that is), and in my down time, I was happy to just float in the Caribbean or swing in a hammock with a used copy of Blood, Bones and Butter.

I did, of course, get hungry at times. Unless I was eating a meal hosted by the bride and groom, I often went to the restaurant at my hotel, El Pez. The food there was quite tasty if not groundbreaking, with plenty of good fresh ingredients, including eggs with yolks the color of sunflower petals. On the first night, my friend and I ordered a seafood platter, which included a whole fish covered with octopus, clams and shrimp, all grilled and well-seasoned. Nothing wrong with that! With it came a salad, the salad. A tumble of romaine hearts, pea shoots, large chunks of diced jicama and cucumber and a bracing lime dressing, this salad was so refreshing; hydrating even. I couldn’t stop eating it and remarking, “This salad!” which earned me a few funny looks.

I later had a more substantial version of the salad, this one made with caramelized onion and avocado. There might have been pumpkin seeds as well or I might have imagined them. No matter. I think that the secret to this salad was generous use of lime juice and salt along with a lot of crisp vegetables. I loved the way the cucumber and jicama were cut into large pieces (about 1-inch chunks), giving you delicious contrast between their well-seasoned outsides and plain, juicy interiors. My market sells jicama pre-diced, so you’ll see that the pieces in my photo are a bit smaller.

Ok, enough salad analysis. Here’s the recipe! (Plus, bonus photos from a wedding that looked like it was straight out of a Pinterest board.) continue reading