When I attended Gregory Elementary School in West Orange, N.J., our infrequent art and cooking classes were always an exciting break from the classroom. They were held in a big activities room filled with long tables and lined on one wall with a kitchen. Once a month or so we trudged up there for “home economics,” which always involved preparation and tasting of a simple recipe.

An absolute favorite and one I always remembered was the tuna burger recipe we made in 4th grade. My mom made them at home for me several times over the next couple of years. While I was writing an article this week about vegan sandwiches, tuna burgers popped into my head.

So I pulled out my mom’s old Betty Crocker Cookbook, a loose leaf style book into which she had added her own favorite recipes. And sure enough, there in the luncheon section was the torn stained copy of Tuna Burgers, with my mom’s handwritten notation that it was from my 4th grade class.

It was fun to veganize and I was pretty pleased with the result. The recipe below calls for kelp granules which are essential to get that seafood flavor. Most natural foods grocery stores carry this product or you can order it directly from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables.

Here is vegan comfort food at its best:

Vegan Tuna Burgers

1 15-ounce can or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup cubed yellow vegan cheese (I used Vegan Gourmet Cheddar-style)
½ cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp kelp granules
5-6 whole wheat hamburger rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Process the chickpeas in a food processor until coarsely chopped. (Or if you don’t feel like getting the food processor dirty, you could do this by hand with a pastry blender). Be careful not to over-process; the chickpeas should not be pureed.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the burger rolls, of course) and mix by hand to blend. Spread the mixture on the bottom halves of the rolls and cover with the tops. Wrap each burger loosely in aluminum foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The inside should be hot and a little melty and the roll should be toasted.