Recipe At-A-Glance

Skip rolling your sushi, and instead have the same tastes and textures in this easy-to-make (and easy-to-eat) California Roll Amaranth Salad!


Ready in 1 hour, 20 minutes

Creativity is an interesting thing. It can be easy to assume that there is a limited amount of creativity that each person has (that’s why you hear lots of folks saying, “I’m not a creative person!”), but as someone who works everyday in multiple creative fields, I can tell you that isn’t true at all. Creativity isn’t goo in a bucket, and when you’ve used up that goo, your bucket is empty. Creativity is more like a muscle. The more you work it and use it, the stronger it gets. Sure, you can get burnt out—just like you can overtrain a muscle—but for the most part, the more creative work you do, the easier creative ideas come.

And the proof is in the practice. I absolutely get my most creative ideas when I’m working on other highly-creative and highly-intensive projects. Like now, I’m working on recipe development for my second cookbook. You’d think with cooking, writing and photographing 4-5 recipes a day, I’d be totally burnt out. But the opposite is true. The whole process has my creative juices flowing so much, that I actually struggle to keep up with the stream of ideas. In fact, I have a separate notebook I keep just to jot down ideas I come up with to explore later.

California Roll Amaranth Salad

So what does that have to do with this amaranth salad? Well, it’s a perfect example of this creative windfall that comes from working on my cookbook. There is a Mexican-inspired amaranth salad recipe in my new cookbook. And it’s amazing (really, super amazing). It has spicy peppers, fresh tomatoes, creamy avocado, a ton of cilantro and a really amazing lime dressing. Craig and I both absolutely flipped for it when we tried it the first time.

Such success with one amaranth salad got me thinking about other grain-based salads I could make, and as I was tossing those ideas around in my noggin, Craig said something that set the creativity on fire. He said, “You know what? This doesn’t have the taste of one, but it almost has the texture of a California Roll.” And he was totally right. I’m not a big sushi fan (another story for another time), but I’ve been able to get behind a California Roll or two, and this amaranth salad did have the same feeling as a California Roll. The amaranth was sticky and tender. The avocado creamy and smooth. And the spicy peppers gave that touch of heat you get from wasabi. I knew I had to make a new version of the amaranth salad, and this time really embrace the California Roll theme. So I headed back to the kitchen, whipped up another batch of amaranth and mixed in crab meat, avocado chunks, cucumber, sesame seeds, and really flavorful sesame-lemon dressing. And the result was amazing! Even I, Ms. Sushi Hater loved this salad. And if you’re a big sushi fan, you can easily up the sushi-ness of it by adding soy sauce, pickled ginger, or even some wasabi paste and nori strips.

Enjoy! And go workout that creative muscle, k?

California Roll Amaranth Salad

California Roll Amaranth Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Skip rolling your sushi, and instead have the same tastes and textures in this easy-to-make (and easy-to-eat) salad!


  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup amaranth
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced finely
  • 1 cup lump crabmeat
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the amaranth, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the amaranth has absorbed all the liquid. Transfer the amaranth to a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, toss together the avocado, lemon juice and lemon zest until all avocado chunks are well-coated. Add mixture to the amaranth. Also add in the sesame seeds, cucumber, jalapeño, and crabmeat. Toss to combine, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, tahini, salt and pepper. Pour over the amaranth mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld before serving.


Amaranth is an awesome gluten-free, inexpensive, whole grain that you can often find in the bulk bins at your local health food store. If you can't track any down, feel free to sub in the same amount of quinoa for a similar texture and flavor.

Lump crab meat can be expensive (and hard to track down for those of us who are landlocked), feel free to sub in imitation crab meat—which is usually actually made from whitefish. Just make sure to check the ingredients first, many of the imitation brands are packed with artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives.

To make this feel even more "sushi-like" you can add in pickled ginger, wasabi paste, soy sauce and even small strips of nori.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 231Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 14g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


Do you consider yourself a creative person?

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  1. well, gosh. I have crab meat that needs used, and a little bit of amaranth leftover from an experiment from a while back. I’ve been wondering what to try next with the crab, and this looks like a great idea. Thanks!

    I definitely suffer from the don’t-use-my-creativity muscle often enough. My ideas for crab usage atrophied after one failed attempt. lol

  2. I wouldn’t consider myself artistically creative. I don’t do crafts and don’t come up with original ideas for things to make or recipes or anything, and I’m kind of a klutz. But when I’m working with a student, I can come up with one idea after another for a research paper that clicks with her interests and the reading she’s already done, or if you ask me what you should read next time you go to the library, I can come up with five suggestions based on what you like to read, right off the top of my head, or if we’re playing a game I can come up with silly poems as often as you want me to. So I am a little creative in some non-artistic ways.

  3. i thought i was not creative at all..but after starting a food blog and writing more and more, i think i am somewhat creative, at least every now and then 🙂

    I love sushi in general and if i can make it in the form of salad, its a winner!

  4. this looks delicious! i’ve never tried amaranth, but i’ve recently branched into barley and farro, so this may be next on my list! i love sushi, and this looks like an easy way to “recreate” it at home.

    i completely agree with you about creativity being a muscle. some of my “best” ideas have come when i’m forced to think outside the box on another task. if this is what your creative muscle turns out, i can’t wait to see what’s next!

  5. This recipe looks awesome! And…highly creative.

    Yes, I consider myself a creative person. I think everyone is creative, and some of us are messier and more random and therefore more likely to REALIZE our creative potential, if that makes sense. Sometimes it’s a bit out of control. But my point is, I don’t think that some people are creative and others are not. It’s a skill that you can practice, and I love focusing on creativity.

  6. This looks and sounds really good!

    I consider myself a creative person (I have an art degree), even though I work in the corporate world in a decidedly uncreative environment. I agree with working that creative muscle to keep it strong and make it stronger. That’s partly why my cubicle reflects my creativity in this grey work enviroment. It’s filled with my artwork and doodles and other colorful things that catch my fancy. 🙂

  7. I definitely think I’m a creative person, and I totally agree that you need to work that creative muscle! I’m a big fan of sushi, but obviously just the veggie variety. Give me a sweet potato tempura roll and a cucumber roll every day!

    Also, fyi, in your notes section, it says “lump crap meat”. Figured that wasn’t what you were going for, haha.

  8. I like to think that I am! I too work in a creativity-based field (kitchen and bath design) and my passion for cooking and developing recipes provides yet another outlet. Gotta work out this muscle as much as the ones in my body, for sure! 🙂

  9. I do consider myself a creative person and I totally agree with your analysis. The more you work that creativity muscle, the stronger it gets. 🙂 Love that. I can definitely tell your creative juices have been flowing with this salad. Very interesting! I’m not generally a sushi girl either, but I love the idea behind this salad anyway. And the Mexican version sounds awesome, too!