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.


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