We are avid sushi fans and love to eat nori when it’s wrapped around seasoned rice and fish or veggies. But lately, toasted seaweed has emerged as a go-to snack on its own, which got me thinking beyond the sushi bar. Nori is a wonderful sea vegetable. It contains protein, fiber and vitamins, plus it tastes good! So working more seaweed into our meals is an easy decision.
With fall’s arrival, a hearty grain salad is ideal for supper. I’ve made a warm rice salad with spinach several times, the hot grains wilting the fresh spinach just enough. This last time, though, I tossed in some toasted nori along with the spinach. I quickly discovered that nori sticks together in a mass when it hits the heat! So I made a pot of quinoa and tried again, this time adding small squares of nori and stirring to blend it in without clumping. Success!
Carrot ribbons, sliced green onions, sesame seeds and cooked salmon went into the bowl next. This salad is one of those “bits and bobs” recipes, where you can toss in any leftover veggies like broccoli or peppers, or another protein such as tofu or chicken. A lively dressing of lemon juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger finishes the salad.
The salad components can be prepared ahead of time, allowing you to toss and serve it quickly for a weeknight supper. Full of texture and flavor, you get a little taste of the sea in every bite.
Nori Quinoa Salad
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups cooked quinoa (I used a mix of red and white), kept warm or reheated
5 sheets of nori, toasted and torn into strips or squares
6 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped
4 ounces carrots, grated or peeled into ribbons
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted (I used a mix of white and black)
1 cup cooked or smoked salmon, flaked (optional)
Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and black pepper. Place the warm quinoa in a large serving bowl. Add the squares of nori a few at a time, gently stirring to wilt them and being careful that they don’t clump up. Add all the spinach and stir to wilt, too. Mix in the carrots, green onions, sesame seeds and salmon and then drizzle the dressing over and toss gently. Serve warm.