Quinoa Sushi Salad, Vegan

Ah, sushi.

For years, I decided that I didn’t like it. I’m not even sure if I tried it before coming to that decision (like a picky kid would). The thought of eating anything with raw fish (or any raw meat) repulsed me. Then, when I was with my husband at a Japanese restaurant a few years ago, I reached over my familiar teriyaki chicken and reluctantly tried a bite of his California roll – which I learned did not contain raw fish.

It was… different, but surprisingly good! Especially when dipped in soy sauce with a sliver of pickled ginger on top (wasabi, on the other hand, did not agree with me). Yum, yum, yum.

After becoming vegan, I knew I was going to miss California rolls. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to track down a recipe for veggie sushi rolls, which did it for me (unfortunately, the link to the original recipe has expired). But while the homemade veggie sushi rolls were satisfying, making them was time-consuming, and I had to take special measures to make sure that the rice was sticky enough.

Why not just toss all the ingredients in a bowl and eat it with a fork? It’s all going down the same hatch anyway and will still have that fresh sushi taste.

Quinoa Sushi Salad, Vegan

When you’ve been eating too many heavy things and your body needs a quick reset, this vegan quinoa sushi salad makes a light, nutritious weeknight meal.

Don’t get me wrong, it will still fill you up, but it will leave you feeling energized instead of bogged down. The quinoa makes a good alternative to rice here, because it’s packed with protein, absorbs the dressing well, and doesn’t need to be sticky.

I like to have a batch of cooked quinoa in the fridge for quick dishes like this. I’ll often make just enough for one serving and I sometimes vary the vegetables, but I try to always include cucumber, avocado, and of course, seaweed.

After playing around with the ratios for the dressing base, I realized that the simplest formula worked best: equal parts tamari (or soy sauce), rice vinegar, and tahini. For single-size servings, I would start with a tablespoon each of the 3 main dressing ingredients, then add a pinch of sugar and ground ginger to taste.

It is important to note that when making the dressing, the tahini should be whisked in last. I’ve tried making it in reverse order with the tahini first, but as soon as you add the vinegar, it makes the tahini thick and clumpy and gross. So, add it last.

Quinoa Sushi Salad, Vegan

I actually made a big bowl of this quinoa sushi salad to take to a work holiday party last week. I didn’t know how people would react to it, or if it would be weird and un-Christmas-y, or if anyone would even try it, but I knew that  would like it, so *fluff* it! That’s what I took.

I learned from Cadry at Cadry’s Kitchen that when it comes to making vegan dishes for potlucks and other gatherings, it’s best to just make stuff that you like and let go of any expectations of how others will receive it. Don’t pressure yourself to impress everyone. So, without expecting any feedback in particular, I was pleasantly surprised when a couple of guests came up to me to tell me how good my salad was. Yay!! 🙂

Quinoa Sushi Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Quinoa Sushi Salad

This salad comes together really quickly once the quinoa is cooked and cooled. I highly recommend doing that step the day before.


  • 2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup edamame, no shells
  • 1 cucumber, diced with skin on
  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced diagonally
  • 1 handful spinach, chopped
  • 2 large kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 3 sheets roasted seaweed, cut into 1/2-inch rectangles (use kitchen shears)
  • 2 avocados, diced
    For the Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan cane sugar (such as Zulka Morena)
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup tahini


  1. Rinse quinoa in a colander; this step removes the bitterness. Bring quinoa and 4 cups water to boil in a large saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes or until fluffy and tender. Let cool (quinoa can be cooked a day ahead of time).
  2. In a large bowl, stir cooked, cooled quinoa with edamame, cucumber, carrots, spinach, kale, and seaweed to combine well.
  3. Combine the rice vinegar, tamari, sugar, and ginger in a small bowl. Whisk in the tahini last, then immediately pour over the quinoa mixture. Toss well to combine.
  4. Gently fold in the diced avocado.
  5. Optional: Garnish with extra seaweed, avocado slices, and sesame seeds. Best served immediately, but still good the next day.
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Nutrition information below is for 1/8 of the salad. Does not include optional garnishes.

Quinoa Sushi Salad Nutrition Information

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