Nori is a salty, grassy, edible seaweed. Once harvested, it’s washed, shredded, then pressed into molds to dry, forming paper-like sheets. It’s been consumed in Japan and China for centuries, and is an important part of Japanese cuisine especially. Nori is the toasted seaweed that wraps our sushi. Once you buy some, it’ll keep for a long time, if you keep it dry and sealed in a package. And since I’ve had some nori in my pantry for a while, I tried the “Nori, Egg, and Potato Rolls,” from the September 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. What we have here is basically a potato salad wrapped up like sushi. A cute idea, perhaps, but I believe nori can handle far more creative fillings: something crunchier, something spicier.

Instead of celery, I used carrot in my potato salad. I also used true mayonnaise, rather than a vegan variety. It was easy enough to wrap the salad within a sheet of nori (it’s a user-friendly sheet, unlike phyllo dough!). Unlike sushi, which is assembled and eaten immediately, to enjoy the freshness of all the elements, this roll is refrigerated for 20 minutes first. The result is a softened roll. The nori is no longer crispy. What you’ve got is potato salad wrapped in an undeniable seaweed scent. Does this appeal to you and your diners? Maybe not.

I needed to spice up this blandness, so I dipped my rolls in some spiced tamari sauce. How about you take this nori-rolling concept and create a wilder roll? Let me know what happens.

My advocacy for quinoa should now be renowned; I only have praise for this marvelous, ancient, whole grain. For the first time, I used red quinoa to make the “Spiced Quinoa,” from All Recipes, and it’s fantastic. Compared with white quinoa, the red variety has a slightly earthier flavor--all the better! Once cooked, it has a light brownish color, and for some reason it turned my chopped onion green.

The curry powder, cumin, and cinnamon warmly spice this dish. I used vegetable-bouillon stock. The garbanzo beans, pine nuts, and (golden) raisins are an ideal flavor combination. Take pride in this smart, tasty, nutty quinoa.

PRICES
Yukon Gold Potatoes (12 oz.) = .65¢
Onion (1) = .37¢
Canned Garbanzo Beans (14 oz.) = $1.56

RECIPES: expand your nori-rolling abilities with ideas beyond potato salad; include the beauty of quinoa in your current lifestyle
PREP TIMES:
nori rolls need more than an hour of prep, cooking, and chilling; quinoa could be ready to eat in about 45 minutes
TASTES: how’s your potato salad? Try spice! Give it a kick! Nutty quinoa is warmed by cinnamon and enhanced by beans, pine nuts, and raisins

Next time, I want to cook the “Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings,” from threemanycooks.com, as well as the “Succotash Fried Rice,” from cuisinerecipes.com. This should be a great meal. Come back to my site on Thursday, October 7, to witness this one.