These days, a meal just doesn't seem complete without some sort of root vegetable or winter squash involved. This is truly a winter sushi roll: grounded and hearty balanced with a nice dose of fresh. I used Kabocha squash, but you could easily use buttenut, parsnips or yams as well. It is really the rich sweetness we are after.
To me, avocados are pivotal to the successful vegetarian sushi roll, as they lend a certain unmatched creaminess and ability to satisfy the tongue. Another option might be some sort of flavored cashew cream drizzle (cilantro or basil?). The cucumber offers a crunch factor, and the tempeh a nuttiness, which all roll together into quite the flavor and texture burst.
If you are making these rolls ahead for an impressive potluck contribution, store uncut and slice just before serving, to minimize "dryout".
Avocado, Roasted Squash and Tempeh Sushi with Homemade Pickled Ginger
5-inch peice of ginger, fresh
1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbs. unrefined sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup short grain brown rice
1/2 cup amaranth
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 cups water
tamari to taste
9 nori sheets
1/2 small kabocha squash, matchsticked
1tbs. coconut oil, melted
8 oz. tempeh, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed
1 tbs. wasabi paste
1/4 cup tamari
To pickle ginger, slice as thinly as possible with a mandoline, or careful knife. Bring vinegar through salt to boil in a small saucepan, and add ginger. Turn down heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and marinate for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until serving.
To roast squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cut squash with coconut oil and salt, spread flat on a baking sheet, and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring after 15 min, or until soft and beginning to crisp on the edges. Cool completely.
In a large pot, bring rice, amaranth, water and coconut milk to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, covered, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 25-40 minutes. Stir, add tamari to taste and cool.
Slice tempeh, cucumber and avocado.
Place a sheet of nori, shiny side down on a sushi rolling mat. Place about 1/2 cup of rice mixture on bottom third of nori sheet, and spread to reach both sides, ending with an even rectangle. Lie avocado, cucumber, cilantro stem and tempeh on top (for a visual, check the title picture). Using wet fingertips, wet the length of the end of the nori sheet. Carefully roll, tucking nori as it meet, into a neat and tight roll, moving away from you. Press to seal. Store if saving for later, or slice with a slightly wet knife into 6 if serving immediately. Serve with cooled and drained pickled ginger, as well as wasabi and a small dish of tamari.