SOS Parsnips: Gena’s Raw Sushi “Rice”

I’m from the generation that was raised on soap operas.  In fact, I first learned to watch soaps at my mother’s knee (no, seriously: the TV was perched on her dresser at the foot of the bed; she sat on the bed, and I, on the floor. . . at her knee). When I was a child, she watched Edge of Night; then Secret Storm.  As a teen, I remember my mom’s daily soap trilogy of Days of Our Lives, Another World, and General Hospital blaring as she did the ironing, folded laundry, or ate her lunch in front of the TV.

Up until it went off the air a couple of years ago, I loved watching my favorite soap as well. Since its demise, I’ve barely watched any television at all (though some might suggest that’s a good thing). My weekday evenings would go something like this:  walk the dogs, prep dinner, catch up with the HH, clear up the kitchen together. Retreat upstairs to the TV room where I’d snuggle in to my favorite armchair, feet tucked under me and a steaming cup of herbal tea in my hand.  Flick on the PVR and start the day’s episode.  Gaze with anticipation at the screen; adjust the volume as the credits roll. Sit back and savor every one of the 42 minutes of the show.

Unless, of course, it was a day when this happened: 

Voice Over Announcer: The role of Mary Montgomery will now be played by [some unknown actress’s name].

Didn’t you hate when they did that? Poof!–Just like that–one of your favorite characters could become. . . somebody else!

Sometimes, the show didn’t even bother to find a successor who resembled the original actor (as when Peter Bergman replaced Terry Lester as Jack) or–the apex of “please suspend your disbelief”–when they replaced Anne Heche, who had assumed the role of identical twins Marly and Vicky, with two separate actresses who were not only different somatotypes, but also about six inches apart in height.

On the other hand, there are plenty of occasions when a stand-in might just surpass the original.  Do you know the story of how Shirley Maclaine got her start on Broadway?  Toiling as an unknown understudy to Carol Haney in The Pyjama Game, Maclaine leapt to fame when she replaced Haney at the last minute after the star broke her ankle.  The rest, as they say, is history. (And have any of you heard of Carol Haney since then?  I didn’t think so). Similarly, I’d say that the unnamed actor’s moves in Flashdance (that eye-popping finale in front of the dance academy judges at the end of the film) certainly outshone anything Beals herself could have done. And who didn’t think that the body double for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman was infinitely more appealing in those thigh-high boots than the somewhat equine Ms. Roberts herself?  

Well, this past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind for the HH and me, one that  involved its own stand-in of sorts.  After a final celebratory brunch at Fresh in honor of my birthday (don’t you just love a birthday that lasts almost a month?), I  threw a little dinner for my office mate, who married his long-time sweetheart a couple of months back.  Interestingly, while the number of couples opting for cohabitation continues to increase yearly, Mr. Mate is the second person over 40 that I know who tied the knot recently.  (Is there some tax loophole for “legally married in middle age” that the HH and I should know about?).

Our dinner party menu was a truly eclectic affair, with food geared both toward the omnis among us (ie, everyone except me) and a few choice morsels from my vegan repertoire, selected specifically to wow the guests (I didn’t want to overwhelm those folks with a full-on ACD menu; we do want them to come back, after all).  So I served these sushi rolls as appetizers, which everyone gobbled up with glee.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that the HH and I used to enjoy a weekly lunch date,  which began after I switched my diet from the SAD to the NAG (luckily, those acronyms apply to my eating habits rather than describing me in general). Every Tuesday, we’d meet for sushi: the HH savored his chunks o’ raw seafood, while I relished my beloved veggie maki.  For several years, all was well with the Ricki-HH world.  (“And our world, too, Mum! Except we weren’t crazy about you leaving us for two whole hours once a week. What’s up with that?“).

Once I reverted to the strict ACD in March, 2009, sushi was off the table–literally.  I wasn’t permitted even a minute amount of sugar (used to season sushi rice), and of course the (white, refined) sushi rice was also forbidden.  Wahhhh!  Instead, I frequently turned to one of my favorite substitutes, raw nori rolls, which I could make at home whenever I craved sushi. Unfortunately, this dietary change also means that my lunch dates with the HH have been put on hold indefinitely since then.  (“But Mum, now you have more time with us! How’s that for a bonus??”).

When I came upon Gena’s recipe for raw sushi “rice,” I knew I’d have to give it a try in lieu of my usual rolls. And a bonus for me (besides all that extra time with The Girls) is that it’s made from parsnips–this month’s SOS ingredient! Knowing I could depend on Gena for a recipe that was both reliable and delicious, I went ahead and rolled up a huge batch.

Incredibly easy to make, this sushi rice evokes a distinct Asian palate with a novel combination of ingredients. When raw, parsnips are mildly flavored and don’t overpower the other seasonings; they provide the perfect foil for any vegetables you choose to surround with “rice,” all wrapped in a glossy, chewy, umami nori sheet. The beauty of this recipe is that you can pair the “rice” with any filling you fancy.  The HH and I first enjoyed some simple rolls with just “rice,” avocado and tomato on the first night we tried them. For my guests, I added cucumber, carrot and green onion to the mix.  I also drizzled a little sriracha over the top of the veggies before rolling–a great way to provide the “oomph” of wasabi paste when you don’t have the actual wasabi at home (though I’m definitely going to try these again using pickled ginger and wasabi for a more traditional “sushi” experience). I’d even try the “rice” on its own or with other toppings as part of a dinner bowl rather than rolled in sushi–I think it could stand up well on its own.

My office mate and his new bride adored these little bites, as do the HH and I.  They had no idea what was in them, except that it wasn’t rice; and they certainly didn’t realize that our appetizers were both ACD friendly and vegan.  In fact, I’m already planning for the plant-based replacement I’ll use in our main course, next time.

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Last Year at this Time: Biscuits in Need of Therapy (Gluten Free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond) 

Two Years Ago: Roasted Red Pepper Dip (Gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)

Three Years Ago: Chili to Last Through the Winter (Gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)

Four Years Ago: Gluten Free Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies (not ACD friendly)

 I’m sending this recipe along to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays this week.



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  1. Ahh my entry was going to be a parsnip based rice dish too 🙁

  2. Looks great, Ricki! I can’t wait to try this out… haven’t ever eaten parsnips raw. 🙂

  3. Hmm, need to try this – parsnip is not my favorite veg, always seemed to me to have a strong, somewhat soapy flavor, but I have never tried it raw. I have seen jicama used as a rice substitute in sushi recipes, but it is hard to find in grocery stores. The one time I did purchase jicama, it ended up rotting in the bottom of the fridge before I found time to make the complicated chef’s recipe I had planned. Thanks for your post!

    • We’ve had the identical jicama experience. 😉 I must say, I loved the parsnips raw–no soapy taste or really anything except the seasonings!

  4. That is just amazing – I have long loved parsnips but every now and again wondered why I have raw carrot and raw parsnip – haven’t actually tried the stuff – must try this – it is already bookmarked

    I never watched the american soaps that were daytime soaps but I have loved a few nighttime soaps – esp the british ones – just the music of eastenders takes me back to my teen years!

    • Even though I didn’t particularly love cooked parsnips, I did love this! And don’t even get me started on nighttime soaps. . . that’s a whole other animal! I was hooked on a few in my 20s but never really cottoned on to them older. I still do miss As the World Turns, though.

  5. So creative! When it comes to root veggies I always fall back on roasting but since Canadian winter is quickly approaching (no more local summer veggies!) I am so ready to get more creative. Can’t wait to try!

  6. This is exactly the recipe I thought of when you announced parsnip! Looks just as good by you, Ricki.

    Also, you want to talk long-lasting birthdays? Mine was May 26. My family finally took me out for dinner for it…. the other week, October 28. And I still haven’t got a present from my parents.

    • Ha, ha–sounds like my birthday in this house! To be fair, the HH DID ask me what I wanted, and I still haven’t answered. . . . so no present for me, yet, either. We should consult about it and ask for the same (impossible) thing–a trip to Australia/Canada, perhaps? 😉

      • *laughs* That’s almost exactly the situation here! My parents said they’d contribute to a new camera, but I’m terrified of technological decisions so still haven’t picked one yet 😛

        I love your idea! And if they say this is impossible, why don’t we make it more feasible by meeting somewhere in the middle! Japan? Africa? Heavens, I have no idea what’s in the middle of us..

        • When my buddy Sterlin moved from here to Australia, she met her now-husband “in the middle” in Fiji. They had a great honeymoon there. . . sounds like a beautiful spot to me! 😉

  7. Now that kind of sushi I could do! Thanks to you and Gena for this recipe. 🙂 Yum!

    I chuckled over the soap operas. Memories. Esecially The Edge of Night. Haven’t thought of that one in decades. And it’s been decades since I watched soaps, too, but they were once a fun part of my life. 😉


  8. Yum what a great idea for sushi!!

  9. I am so flattered, Ricki, to see my sushi here! Thanks a million for sharing them with office mates and loved ones alike. I’m so glad you enjoyed.

  10. Yum! I would love a plate of these, feel free to invite me to any and all future parties. I could look like your hired staff, as long as you feed me. By the way, your soap opera love is just one more reason for me to love you! The only soap opera we watch these days is a little bit of Corrie 🙂

    • You know, I could use the help! Har har. I’ll feed you any time, Maggie! One of these days I’ll get it together to throw a blogger party at our place (though, hmmm. . . that would mean we could only invite about 4 bloggers–it’s a small place). Would you believe I don’t know what Corrie is? I’m going to go look it up now. 🙂

  11. I’m intrigued. Raw parsnip rice is something I have not had the pleasure of tasting, but the sushi on your and Gena’s blogs looks so good. I love sushi, and have made raw sushi, but not like this. Gotta try it! Would you believe I actually just made something with parsnips, not even knowing it was this month’s subject. Now if only I could organize myself to write up the recipe and submit it. Sigh.

  12. I passed by a crate of parsnips at the farmer’s market today and though, “Maybe I should buy some of those?”
    I decided not to since I wasn’t sure if I could make anything raw from parsnips (I’m trying to get back into raw!).

    Now I wish I did get them!

  13. I’ve wanted to make my own sushi for a while, just haven’t gotten around to it (what can I say, take-out is so easy, ha!) I’ve always wanted to try out some rice alternatives, whenever I get around to making it. I’ve sought other veggie options but parsnip hasn’t popped up till now! I ‘ll be keeping this in mind.

    • Honestly, parsnip wouldn’t have been the first thing on my mind, either–but I liked it much more than the cauliflower version! Worth making, Cara, and very easy to do! 🙂

  14. Sumptuous indeed!


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