Parsnips Mock Crab Salad


As you may know from reading my blog for a while, I’ve been going through my mom’s old recipe file boxes. It’s been fascinating and I’m enjoying rediscovering and veganizing old family favorites. But I’m really loving finding some wonderful treasures, like the Best Corn-Oat Waffles and some other recipes I’ll share in the future! One surprising discovery was a recipe for Parsnip Mock Crab Salad! Really—Parsnips! That recipe, with my updates, comes at the end because first I want to share information about the parsnip, a vegetable I don’t think a lot of people use, but should!

All About Parsnips

They’re not the most gorgeous vegetable, but parsnips sure are delicious!

I think parsnips are very underappreciated! Now I didn’t grow up eating parsnips (my mom wasn’t a fan), but I do distinctly remember my grandmother making mashed carrots and parsnips once when I was staying with her for spring break and just fell in love with them. Parsnips are sweet, earthy, and have a herbal taste to them. It’s like a carrot, potato, and celery root had a baby! They look like big white overgrown carrots and can be intimidating if you don’t know anything about them. Note, these are NOT white carrots—there really is a white carrot, and it tastes like a carrot—parsnips taste completely different.

Parsnips grow an entire year before harvesting. They are planted in spring and left in the ground throughout the winter where the cold temperatures actually make the parsnip root sweeter. Oddly, the bigger the parsnip, the better, and they can get HUGE. Even though these roots are big, they are still tender, unlike most other vegetables.

Picking the Best Parsnips

Choose larger sized parsnips that are more white; avoid yellowing or brown parsnips. Pick ones with greens still attached, if you can find them, as they will be freshest (greens wilt quickly, so fresh greens indicate fresh picking). Greens should be bright and not wilted or yellowing. If greens have been removed, avoid parsnips with blackened ends or new sprouts growing where the greens were. Some stores coat parsnips in wax—avoid those as they conceal bad spots!

Pick big parsnips!

Storing Parsnips

Parsnips are long-storing vegetables. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks in the vegetable crisper, either loose or wrapped in a damp cloth. They store beautifully in a root cellar, if you have one.

Ideas for Using

I love to roast chunks of parsnips with other root vegetables. Just peel them and cut into chunks the same size as the other veggies, like potatoes, beets, carrots, rutabagas, turnips, yams, etc. My favorite way is to roast them with the gravy from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen recipe for Whole Roasted Cauliflower without the cauliflower (you may recall I use her gravy recipe to make Vegan Campers Stew)! I’ve been known to make up a HUGE pan of this and eat it all week. The parsnips are my favorite bite out of all of it.

I also include parsnips in root veggie hash. Just dice them up the same size as potatoes and roast them on a silicone-covered sheet pan, coated with a little vegetable stock, at 400°F for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Or, like my grandma, simmer chunked carrots and parsnips in water or broth until tender. Drain and then mash with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper. So simple yet so good!

Mock Crab Salad

This was a new one on me! My mom doesn’t even recall where this recipe card came from and it wasn’t marked. It was simply a parsnip salad with mayonnaise, celery, and green olives. But it inspired me to see if parsnips would make a great mock crab. I amped it up with some powdered sea vegetables to give it more of a seafood flavor.

Grated parsnip, using the small grate is important for this.

To start, peel 1-2 parsnips, depending up on how big they are. Then grate them on the small grate of your grater. This is important. I tried using the large grate and I tried using a microplane grater, and the small grate is perfect, with the best texture and makes it taste less like a parsnip salad and more like mock crab.

Sea vegetable infused dressing.

Combine plant-based mayonnaise of choice, some grated onion or granulated onion, powdered anori and dulse sea vegetables (I just pulverize these in my Vitamix or high-speed blender), lemon juice, soy sauce, date paste or maple syrup, and salt. If you want it spicy, like for a spicy crab sushi roll, add a little Sriracha sauce. Mix well and combine with the grated parsnip. Chill at least overnight, but it’s better if it’s chilled a couple days, stirring occasionally, as the sea vegetables infuse their flavor and the grated parsnip softens.

Let this mixture chill, best for 2 days.

Use any where you would use crab salad. It’s delicious in a sandwich, on an English muffin topped with my Vegan Queso (leave out the adobo sauce so it’s not spicy) like a crab melt, stuffed in cherry tomatoes, and it’s awesome in a California roll or spicy crab sushi roll.

Mock crab salad goes great in a sushi roll!

We had a whole sushi meal with this mock crab salad!

Spicy Mock Crab California Roll. Yum!

If you’re looking for more whole food, plant-based sushi ideas, check out My Oooh-Nagi (Vegan Unagi) recipe.

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4.60 from 5 votes

Mock Crab Salad

This versatile salad is made with a surprise ingredient-raw parsnip! Use it in sandwiches, stuffed into cherry tomatoes, or add a little sriracha sauce for spicy mock crab sushi rolls!
Course Appetizer, Salad, Spreads, Dips, Sauces, and Dressings, Un-Seafood
Cuisine Asian, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sushi
Keyword Dulse, Parsnips, sea vegetables, Sriracha, Wakame
Calories 366.9kcal
Author Cindy Thompson, MS, NBC-HWC | Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching


  • 2 cups grated raw parsnips small grate
  • 1 cup plant-based mayo of choice
  • tablespoon anori or wakame flakes pulverized in high speed blender
  • 1 tablespoon raw grated onion small grate, or ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
  • teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce or coconut aminos for soy-free
  • ¼ teaspoon dulse pulverized in high speed blender
  • ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon date paste or maple syrup
  • sriracha sauce to taste, if want spicy


  • Grate the parsnip on small grate. Put into a small mixing bowl.
  • Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Can use different combinations of sea vegetables to get the seafood flavor if you don't have anori, wakame, and dulse.
  • Mix the mayonnaise mixture into the grated parsnip until well-combined. Refrigerate at least overnight, better if 2 days. Use as desired.


If you can't find anori, dulse, or wakame, you can use nori sushi wrappers. Tear them into pieces and pulverize in your blender or food processor. Or soak in a little water and blend into a paste to add to your mock crab salad. Adjust amount to taste.


Calories: 366.9kcal | Carbohydrates: 73.6g | Protein: 10.2g | Fat: 4.9g | Saturated Fat: 0.6g | Sodium: 890.7mg | Potassium: 1038.1mg | Fiber: 14.5g | Sugar: 26.3g | Vitamin A: 27.8IU | Vitamin C: 79.2mg | Calcium: 413.7mg | Iron: 2.1mg

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  1. Marilyn on December 28, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you Cindy for this great recipe. Where do you find the sushi wrappers? Totally agree with you that Natural Grocers has the best parsnips!

    • Cindy Thompson, Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching on December 28, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      You’re so welcome! I find the toasted nori sushi wrappers in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores or at any Asian market. You can also order them from Amazon. Eden brand Toasted Nori Wrappers are a great option.

  2. Amelia on January 1, 2022 at 4:46 am

    I love this idea however I’m trying to go low/no fat and though I love mayo, it has a lot of that! I have tried making mayo out of tofu to cut down on some of the fat with varying results. Part of the yum factor in seafood salads for me was, in fact, the mayonaise, so I’m curious if you have experience with tofu mayonaise (or even a recipe to suggest for it that would do well here) and if you think it could work well in this dish (?)

    • Cindy Thompson, Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching on January 4, 2022 at 10:36 am

      Yes! I’ve not posted it yet, but here’s the sneak-peak link for my Creamy Tofu Mayo that I make and it goes great in this Mock Crab Salad: Creamy Tofu Cashew Mayo

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