Asparagus + Brown Rice Sushi Rolls with Sesame Ginger Sauce

Asparagus + Brown Rice Sushi Rolls with Sesame Ginger Sauce ⎮ happy hearted kitchenAsparagus + Brown Rice Sushi Rolls with Sesame Ginger Sauce ⎮ happy hearted kitchen

Hello from the mountains! We made it. We’re here. We’re back. So many words can be used to describe how we’re feeling; excited, anxious, in awe, at ease, grounded, ambitious, motivated, inspired – but mostly, at home. Something in my heart is telling me that this is where we belong. It feels – comfortable. Familiar. A lot of people have asked us recently why we moved here, and it our most honest answer is because this is where we want to be. Can there be a better reason? I’m not sure.

I get all excited when we arrived some place new, I rush myself into organizing, unpacking, trying to find a home of every little thing and doing daily trips to the grocery store in order to fill up our pantry. I want to explore, to see everything there is to see. I’m impatient this way. I want to know all that there is to know about our new home. Matt is here to remind me that these things take time, that things have a way of eventually finding the perfect home and that one day soon I forget what it was like to have so many unknowns . We have to enjoy this time, when everything is new. And while I can’t ever imagine getting used to this view, I know he’s right.

We roamed the farmer’s market last weekend, and I was delighted to see an abundance of local produce stands selling off spring greens and summer plants. When asparagus and rhubarb are in season I always buy a bundle or two for our weekly meals. Asparagus usually hits the grill or gets tossed into a grains and greens salad, but in the spirit of discovery and all things new, I decided to go another route. I’ve noted my tips on making sushi at home in the recipe below, but most importantly I encourage you to just go for it. It’s definitely not as hard as it seems (nothing ever is) and the longest part about the whole process is just waiting for the rice to cook. So go for it. Go for all of it.

Spring brown rice sushi rolls with asparagus, sprouts, avocado, and a delicious creamy sesame ginger dipping sauce. Vegan + gluten free.IMG_1901_1IMG_2046_1Spring brown rice sushi rolls with asparagus, sprouts, avocado, and a delicious creamy sesame ginger dipping sauce. Vegan + gluten free.


These rolls are exactly what I crave when the weather starts to heat up and picnics are in season. The fillings are of course up to you but I loved this spring combination. Light and refreshing. Don’t miss out on the sauce.

A few notes on homemade sushi. 

Rice. I used sweet brown rice here, which is similar to sushi rice as it gets nice and sticky. If you have white sushi rice, these are best instructions I’ve found + tested. It’s important to wash the rice to remove as much of the excess starch, leaving you with fluffy perfectly cooked rice. If time permits, soak rice for 30 minutes before cooking and allow time for rice to be well drained.

Rolls. Try not to overstuff your sushi or it will be harder to roll. On that note, it’s ok if the rolls aren’t perfect, they will still taste delicious. Just have fun. Keep a small bowl of water beside you while you’re rolling your sushi to keep your fingers clean and to avoid the rice from sticking too much. A bit of water will help seal the edge of the nori rolls as well. Once rolled, lay the rolls to rest seal side down. Use a sharp knife to slice, and clean in between cuts to prevent rice from sticking to the knife.

Sauce. Always Sauce. Tamari or soy sauce is nice. Pickled ginger is good too. Sesame ginger sauce is the best of both worlds. I love this sauce as a salad dressing, marinade or even on top of steamed veggies or rice noodles. If you’re not up for making sushi rolls, just place all your favorite fillings in a bowl and cover with sauce. I’m sure it will taste just as good.

Makes 4-5 rolls. About 20 pieces. Easily doubled. Vegan + Gluten Free.



1 cup brown sweet rice
1 + 1/2 + 1/3 cup water (sorry, but it’s the perfect amount!)

Seasoned Vinegar

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 small bunch asparagus, about 10 stalks
1 ripe avocado, halved and sliced (about 10 pieces)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Sprouts of choice
Black sesame seeds, to garnish

Ginger Sesame Sauce

1/4 cup Tahini
1 tablespoon white or yellow miso
1 tablespoon freshly grated or juiced ginger
1 + 1/2 teaspoon tamari
1 + 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Water to thin, about 2 tablespoons


Start by making your rice. If time permits soak the rice for 30 minutes before starting. Place rice in a bowl and cover with water. Use your finger to massage the rice, the water will turn a milky white. Drain rinse and repeat 2-3 times or until the water is almost clear. Transfer rice to a sieve and let drain. Place rice in a pot with a tight fitting lid and add water. Cover and bring to boil over high heat, then keep covered and reduce heat to the very minimum, simmering the rice for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove from heat completely and allow the rice to steam for 20 minutes, leaving the lid firmly on. After 20 minutes, remove lid, fluff with a fork and stir in the seasoned vinegar (instructions below). Spread rice out on a cutting board or tray and let cool to room temperature.

Make seasoned vinegar while the rice is steaming. Combine all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Steam or blanch the asparagus. I bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil and add asparagus. Boil for about 6 minutes or until tender, time will vary depending on the size of your stalks. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Place a sheet of nori shiny side down on a cutting board or bamboo mat. Have a small bowl of water nearby and wet your fingertips to avoid rice from sticking. Gently press a large handful of rice (about 1/2 cup) thinly over the surface of the nori., covering all but a wide strip at the end farthest from you. Place two stalks of asparagus lengthwise across the rice, add two slices of avocados, spread over green onion and sprouts, then top with lettuce leaf.

To roll, wet your fingers and rub over the exposed strip of nori, this will help seal the rolls. Carefully lift the end closest to your up and over the filling, squeezing firmly. If using a bamboo mat, lift the mat to continue rolling until you reach the end, seal and roll. Wrap the mat around the roll and squeeze to secure. Allow roll to rest seal side down while you repeat with remaining rolls. Use a sharp, moistened knife to slice rolls into 6 to 8 pieces, cleaning the knife between each cut.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Ginger People make a great organic ginger juice – I love it for all sorts of sauces and marinades, especially when I’m to lazy to bring out the juicer. That being said, grated ginger will work just fine. Sauce can also be made by placing all ingredients into a small blender and mixing until smooth.

Sprinkle sushi rolls with sesame seeds and serve with sauce. Leftover (what leftovers?) will keep in the fridge for a day or two, but sushi is always best when fresh.

Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!


  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    May 13, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    This is one of those recipes I see on the internet that just makes me drool. Sushi is probably my favorite food group, and these little rolls look PERFECT. I love that you used brown rice too, way healthier! <3

    • Reply
      Jodi Kay
      May 15, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you, Sarah! I just love sushi too but the veggie options at restaurants aren’t always the most creative are they? All the avocado rolls for me please :) Wishing you well, happiest Sunday! x

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    Sophie | The Green Life
    May 15, 2016 at 12:46 am

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re settling in and that your new place feels like home. I’ve been struggling with that a lot in the past few years and I very much look forward to the day where I can feel what you describe here – the feeling of knowing you’re at the right place and exactly where you belong. I’m sure there’s so much to explore and so many new things to soak up. This feeling is quite incredible and unique – I hope you make the most of that time. I have all of the ingredients to make these beautiful rolls (I love when that happens!!!) so I’m totally making them tonight. Yay! Thanks Jodi for another lovely recipe. xo

    • Reply
      Jodi Kay
      May 15, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      I know what you mean, Sophie. We’ve been looking forward t this move for a few years now, and I was almost nervous that we might be a bit disappointed. But I trusted that I had moved around enough to know what we were looking for – nature, mountains, a vibrant community – and that even though things are far from perfect, we are motivated to build the life we’ve dreamed of now. Thank you for reminding me to make the most of this time, it’s so important. Hope you enjoyed the sushi rolls too :) !!

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    Shelley Ludman
    May 16, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Girl — these are stunning! Discovering the perfect little photography corner (and light) in a new space is never easy and I think you totally nailed it! I am so happy you’re both settling into life out there, and feeling great about the decision to move there, makes my heart smile. So so happy for you both. Sending hugs, xx

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      Jodi Kay
      May 16, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Thank you, Shelley! Can’t wait for you to see it for yourself! Finding the right light is tough, but kind of fun at the same time – all these new discoveries. A good challenge. Sending much love back at you x

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    I’m not used to cook something without baking or cooking in my rice cooker. Have you ever tried that? You have to! Find your perfect here, reading some stainless steel rice cooker reviews.

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