Swedish Meatless Balls
People that know me well, know I have a hard time making up my mind, especially when it comes to something like choosing only ONE dish at a restaurant! That’s why it probably won’t come as surprise to hear that way back, when I was quite a little kid and my mom asked me what I wanted to eat, my reply was “Can we have a smorgasbord?” You see, I’ve always been destined to live in Sweden.
But no, sorry, no smörgåsbord (the real Swedish spelling) of recipes today, only one – Swedish meatless balls!
Soon after not getting my way and having to choose one thing to eat, my standards dropped, my resolve caved and I’d ask for one of my favorite frozen meals, all ready to microwave: Swedish meatballs, with pasta. I know, I know, the Swedes are rolling their eyes – with PASTA?! While Swedish meatballs with tagliatelle or fettuccine is something completely normal, even expected for Americans, Swedes would never eat them with anything over than mashed potatoes and some lingonberry jam. (And now the Americans are thinking, “Meatballs and JAM?!”) Soooo, since I never get to eat them with pasta here, I decided to make some for myself!
But before we go any further, these are of course, meat-LESS balls! These balls are made with ground soy protein – also called Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). A lot of people have a lot of different views when it comes to soy. This post could easily become 5000 words long if I started having that discussion, so I’ll keep it short. The soy protein I use is always non-GMO, and I only eat organic tofu. And if you’re worried about any other negative effects you’ve heard claims about, let me introduce you to something else that is very Swedish, the word, “lagom”. Translated to English this would be something like “just right” or “moderate” which is a perfect way to describe how I think one should eat most things. Moving on…
One important flavor characteristic of truly Swedish meatless balls, is allspice, so if you’re looking for an authentic flavor, don’t leave it out. I did, however, take some liberties by adding both nutmeg and sage in small quantities. Throwing in some diced onions and mushrooms also enhance the flavor and gives these balls a great consistency. The cream sauce or brown sauce served with this dish is often a little bit lighter in color than the one I made this time. The only reason for this is that I used a very dark variety of miso paste – choose a light paste, and you’ll get a more typical beige color.
Oh I almost forgot that little dish you see to the left in the photo above is 50/50 mixture or nutritional yeast (which I sprinkle over just about everything) and crushed hemp seeds. Whether you plan on serving this with pasta or potatoes, I hope you enjoy these Swedish meatless balls – or as they say in Swedish “Smaklig måltid!”
Swedish Meatless Balls
- 8 oz (225 g) – ground soy (Similar to TVP but frozen. If you use dry soy pieces, you may need some extra water.)
- 4 oz (115 g) – mushrooms, diced
- ½ onion – diced
- ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) – allspice
- ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) – nutmeg
- ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) – sage
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – water + 1 heaping tsp (6 ml) – vegetable bouillon
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – potato flour
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – bread crumbs
- vegan margarine for frying Creamy vegan brown sauce
- 1/8 cup (.3 dl) – all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsps (30 ml) – vegan margarine
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) – plant-based cooking cream (oat)
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – plant-based milk, warmed
- 1 Tbsp (30 ml) – miso paste
- 1 tsp (5 ml) – soy sauce
- 1 tsp (5ml) – vegan Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) – onion powder (This time I actually used something called Natural Umami Powder, which contains onion, tomato and soy.)
- Heat a little vegan margarine or oil in a frying pan, add the diced onion and cook a few minutes until it starts to get soft.
- Add the soy protein, diced mushrooms and spices/herbs and fry a few more minutes.
- Mix the water and vegetable stock, add to the meatless mixture, stir and cook for a further few minutes.
- Remove from heat, transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the potato flour and breadcrumbs and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- When cool enough to touch, use your hands to roll approx. 24 balls that are roughly 1¼ inches (3+ cm) wide. (Swedish meatballs are generally on the small-ish side.) Try to press the mixture into compact balls so that don’t break when frying. Feel free to add more water/breadcrumbs If you think you need to adjust the consistency.
- Heat some vegan margarine in a frying pan over medium high heat, add the meatless balls and stir frequently, but carefully, so that they get some color on all sides. If you’re a good multi-tasker, start the sauce now.
- Melt the vegan margarine, add the flour and stir/whisk to blend. Add the plant-based cream and stir.
- Pour the milk into a small, microwavable bowl, and warm for a minute or so. Add the miso paste and stir to dissolve t completely. Now pour this into the pan with the cream.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to blend everything.
- When you’re done frying all the meatless balls and they have gotten some color on all sides, carefully add them to the brown sauce and gently stir so that they get covered with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low or medium low.
- Let the sauce and meatless balls simmer while you boil some pasta. When the pasta is done, drain and serve with the sauce and meatless balls on top!
The balls should be fairly sturdy and compact, but try to handle them as gently as possible in each step so that they do not break. Also, remember that normal Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, so you need to find the special vegan variety.