Sunday, 19 August 2012

Vegan Swedish Meatballs

I apologise - this is not the best photo that I have ever posted! The main reason behind this is because I cooked these for a dinner party which meant that a) it was evening when I finished them - so the light was bad, and b) we just wanted to eat it and not wait around while I took glam shots. It's just meatballs with 'creamy' gravy anyway, so not the most glamorous subject to photograph!

When Sweden was requested as a country I was specifically asked to create a vegan meatball recipe, and here is my best shot! There are a couple of recipes on the net for vegan meatballs, I looked around a bit as I started. But none of them really looked good to me. Most of them were basically meatball recipes which used some sort of vegan "mince" product - i.e. heavily processed soy or TVP which generally costs more than actually buying meat. I prefer something a bit more original and a little less processed. I did find one recipe that used black beans, which I'm sure would have been delicious but I don't think would have been quite the right texture.

What I ended up was a completely original concoction which made surprisingly delicious meatballs! I'm not going to lie to you - they don't have exactly the same texture of meat meatballs. I'm not sure anything would have the same texture as meat meatballs. What I can say is that they were delicious! They also held together perfectly when I rolled them and fried them even with absolutely no "egg substitute", which just shows that you don't need one! Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with a creamy gravy, which I have managed to adapt here using almonds to create the creaminess

Nutmeat! In case you haven't met it yet!

I used nutmeat as one of the main elements of my meatballs. I'm not sure how familiar people out there are with nutmeat - I remember my father (not a vegetarian!) used to make a delicious vegetarian nutmeat bolognaise which I love so much that I preferred it to meaty bolognaise even as a child. It has a great flavour, and is very adaptable into any recipe in which you might use mince meat.

I love nutmeat. In fact, while I was living overseas in China, nutmeat was pretty much the only thing that I couldn't get my hands on. So, when my wonderful friend Paul came to visit me in the Middle Kingdom I asked him to bring me some nutneat so that we would make bolognaise. He carried the tin of nutmeat through Thailand, Vietnam and Laos before it arrive in China with me, a well travelled tin of nutmeat! If you'd like to see the photo journal of this then check it out here!


The Meatballs
1 x 415g can of nutmeat
1 cup burghul
1 1/2 cups boiling waters
1 tsp 'beef' stock powder (use a vegan brand, like Massel)
1 onion, diced
1 large field mushroom (about 150g), chopped
3 slices wholemeal plain bread
2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1-2 tbsp chopped continental parsley
1 tbsp soy sauce
Spray of vegetable oil for cooking.

The Gravy
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
3 cups boiling water
2 heaped tsp 'beef' stock powder (Massel)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup blanched almonds, soaked in cold water for an hour or two and then drained
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of nutmeg

To Make:
1. Mix burghul and stock powder. Add boiling water and leave for 15 minutes.
2. Pulse bread in a food processor to form fine soft breadcrumbs. Put in a mixing bowl.
3. Sauté onions and mushrooms in 1-2 tsp water until the onions are soft and transparent. Process in the food processor briefly and then add to the mixing bowl.
4. Process the nutmeat until it is a mince like texture. Put in mixing bowl.
5. Process the soaked burghul for 1-2 minutes and then add that to the bowl as well. Add the spices and parsley and mix well with your hands.

6. Form into meatballs with your hands. It should make about 35ish walnut sized meatballs.
7. Fry in batches until browned and then transfer to a baking/casserole dish.
8. Then, make the gravy:
9. Puree the almonds with the lemon juice until it forms a smooth paste.
10. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. When hot, add the flour and stir well. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
11. Add the stock powder and they soy sauce to the boiling water. Add this a little at a time to the flour in the saucepan, stirring vigorously the whole time to prevent lumps forming. Continue until you've added all the water. Add the pureed almonds and stir well. At your own discretion you can add more water if you want to make it thinner.
12. Pour the gravy all over the meatballs and serve immediately.

Serves 4-5 people.

This month I'm featuring lots of amazing recipes from Sweden!
Check out my other Swedish recipe posts:


  1. Yummy, especially the gravy. Also this is the first time that I've prepared meatballs...and they stayed as meatballs- not fallen apart on me. First time I used nutmeat as well, I want to try your bolognase sauce now.

    I'm going to wait until I get a new deep fryer to attempt the meatballs again as shallow frying is way too time-consuming (and probably not the best meal to cook on a 40+ degree day, lol). My deep fryer died and I haven't had the chance to replace it yet- I want to purchase an air-fryer instead ;)

    I'm going to make that gravy regularly though :)

  2. Hi,
    This looks great! I live in the United States and haven't seen the nutmeat before. Do you know if it is sold anywhere here?
    Also, that vegan Swedish sandwich looks amazing.

    1. I've had quite a lot of American readers ask me about nutmeat, I did a bit of research but I don't think you can get nutmeat in the USA. Unless you can buy it on an Australian website which ships there? It's a big shame, because I think nutmeat is so delicious and it makes the best spaghetti bolognese.

    2. Thanks for your reply. I contacted the company that makes it and they suggested the same thing you did (look on an Australian website). So, I'll start looking. Do you have any suggestions on which "Australian websites"?

    3. Try:

  3. Hi - I'm cooking for gluten-intolerant people what can I substitute for the Burghul and bread?

    1. Hi Anonymous, I haven't tried to make these gluten free myself so I can only speculate. You could perhaps substitute the burghul with brown rice (I recommend not rinsing after cooking to maintain the starchiness)? And use gluten free bread to make your own breadcrumbs? Please let me know how you end up making them and I'll share it with any other gluten free readers. Good luck! :)