Vegan Swedish Meatballs

It’s been a little quiet on Strawberry Pepper lately, as we’ve been busy with graduate school and things (I know, right?), but I promise you the wait was well worth it for these delicious meat-free balls. This recipe is adapted from a non-vegan version, courtesy of one of a good friends: my Swedish friend Emil. When I told him that I had started a vegan cooking blog with my sister he said, “make swedish meatballs! …oh wait, those aren’t vegan.” I told him to send me a recipe and I’d make a vegan version. But folks, it wasn’t so easy to just change the ground beef to ground seitan. I had to decode the Swedish recipe, including figuring out what a msk is, that zanzibar red head is clove, what a ‘gul’ onion meant, and so on… My detective skills (*cough cough* the internet) prevailed, and a scrumptious americanized and veganized adjusted recipe resulted.

I made the dish for a dinner date with my friend Jess, I served the swedish meatballs with their traditional pairings: over garlic mashed potatoes, with a cream sauce and a sour cherry sauce, balsamic roasted asparagus on the side. Okay, traditionally a ‘råröda lingon’ or sour lingonberry sauce is served. Raw lingonberries are hard to find in the US, so one could substitute a tart cranberry sauce, or find a nice jar of sour cherry spread at whole foods like I did.  Though I broke the cardinal rule of hosting by making something brand new, adapted from an unknown source, it made for the perfect dinner that resulted in a most perfect evening. The company was pretty good too.

Swedish meatballs are spiced with a delightful array of spices: nutmeg, allspice, and clove. As they sat baking in my oven, my apartment filled with the most delightful savory smells (making Jess and I really hungry). The strong, sweet, nutty, earthy spices meld together in just the right amounts to make for a delicately flavored veggie meatball.

Swedish Meatballs
about 3 dozen

1 lb seitan
3/4 cups bread crumbs
3/4 cups soy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 yellow onion, small dice
1 tbsp earth balance margarine
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten, extra if needed
1 egg replacer egg
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp clove
1/2 tsp ground pepper, or to taste
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 ºF
1. Grind the seitan in a food processor, set aside in a large mixing bowl.
2. Combine the bread crumbs, soy milk and vinegar. Set aside for about 10 minutes until the bread crumbs are soft.
3. Meanwhile, melt the earth balance over the skillet on medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, not browned.
4. Add the bread crumb and milk mixture to the ground seitan, along with the cooked onion, 2 tbsp wheat gluten, the egg replacer egg, nutmeg, allspice, clove, pepper and salt. Mix until evenly combined.
5. If the mixture is holding together well shape into golfball sized balls. If the mixture is too wet add some extra breadcrumbs at this time, or some extra wheat gluten so that the “meatballs” hold their shape.
6. Place on a greased parchment lined baking pan. Bake at 325 ºF for 25 minutes, flipping half way through.
7. If desired, you can fry the baked meatballs in some olive oil or butter to get a nice browned surface. This is an completely optional step.

Cream Sauce

2 tbsp earth balance margarine
2 tbsp flour
1 cup soy milk + 1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable broth
dill (optional)
pinch of salt

Melt the butter over a low-medium heat and add the flour. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. When toasty brown add the curdled soy milk and vegetable broth. Whisk until smooth. Add the dill and salt to taste. Whisk occasionally and let sit on stove until thickened slightly.

Enjoy this non-traditional version of a traditional scandinavian dish!


9 thoughts on “Vegan Swedish Meatballs

  1. These are so cute! Reminds me of the Ikea meatballs, I used to love them! It’s good to know that Swedish meatball hope is not completely lost. The vegan ones look just as good 🙂

  2. Yum! I love swedish meatballs, and I’m sure the vegean twist on it was tasty. I’ve never used soy milk to make cream sauces. Do you have to do anything to make the texture right or does it work like milk/cream (heat to thicken)?

    • Soy milk isn’t a perfect substitute for cream sauces, because it has a lower fat content and doesn’t thicken quite as easily. The roux helps, and if you let it sit for awhile it will thicken more.
      There are other ways of making vegan cream sauces. Some use cashews–by blending cashews in water (sometimes soaking them first) with a high powered blender, which is also a delicious option.

  3. I searched for the vinegar in the ingredients list but need to know amount and type of vinegar. Suits my tongue buds, I am sure, especially after raising your mother in the Twin Cities where there’s a Scandinavian on every street corner.

    • Hi nano! The vinegar is used to curdle the soy milk to make it more like cream. You will see it listed next to the soy milk.
      I used apple cider vinegar, but a white vinegar would also work. What you want to avoid is strongly flavored vinegars, e.g. balsamic or red wine vinegar.

  4. Those look delicious! Of all times I’m out of seitan. oy! Definitely going to try this out. Hope it’s as good as it looks.

  5. Pingback: » Phantasm Lights! Camera! Vegan!

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