I finally worked out a new recipe for Swedish Meatballs that’s soy-free and can be made gluten-free as well by subbing gluten-free breadcrumbs. Plus, it’s chock-full of different protein sources and ripe for variation to Italian-style or other versions.
There’s quite a few sub-steps, I admit, but they can be done at the same time without too much trouble, and you end up with about 25 of these suckers once they’re out of the oven. I wanted to see how different ingredients would lend both texture and flavor, and used items I had on hand. I might up the onion content in subsequent batches, but I think they turned out pretty well (and they got the “meaty” approval vote from my ladyfriend – not that I believe all “meat substitutes” necessitate a meaty flavor, but Swedish meatballs made out of porridge and vegetables wouldn’t really cut it, you know?).
Due to its rather moist and fragile “raw” state, I didn’t try frying these as a form of preparation, although I imagine that could be carefully done too. The breadcrumbs were added to soak up some of the moisture, which I’m sure could be replaced with some kind of flour if you don’t have breadcrumbs handy. They hold their shape well when baked, and crumble into big chunks when you dig your fork in
These are great in the traditional-style, served with creamy gravy, lingonberry sauce, and dill-boiled potatoes, or in the American-microwave-dinner-bastardization version involving pasta (?!) and cream sauce. (To be honest, I ate it both ways and they were both good.)
Vegan Swedish Meatballs (makes about 25)
1 c walnuts
1/2 c millet
1/3 c red lentils
2 c water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 c mushrooms, chopped (portobella or cremini work especially well)
1/2 c onions, diced
splash of red wine (optional)
1 tsp marmite
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg or mace
Preheat the oven to 350F. Toast the walnuts for 8 minutes, or until lightly toasted and aromatic. Let cool, but keep the oven on.
Meanwhile, cook the millet and lentils together in the water with a pinch of salt. Cook, covered over low heat, until the water is absorbed and the millet begins to stick together (about 20 minutes).
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and sauté the onions and mushrooms until soft and muhrooms have released their juices. Deglaze with a splash of red wine if desired. Blitz in food processor until fairly smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Place onion-mushroom mixture in a mixing bowl and return the food processor bowl.
Grind the toasted walnuts in the food processor until finely ground, but be careful not to turn it into a paste. Add this to the mixing bowl, along with the rest of the ingredients, and combine with a spatula until thoroughly mixed. Let rest for a few minutes.
Using a cookie dropper and wet hands, scoop walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Place on a lightly oiled or parchment-lined sheet pan (you can spray the tops with additional oil if desired). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then turn and bake 15 minutes more.