When you hear “Sweden”, what do you think? The tunes of ABBA? The ubiquitous designs of H&M? Or do you, like many people, envision IKEA, with their colourful home decor and mouth-watering Swedish delicacies? Swedish meatballs have become a symbol of our national cuisine – comforting, filling, reassuring. And now, also available to plant-based foodies.
IKEA rolled out their veggie-balls a few years ago, to cheers of celebration from vegans and vegetarians everywhere, and it was clear that even the classics could do with a plant-based update. The veggie balls were a hit, and are now a permanent fixture in most IKEA restaurants. My plant-based “meatless meatballs” are every bit as tasty – and simple to make. I accessorised them with other Swedish must-eats: gravy, potatoes and lingonberry jam.
The traditional Swedish way to serve meatballs is with boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, pickles and cream sauce. And don’t worry, of course that last one is vegan in my version!
A note on tricky ingredients: if you can’t find lingonberry jam, you can easily swap it out for another red berry jam that’s more zesty than sugary – but it’s really important that you don’t exclude it. The combination of sweet and savoury is one of the things that makes this dish unique and delicious.
Ingredients – 4 portions:
For the veggie balls
1 cup dried green lentils
½ cup Basmati rice
½ cup pre-cooked chickpeas
2 tbs cornstarch
1 vegetable broth
1 garlic clove
White pepper, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, basil or other spices by choice
Dairy-free butter for frying
3 cups plant-based cooking cream
2 tbs dairy-free butter
1 tbs cornstarch
1 vegetable broth
1 tsp Chinese soy sauce
Lingonberry jam (or other jam of your choice)
Peel and cook the potatoes.
To make the veggie balls, start by boiling the green lentils with vegetable broth, garlic, basil and spices. Meanwhile, boil the rice in a different pot. The reason I use different pots is that the green lentils usually need a little more time than the rice.
When both pots are ready, mix the lentils and the rice together with cornstarch and put the mixture in a bowl in the fridge to cool down.
While the mixture is in the fridge, make the cream sauce. To avoid lumps, melt the dairy-free butter in a frying pan and use a whisk to stir the melted butter with the cornstarch. Whisk until the mixture is completely smooth, then add the plant-based cooking cream, vegetable broth, soy sauce, basil and white pepper. Stir on low heat.
When the lentil- and rice mixture is cold you can start making the veggie balls. I like to add mashed chickpeas to give them a chunky texture.
You can always add more cornstarch if the texture isn’t firm enough.
The rice is also an ingredient that I use to make it easier to shape the veggie balls. It was actually a tip that I got from Mike, the guy behind the Instagram account Veganflexzone (if you´re not already following him, check him out!).
Fry the veggie balls in dairy-free butter and serve together with potatoes, cream sauce, lingonberry jam and pickles.
Enjoy your meal, or as we Swedes would say, smaklig måltid!
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All photos by author