There’s something very appealing with the coming of Autumn and a turn from bright sunny Mediterranean flavours (generally my preference) to a more Scandinavian cosy vibe. To me, it suits darker evenings and jumper wearing temperatures.
I’ve tried many times to recreate the classic Swedish meatballs (aka ‘Ikea Meatballs’!), mustard cream sauce and mash but often just missed the mark. This version, on the other hand, is totally spot on. The ‘meatballs’ made of a mix of red lentils, mushrooms, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and have a great ‘bite’ to them as well as a wonderfully savoury umami flavour with hints of the deep dark forest. The texture, whilst clearly being nothing like a meatball made of meat has a toothsome feel and enough texture that they don’t just crumble into dust!
Dairyfree cream sauces can also be tricky to get right, they often have a slightly sweet flavour which is a little unnerving in a savoury context, also reduction sometimes doesn’t have the same effect as with dairy versions. But I have the answer, a simple veloute (like a bechamel but made with stock rather than milk) is made creamy by a good dose of the cream – resulting in a perfect silky texture and creamy taste with plenty of mustard umph.
We all really devoured this dish, although the girls were suspicious of the cream sauce – if you’ve been dairyfree for your entire life it’s not really surprising that you don’t ‘get’ creamy textures! I’m going to preserve though, this will definitely be one for the regular repertoire this winter.
Vegetarian Swedish ‘Meatballs’
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)
makes about 15, serves 4-5
1 1/2 cups cooked red lentils
200g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme or herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
2 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Henderson’s Relish is a great veggie alternative)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp English mustard powder
1 tbsp cornflour
- Gently fry the onion, mushrooms and garlic with the herbs and chilli flakes until soft, fragrant and starting to turn golden
- Place in a food processor (or simply mix together in a bowl for a chunkier texture) and add all the other ingredients. Pulse until well combined and fairly smooth.
- Using damp hands roll into even sized balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with a little extra oil and then put in the fridge to firm up.
- Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes
Meanwhile, make the garlic, mustard cream sauce:-
Mustard Cream Sauce
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)
1 tbsp dairy-free margarine
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp flour
20 ml white wine
100ml vegetable stock
1 pack dairy-free cream (250ml)
1-2 tbsps Dijon mustard
- Melt the margarine, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not coloured
- Add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes
- Over a medium heat stir in the wine and again cook out, stirring to make sure the sauce/paste is smooth
- Pour in the stock and stir to make a smooth sauce, next stir in the cream. Stir or whisk to ensure a smooth, silky sauce.
- Add mustard to taste
Serve 3-5 ‘meatballs’ with creamy mash, greens of choice and the mustard cream sauce.