Vegetarian ‘Swedish Meatballs’ and mustard cream sauce – dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free

vegetarian "Swedish Meatballs' dairy-free egg-free

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!

vegan swedish meatball mix

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)

baked vegetarian Swedish meatballs

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

  1. Gently fry the onion, mushrooms and garlic with the herbs and chilli flakes until soft, fragrant and starting to turn golden
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes

dairy-free egg-free mushroom and lentil Swedish meatballs

Meanwhile, make the garlic, mustard cream sauce:-

Mustard Cream Sauce

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

dairy-free mustard cream sauce, 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

  1. Melt the margarine, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not coloured
  2. Add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes
  3. Over a medium heat stir in the wine and again cook out, stirring to make sure the sauce/paste is smooth
  4. 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.
  5. Add mustard to taste

To serve:

Serve 3-5 ‘meatballs’ with creamy mash, greens of choice and the mustard cream sauce.

vegan swedish meatballs nut-free

Bahn Mi Salad

 

vegan bahn mi salad bowl

I’ve had this idea of turning Classic Bahn Mi baguette filling flavours into a salad for quite a while, and now the weather has turned super hot (albeit briefly!) it’s the perfect opportunity for exciting salad eating.

In my day job, I work in two different locations, so I spend rather too much time walking the streets of the City or sitting on London buses. It does give a lot of looking out the window and contemplating opportunities, and time to draw inspiration for my recipes. Just off one of my regular bus route there are two Bahn Mi shops within meters of each other (crazy, huh!), hence my thoughts turned to recreating the classic Vietnamese hot spicy, pickled, herby flavours of  a Bahn Mi baguette into a salad.

free-from vietnamese salad, no milk, no nuts, no eggs

In this salad bowl I have marinated noodles which are topped with Sriracha roasted beans, quick pickled red cabbage, cucumber and carrot ribbons, tomatoes and plenty of coriander. It makes for a delicious and very moreish bowlful. The noodles are best prepared in advance and cope very nicely with a couple of days in the fridge if need be. Same with the red cabbage. Just make sure you put all the topping on at the last minute to retain freshness and crunch.

Bahn Mi Salad

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free vietnamese noodle salad

serves at least 4 (multiple the veg for more people as there will be plenty of noodles and cabbage)

 For the quick pickled red cabbage:

1/4 red cabbage

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp salt

  1. Massage the cabbage with the 1tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside for at least half an hour. Pour away any juice which have seeped out.
  2. Combine the water, vinegar and rest of the salt. Pour over the cabbage. Cover and leave to pickle for at least half an hour.

For the Sriracha roasted beans:

1/2 tin white beans or chickpeas

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp olive oil

A few good squirts of Sriracha

  1. Toss the beans in the paprika,oil and chilli sauce and roast in a medium oven (180 degrees) for 15-20 minutes.

For the marinated noodles:

4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

5 tbsps soy sauce

3 tbsps balsamic vinegar

3 tbsps sugar

1 tsp salt

1 pack of wheat noodles (250g) or equal amount of spaghetti

6 spring onions, finely sliced

  1. Mix together the oil, balsamic, soy sauce, sugar and salt until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside
  2. Cook the noodles or spaghetti according to the pack instructions. Make sure they are slightly undercooked and then drain and run under cold water to halt the cooking process.
  3. Mix the noodles into the marinade. Add the spring onions and set aside. Marinate for as long as possible for really tasty noodles.

For the veg:

2 spring onions, sliced

1 carrot, shaved into ribbons

1/2 cucumber, shaved into ribbons

1/2 red pepper, finely sliced

Large handful cherry tomatoes, halved

Coriander

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of marinated noodles
  2. Top with strips of pickled cabbage, roasted Sriracha beans and veg
  3. Add carrot and cucumber ribbons around the edge
  4. Top with a scattering of coriander and a few squirts of Sriracha
  5. Eat straight away

vegetarian noodle salad, Bahn Mi style

Coronation Rice Salad

dairy-free, egg-free coronation rice salad

I don’t know about you, but for us June and early July heralds peak picnic and barbecue season. It’s a quick succession of one outdoor event after another, fingers crossed for good weather (always the bane of outdoor plans in England) for Sport’s day this Friday which would be unusual for this summer!

So, I’m on a mission to perk up our picnics with some exciting additions, as I find picnics can be particularly challenging with a restricted diet. There’s none of that ‘oh I just pop into M&S and get a whole picnic spread to take to sports day!’ it’s more a case of what can I cobble together at 7am with minimal fuss and which will happily sit around in a sweaty picnic basket until lunch time – quite a tall order there!

Salads are obviously a good way of pepping up your picnic, but clearly it has to be robust and not based on delicate and easily wiltable leaves. This rather moreish coronation rice salad is based upon one I learnt at Le Cordon Bleu but with all the excessive calories and cream transformed into a light but creamy spiced dairy-free rice salad. Call it a rice based riff on the classic and ever popular coronation chicken salad.

Feel free to add in suitable extras to make more of a meal of it – blanched almonds work really well if you can tolerate them, and I particularly like mini raw cauliflower florets for an added bit of interest. If you eat chicken, some freshly shredded roast chicken would work extremely well with the rice and curry flavours.

vegan curried rice salad

Coronation Rice Salad

(Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free, dairy-free curried rice salad

serves 4

1/3 cup egg-free mayo such as Veganaise or mayola

1/4 cup mango chutney

1 tsp mild curry powder

squeeze of lemon juice

seasoning, to taste

1 cup cooked basmati rice

1/4 cup raisins

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas, cooked through and then cooled

1/4 cup blanched almonds [optional]

handful of parsley, finely chopped

  1. Mix together the mayo, mango chutney, curry powder and lemon juice. Taste and season as desired.
  2. Stir in the other ingredients and garnish with the parsley.
  3. Serve.

vegan coronation rice salad

 

Egg-free Savoury Pancakes

egg-free savoury Dutch style pancakes

Pancakes – such a great staple recipe. We often have sweet pancakes for breakfast and whilst I’ve yet to create a family friendly egg-free and dairy-free savoury crepe filling, I’ve always wanted a savoury brunch/lunch style pancake in our repertoire.
These lovely flat Dutch style pancakes are inspired by our trip to the Pancake House at Center Parcs, which for us was a total revelation. Never before (or again) have we had the opportunity of eating egg and dairy free pancakes in a restaurant!

These Dutch style pancakes are basically a fluffy pancake batter topped with savoury morsels of choice; I used a combination of veggie sausage, sautéed onion and mushroom, and fresh tomato to give a Full English Breakfast effect. Little S had normal sausage and sweet corn as Dee’s brand veggie sausages and burgers may contain nuts and she HATES mushrooms and onions! Served with a side a baked beans, these fluffy but also crisp around the edges savoury pancakes make a truly delightful lunch or brunch.

Dee’s Wholefoods kindly contacted me and asked me to review their products and perhaps produce a recipe for them. I’d say their savoury leek and onion sausages make a fantastic addition to these egg and dairy-free savoury pancakes. Their herby, aromatic flavour and pleasing texture make them a great addition to a recipe or delicious eaten alongside some wonderful roasted ratatouille and mashed potato, as shown below.

Dee's vegetarian sausages with roasted ratatouille and mash

Dee’s Wholefoods is a brand worth championing. With fully vegan credentials they produce some thoroughly delicious and interesting vegan ready meals and products. Their veg pots are particularly tasty and a great quick meal in the office or before heading out for my evening yoga class. The Thai veg pot is rich with lentils and squash and packs a real punch of flavour and (be warned!) spice! It’s a rare thing of a ready produced meal where you feel quite healthy having eaten it! Well done Dee’s you fill a space in the market with some truly tasty and inspired products, just a pity of the blanket nut warning on all.

Dee's vegan Thai veg pots

Savoury Pancakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan savoury pancakes

serves 4

250g self-raising flour, sieved

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp aquafaba (Water from a tin of beans or chickpeas)

450 ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

  1. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl
  2. Whisk in the aquafaba and milk to make a smooth batter with the consistency of single cream.
  3. Set aside for at least half an hour
  4. Heat a frying pan to medium hot, add a drizzle of oil and pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl around to coat the pan.
  5. Scatter topping ingredients* on top, drizzle over a little more batter and when the pancake is starting to look dry and crisping around the edges either carefully flip and continue to cook for about 30 seconds before flipping to serve. Or briefly place under a hot grill to finish cooking the top.
  6. Keep warm on a lightly oiled baking sheet whilst cooking the rest.
  7. *I used pieces of Dee’s veggie sausages, sautéed mushrooms and onions and fresh tomato for a full English brunch vibe.

cooking egg-free savoury Dutch pancakes

Five Ingredient Vegetarian Caprese ‘meatballs’

vegan, dairy-free pasta and meatballs

 

Meatballs on spaghetti are a perennially popular dish – children always seem to wolf them down. This vegetarian version works really well with spaghetti in a spicy tomato sauce, and adds a good dose of beany protein to an otherwise carb heavy dish.

I had a tin of canellini beans lurking around – as D jokingly calls it ‘the by product from my use of Aquafaba!!’, and I thought I’d experiment with white bean based ‘meatballs’. Although necessarily softer than a meaty version, they do get a nice crisp exterior whilst baking in the oven and the bean and breadcrumb mix is the perfect carrier of robust flavours – on this occasion sundried tomato, basil and garlic as a nod to a classic caprese salad. Besides, a recipe of five healthy ingredients which can be whipped up in minutes, you can’t complain at that!

bean balls for pasta

Vegetarian Caprese Meatballs

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

vegetarian spagetti and meatballs, egg-free

Makes 12 which serves 4

3/4 tin of canellini beans plus 2tbsp of the liquid in the tin (the aquafaba)

5 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 slice of bread made into breadcrumbs

1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped

Small bunch basil, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Whizz together all the ingredients in a food processor
  2. Using wet hands, form into balls and place on a foil lined baking sheet which has been lightly oiled
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade until golden
  4. Serve on spaghetti and spicy tomato sauce

dairy-free veggie meatballs

Gorgeous Garden Burgers

veggie garden burger, dairy-free, egg-free

Late May Bank Holiday Monday is the perfect day for barbecues and nothing fits a barbecue better than a delicious veggie burger. These are what we’re going to enjoy today, wearing thick jumpers as it really isn’t that warm or sunny!

This is a recipe that has been evolving for many a year. I’ve been trying different combinations and methods to recreate a delicious garden burger I had in a motel on Highway 1 in California some years ago. D and I were doing a little tour of California – we hired a car from San Francisco and bumbled down Highway 1 then veered off to Yosemite before heading back to San Fransisco. It was a really great trip, but my, we stayed at some random places. Some really lovely, others rather spooky (I’m thinking of an ‘English style’ B and B in Monterey which was anything but English style, more Psycho style with no locks on the doors and a feeling of being watched from the lace doilies all the time!) One place which stuck in our minds was a motel near Hearst Castle where the room was just cavernous and the sea views were enormous – far more what we expected from America, and nothing like we were used to in Europe.

It was nothing fancy and we ordered room service to fit the vibe of the place – and lo behold the room service burgers were delicious and huge. I think we left half of them! Anyway, the taste of that burger stayed with me and here is my hazy recreation (probably totally different!) – a polenta based burger spiked with sweet corn, peas, spring onions, parsley and sundried tomatoes. A real garden experience. The polenta gives a lovely crisp exterior and thanks to a little addition of aquafaba there’s no fall apart factor – hooray, at last a non crumbly veggie burger and ideal for cooking on a barbecue!

polenta, sweetcorn and pea burgers

I served these with frazzled onions and in homemade salt and pepper bagel buns with a green slaw – a combination that is thoroughly recommend, especially the frazzled onions they’re well worth the frying faff!

polenta and sweetcorn burgers

Garden Burgers

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan garden burgers, no nuts

serves 4

1 tin of sweetcorn

1/2 cup quick cook polenta

2 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp aquafaba (the water found in a tin of beans or chickpeas)

1/2 tsp cornflour

4 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp garlic powder

small handful parsley, roughly chopped

1/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 spring onion, sliced

salt and pepper

large pinch cayenne pepper

  1. In a food processor, pulse half the sweetcorn to make a puree, add the polenta, flour, baking powder, aquafaba and cornflour and pulse to thoroughly combine
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and using wet hands, form into four even sized patties. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up
  3. Fry in hot sunflower oil until golden and crisp on both sides then place in a medium oven (180 degrees C) for 10-15 minutes to cook through. Or once fried, keep in the fridge for up to three days before heating through, or freeze and defrost thoroughly before placing in the oven.
  4. Or after frying finish cooking on the barbeque.

dairy-free garden burgers, vegetarian