These Vegan Gluten-Free Swedish Meatballs were inspired by my recent trip to Stockholm.
Beautiful fairytale-like buildings in Stockholm old town’s main square
Stunning view of Stockholm’s old town from the city hall
Espresso House in Hornstull
More pretty buildings in Gamla Stan
Enjoying the gorgeous view from Skinnarviksberget
What I loved most about Stockholm, other than the beautiful buildings, stunning views and insanely efficient public transport, was how it was so easy to escape from the polluted and noisy bustle of city life. A quick tram or bus ride takes you to the tranquil island of Djurgården. There is a pedestrian-friendly all the way around the island, a leisurely walk along which takes 3-4 hours.
Whilst walking along this path, you can enjoy views of vast stretches of ocean that seem to continue forever, clusters of birch trees, carefree boats, and wooden cabins – peaceful scenes of the Scandinavian seaside that reminded me so much of one of my favourite films, Roy Andersson’s A Swedish Love Story.
As for the food, the best restaurant we visited was definitely Österlånggatan 17 located in the old town.
They had these delicious-looking Swedish meatballs served with buttery mashed potatoes, creamy gravy and some ligonberry jam and pickled cucumber on the side:
But unfortunately I couldn’t have them because there were dairy products in basically all components of the meal. I didn’t miss out on too much though, because I had the most delicious steak I’ve ever tasted instead.
I did, however, decide to make my own Swedish meatballs at home, and to be more all-inclusive, I made these vegan and gluten-free! Being inspired to make vegan versions of dishes I’ve been unable to eat in restaurants seems to have become my thing lately….
These meatballs are pretty easy to make – just whizz together some lentils, onion, garlic and basic seasonings in a blender, form into little balls using an ice cream scoop and bake in the oven.
Meanwhile, make the gravy and mashed potatoes, both of which can be very easily made without butter, cream and regular gluten-filled flour. If you want to make it extra healthy, you can use celeriac instead, which can be boiled and mashed in much the same way as potatoes, and the finished product will have a very similar texture.
Visually, if not also gastronomically, I feel that the lingonberry jam makes the dish worthy of being called Swedish Meatballs as opposed to just regular meatballs with mash. But because I don’t live within easy reach of lingonberries, I used cranberries instead, which are recommended as a sensible substitute by Simon Bajada in his cookbook Nordic Light, which I recently wrote about for The Independent. I made this cranberry sauce with coconut sugar to make it refined sugar free too, but you can use whatever sweetener you fancy.
These meatballs are the perfect hearty yet healthy dinner, especially for autumn and winter, which unfortunately definitely feels like it’s looming over us right now.
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 200g Puy lentils, cooked (according to instructions on packet) and drained
- 6 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if gluten-free)
- Optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 500g potatoes, peeled and diced
- Splash of almond milk
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- 150g fresh or frozen cranberries (or lingonberries if you can find them)
- 5 tablespoons coconut sugar (or sub sugar or any other sweetener), to taste
- Bunch of flat leaf parsely, finely chopped
- Start by making the cranberry sauce - add the cranberries to a saucepan with the sugar
- Leave to cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the cranberries have lost their shape and the liquid has thickened
- Once done, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool
- Make the meatballs - preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onions and garlic once hot. Fry for around 5 minutes, until the onions have softened slightly
- Add the cooked onions and garlic to a blender with the lentils and breadcrumbs and salt + pepper Blend until smooth
- Use an ice cream scoop (or a spoon and your hands if you don't have one) to form the meatball mixture into little balls and place these on a greased baking tray lined with baking parchment
- Repeat for the rest of the mixture
- Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown
- Meanwhile, make the mashed potatoes - place potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover
- Bring to the boil and turn down heat, leaving potatoes to cook for 15-20 minutes until soft (test with a fork, they should be easy to pierce)
- Once cooked, drain the potatoes, add almond milk and salt + pepper and mash until smooth
- Make the gravy - add almond milk, mustard, soy sauce, nutritional yeast and black pepper to a saucepan and bring to the boil
- Place the cornflour in a separate bowl with a small amount of water and mix to make a paste
- Add this cornflour paste to the gravy once it is boiling and stir gently until it becomes thicker
- To serve, place the mashed potatoes on a bowl with the meatballs, pour over the gravy, add a dollop of cranberry sauce and scatter over chopped parsley
- If you don't need the gravy to be gluten-free and don't have any cornflour, another way to thicken the gravy is to heat up 3 tablespoons olive oil in the saucepan and then add 1 tablespoon plain flour and mix well. Then add the almond milk and mix well again