Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs

I found this recipe for Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs on Pinterest and then someone else sent it to me a few days later, so it was added to the dinner rotation for the week. As I'm nearing the point of having been a vegetarian longer than I was not, Swedish meatballs are yet another thing I've never actually tried. Regardless, this vegetarian version was delightful. The gravy was so good, I plan to make it again to use in other recipes, the meatballs were firm and held up to both the cooking process as well as being covered in the gravy. I added the cranberry sauce as was recommended (traditional Swedish meatballs are served with lingonberry sauce). 

Recipe from Joy the Baker

For the Meatballs
-3 cups cooked lentils 
-1/4 cup sautéed mushrooms
-1/4 cup onion, finely diced
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
-1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
-1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, plus MORE to taste
-1 cup panko breadcrumbs
-2 large eggs
-1 cup part-skim ricotta
-1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
-1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
-olive oil, for topping

For the Gravy
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
-3 tablespoon finely diced onions
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
-3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
-1/3 cup heavy cream
-salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
-1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme and/or fresh sage
-1 cup sauteed mushrooms

For Serving
-Cranberry sauce (whatever recipe you'd like to use)
-Mashed Potatoes (we just used instant)

To cook the lentils, bring 6 cups of water to a simmer. Add salt, garlic, and a wedge of onion, along with a bay leaf to the water. Add 2 cups of dried lentils and cook until the lentils are tender, which will take about 25-30 minutes. Strain the water out, and discard the garlic, onion, and bay leaf.

While the lentils are cooking, saute eight ounces of mushrooms and set them aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper

To prepare the meatballs, pulse one cup of sauteed mushrooms and the cooked lentils in a food processor. The mixture will be dry, but a little chunky. Now add the onion, garlic, fresh herbs, spices, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs.

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs until well combined. Whisk in the ricotta cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Add the wet ingredients to the lentil mixture and stir until the ingredients are evenly combined.

Use a large tablespoon to scoop the meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1-inch between each meatball. Drizzle olive oil and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while the rest of the ingredients come together.

To make the gravy, in a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the flour and whisk vigorously, allowing the butter to absorb the flour. Whisk continuously for 1 minute. Slowly stream in the vegetable broth. Add the soy sauce and reduce to medium-low heat and simmer until thickened, which will take about 5 minutes. Once the gravy has  thickened, whisk in the cream, salt, pepper, thyme, and mushrooms. Simmer once more until the gravy has thickened again (about 4 minutes). Keep the gravy warm over very low heat.

Prepare mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce in your preferred method. We made this on a Monday night and opted to just use instant mashed potatoes after all of the steps this recipe needed. I also made a quick cranberry sauce using frozen cranberries that we had on hand.

Serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, generously spoon the gravy over the meatballs and mashed potatoes. 


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