Wednesday, October 03, 2012

vegan mofo ::
sweet-ish meatballs

Vegan Swedish Meatballs, made with sweet potatoes and tempeh [And yes, the plate is from Ikea]

Following through with my Vegan Mofo theme, Back to Basics, today's recipe is brought to you by my old favorite, tempeh, and by the seasonal and fabulously frugal sweet potato.

One thing I adore about tempeh is its longevity, so when it's on sale or when I have a coupon, I stockpile with abandon. Noticing that a package from my tempeh stash was about to expire, I spied a bowl of cooked leftover sweet potatoes in the back of the 'fridge and was determined to create a recipe using them both.

My new kitchen cabinets came from Ikea, and I've spent more time there – returning things and buying organizational items – than I care to admit. Not surprisingly, all things Swedish must be buried deep in my subconscious. The idea to make [no]meatballs with the famous Swedish spicy gravy popped into my head faster than you can say "jag prater inte svenksa" ["I don't speak Swedish"].

I'm pleased with the resulting recipe and think I'll be making this often: the sweet potato makes a wonderful, starchy binder, and the subtle sweet flavor from the potatos and onion pairs perfectly with the lightly spiced gravy. Using white pepper is traditional, but to be honest, I don't notice much of a difference between black and white pepper. Use whatever you prefer.

Incidentally, I know I've said it before, but my kitchen is almost done. I've probably tried about 30 new tile samples so far, and some new samples should be arriving in today's mail; I'm taking my time to ensure I feel 100% comfortable with my tile choice: a backsplash is a serious commitment.

Sweet-ish Meatballs [vegan]

Vegan Meatballs:

  • 1 8-ounce package tempeh
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potato, slightly mashed with a fork*
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs [I used panko]
  • Salt and pepper, preferably white pepper, to taste
  • Up to 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • Oil or cooking spray for browning meatballs


  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper [You can substitute black pepper]
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Makes about 36 [no]meatballs

Steam tempeh for about 10 minutes to remove bitterness. When it's cool, crumble into a bowl, and combine with meatball ingredients and just enough non-dairy milk to allow balls to stick together.

Roll into 1-inch balls and brown in batches of 10-12 over medium heat, turning occasionally to ensure all sides are cooked. This should take about 15 minutes per batch.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, combine broth and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Make a slurry by whisking together milk, cornstarch and flour. Whisk into boiling broth, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook over low, whisking occasionally until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with pepper and stir in parsley.

Serve meatballs topped with gravy.

* To cook sweet potatoes, boil 1-inch chunks for about 10-20 minutes, or until soft. Or nuke in in the microwave until soft.

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VeganFling said...

Yum, I used to make swedish meatballs all the time. These sound great!

Mel said...

Wow, they look amazing and I love the sound of the ingredients! I'm adding this one to my bookmarks.

Anonymous said...

yummmers! looks and sounds so good I have to make these "meatballs"!.

I've been wanting to know, which brand of refrigerator did you get? I love the freezer on the bottom and fridge on top combo.

Linda Watson said...

Looks terrific! Fellow Babylon 5 fans will remember G'Kar saying that Swedish meatballs were the one food that every planet had. Now we know how they make them on Planet Vegan! Here's the clip

urban vegan said...

Hi Anonymouse: I got the Whirlpool Gold. So far, I absolutely love it. Tons of room. Ironically, with the pie cookbook photo shoots, it has been filled to the gills. But it's designed very intuitively and is easy to clean. I love the auto icemaker and water dispenser.

urban vegan said...

Linda: Too funny! Planet Vegan, I think is a book by Robin Robertson.

foodfeud said...

They look awesome! I love sweet potato in just about anything, and tempeh, so they sound great. Definitely making them once mofo settles down!

Suburban Snow White said...

I don't think you can go wrong with sweet potatoes and tempeh. :) Well done.

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Jared said...

I am the same with tempeh, stockpiling it like a mad person when it goes on sale, and as a result always looking for new ways to use it. This is so great as I'm just breaking into the fall harvest and craving sweet potatoes. I've always loved meatless meatballs and now have a reason to make my own. Thanks for the recipe! Glad to hear all is coming along with your kitchen, the previous photos make it appear so clean and contemporary.

dreaminitvegan said...

I'm all for new veg ball recipes!

Emily said...

Thanks for posting a tempeh recipe as tofu and seitan seem to get all the vegan love these days. I also appreciate that tempeh seems to never go bad--how is that even possible?

Anonymous said...

I'm Swedish and I love your post and I'm definitely trying these "meatballs". Thanks for posting.

By the way, your Swedish sentence should be "jag pratar inte svenska" to be correct in Swedish. ;)