Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs and Gravy


Recently I came across a recipe for vegetarian Swedish meatballs and my mouth started watering. I’ve never had the real thing, but I imagine they’d be delicious. This recipe, however, didn’t have the traditional allspice and nutmeg included, so I moved past it and searched for other versions.

Ultimately, I ended up adapting a non-vegetarian recipe, one called The Best Swedish Meatballs from the new-to-me blog, The Recipe Critic. I replaced the ground beef with a mixture of wild rice, cremini mushrooms and cauliflower, then added a little ricotta for richness (you could also use Greek yogurt). To save time, I purchased already-cooked wild rice, which you can find in either cans or pouches. Just make sure it’s all wild rice, not a blend including other types of rice.

But the gravy is what makes this dish truly special. Oh, the gravy! Luxurious, I tell you, with unexpected oomph from Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard. Quick and easy to make, whip it up while the meatballs are baking.

You certainly can eat the meatballs and gravy on their own, but served over mashed potatoes or egg noodles makes a complete, comfort food meal—perfect for a cold winter’s day! Enjoy!


Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs and Gravy

Adapted from The Recipe Critic

Meatballs:
2 cups cooked wild rice

1 ½ cups chopped mushrooms, cremini work well—nice and meaty

3 cups cooked cauliflower florets

½ cup ricotta cheese or Greek yogurt

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

Olive oil spray or olive oil

Gravy:
4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups vegetable broth (I used Edward & Sons Not-Beef Bouillon Cubes)

½ cup milk or half-n-half

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (the Annie’s brand is vegetarian)

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pulse 1 ½ cups of the wild rice, the mushrooms, and cauliflower in food processor until blended, but with some texture left. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining half cup of wild rice. Add the ricotta or yogurt, onion, eggs, bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, allspice, white pepper, nutmeg, and 1/8 cup of the parsley. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Roll 1 ½ – 2 tablespoon portions of mixture into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a #30 cookie dough scoop, which worked perfectly. Spritz balls with olive oil spray or brush with a little olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan at the halfway point.

Meanwhile, make gravy. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter and flour. Whisk until it turns light brown. Slowly stir in broth and milk. Add Worcestershire and Dijon mustard and bring to a simmer, whisking until gravy starts to thicken. Season with a little salt and pepper, to taste.

Add cooked meatballs to the skillet and simmer for a couple minutes (you’ll have leftover meatballs). Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Makes about 4 servings.

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Wild Rice Patties

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A few times in the twenty-some years since going vegetarian, I’ve ordered something in a restaurant and was certain they made a mistake and gave me meat. And then I felt really guilty because it tasted so good. Fortunately, it’s always turned out to actually be vegetarian.

This happened again recently with a wild rice melt when we stopped for lunch on our way back from the cabin. There’s a restaurant in Duluth, MN that from the outside looks like an old Ember’s (which years ago, it was), but there are vegetable and herb gardens in the parking lot and, once inside, you find yourself in an eco-friendly, organic, local food oasis, that still looks like an Ember’s. The Duluth Grill does comfort food right, and makes sure that vegetarians and gluten-free diners have almost as many choices as everyone else.

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A wild rice melt caught my eye on the menu—pretty much a patty melt, but with this wild rice burger. I asked our server if it was vegetarian and she hesitated for a few seconds and then said yes. That worried me a bit. When I took my first bite, a moment of panic—the flavor and texture was so meaty, but after a thorough inspection, I breathed a sigh of relief—no meat! And man oh man, this was good—I couldn’t get it out of my mind. A few days later, I Googled it, thinking I might find a recipe for a similar wild rice burger and lo and behold, I found THE recipe. The Duluth Grill recipe. Seems they have a cookbook and a couple excerpts were included in a newspaper article about the book. Pretty sure I actually squealed with delight.
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After making the recipe a couple times as written, I decided on a few tweaks that made it a little healthier, but just as tasty. These sturdy patties make a great burger on a bun, can be broken up and scattered over a salad, and my favorite way—patty melt style, grilled on bread with some gooey cheese and fried onions. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Patties

Adapted from the Duluth Grill Cookbook

½ cup old fashioned (not quick) oats, toasted

3 cups cooked wild rice

½ cup diced mushrooms (I used cremini)

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup mayonnaise (vegan Mindful Mayo works well)

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

½ teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

¼ – ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, depending on the level of heat you like

Place oats in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. In a large bowl, mix together oats, wild rice and mushrooms. Stir in eggs, mayo and yogurt. In a small bowl, combine pepper, salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, cumin and red pepper flakes. Stir seasonings into wild rice mixture.

Place mixture in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. When oven is hot, using a ½ cup measure, scoop a heaping cup of mixture and form into a patty about an inch thick. Place patty on parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining mixture, for a total of six patties.

Bake 40-45 minutes, flipping patties about half-way through baking time, until golden on both sides. Serve as you would your favorite burger.

Creamy Cauliflower Wild Rice Soup

 

Soup above

Yep, another soup recipe. Just can’t help myself—it is soup season after all! This recipe came about after we returned from a cabin trip to some cauliflower and potatoes that were soon to hit the far side of prime.

The trip was wonderful, with fall colors stunning on the way there. Even at the cabin, where a lot of the vibrant leaves were gone, there was color—scarlet sumac and dogwood, bright golden tamaracks, and I never realized how beautiful the leaves turn on the wild rose bushes along the shore. No matter the time of year, you can always find color to make a bouquet! And the chives were still thriving so I was able to bring home a bagful.
BouquetBouquet in vaseFire and rose bushes

Otis came along and while it was jacket weather for us, he still loved playing in the frigid waters of Lake Superior! He’s getting a little better at quieting his excitement on the drive there and back too, but he’s not quite there yet. He definitely brings a different level of fun though!

Otis in Lake Superior

Otis by cabin

Fall and winter get me craving a wild rice soup spiked with sherry, which seemed good compliments to the must-use-soon veggies. Shallots and garlic provide a flavor boost, along with creaminess from your milk of choice (buttermilk, skim, almond, cashew, evaporated—whatever floats your boat), and a comforting meal is born. Add a fall-themed salad such as this and some crusty whole-grain bread and your lunch or dinner is complete. Enjoy!

Soup side

Creamy Cauliflower Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter

½ cup sliced shallots

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

½ head cauliflower, cut into 1” pieces

2 medium gold or red potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup milk (buttermilk, skim, almond, cashew, evaporated—your choice)

2 cups cooked wild rice

2 tablespoons dry or medium dry sherry

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped chives and additional wild rice, for garnish

In a stockpot, melt the butter or heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook for several minutes. Add the garlic and cook about another minute. Stir in the cauliflower and potatoes and cook for about two minutes. Add the wine and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has pretty much cooked off. Add the vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup until it is completely smooth (alternately, cool soup a bit and purée in a blender, in batches, and return to pot). Over low heat, stir in the milk, wild rice, sherry, and salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped chives and a bit of wild rice. Makes four meal-size servings or six appetizer servings.

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Chickpea salad with tomatoes and avocado
On Wednesdays there’s a small farmers’ market in our neighborhood. Right on my way home, it has become a regular stop after work. A couple of firsts of the season today, sweet corn and tomatoes. Although we’d been patiently waiting, I was a bit surprised to see both. The tomatoes were deeply red and quite large, which made me question how they could be local. The friendly vendor explained they certainly were, but greenhouse-grown; in soil, as opposed to hydroponically. She assured me they’d be just as flavorful as the ones grown outdoors we’d be seeing at the market next month. A sample proved she wasn’t exaggerating! Tomatoes bursting with that taste of late summer I wasn’t expecting in July.

My wheels were spinning and in my mind those tomatoes were sliced, salted & peppered, and topping off a splendid summer sandwich. How convenient that right in front of me was the Grateful Bread stand! Out of River Falls, Wisconsin (with no website I could find to link to), they make delicious breads with unique ingredient blends. Last time I bought a loaf that included spent grain from the beer brewing process at River Falls’ Rush River Brewing Company. Today it was a whole wheat that included quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, flax seed, oats, rye, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Fresh and soft, perfect for a sandwich.

Lately I’ve been putting lots of farmers’ market veggies to use in a chickpea salad. It’s sort of tuna salad’s hippie vegetarian cousin. Mashed chickpeas, onion, radishes, garlic scapes (when I can get them), fennel, hot peppers, cabbage, and celery seed. A versatile salad, you can use whatever you have on hand beyond the chickpeas. It’s all mixed together with salt, pepper and a little mayo (once again, I’ll mention the outstanding and vegan Earth Balance Mindful Mayo—so, so good!), but, if you’re mayo-averse, you could use Greek yogurt or a mixture of mashed avocado with a little lime juice in its place.
Chickpea salad on crusty roll

On a crusty roll or good quality bread with peppery arugula and sliced ripe tomatoes, this is a meal of a sandwich. Or for a gluten-free option, spoon some chickpea salad on top a bed of wild rice. Finish it off with avocado slices or maybe some micro greens. Enjoy!
Chickpea salad on wild rice

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 1 can, rinsed and drained

½ cup chopped white or sweet onion

2-3 garlic scapes, chopped

3 radishes, diced

1-2 fennel stalks, chopped (or one celery stalk, chopped)

½ cup shredded green cabbage

1 tablespoon chopped hot pepper (jalapeño or hot cherry peppers work well)

¼ teaspoon celery seed

A couple tablespoons mayo, Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado sprinkled with fresh lime juice

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Topping options: Arugula, lettuce, avocado, tomato, micro greens, sunflower seeds

Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add onion, scapes, radish, fennel, cabbage, hot pepper, and celery seed. Mix to combine. Stir in mayo. Season with salt and pepper and mix again.

Serve on crusty rolls, good quality bread, or a bed of wild rice. Makes about 4 servings.

 

 

Wild Rice Stuffed Delicata Squash

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Over the last couple days the seasonal color palette has changed from the earth tones of fall to the reds, greens, silvers and whites of Christmas. The front stoop décor of pumpkins and corn stalks has been compost and replaced with dogwood branches and pine boughs. The tree is up, the stockings placed, and we’ve turned the switch from autumn to winter. There’s even snow in the forecast this week, right on cue.
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Fall was bid goodbye in fine fashion though, with several Thanksgiving parties filled with family, fun and food, as all holidays should be! We had two dinners Thanksgiving day—one early afternoon at Pete’s brother’s with the Schneider’s and again that evening at our house with my parents. My evening menu came together somewhat on the fly, but turned out great! I had two delicata squash sitting on the counter and had just purchased some Minnesota wild rice and figured the two would go together nicely.
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The skin of delicata squash is thin and totally edible, so you don’t have peel it or scoop the squash from the skin when eating–nice! The seeds are smaller than those in pumpkins, butternuts or acorn squash, but they are still delicious roasted. After scooping them from the squash, clean them up and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Roast, spread out on a cookie sheet, at the same time as the squash and give a stir now and then. Unlike the larger seeds I’ve roasted, these little seeds start popping when they’re done and can end up all over the bottom of your oven, so pull them out once you hear that happening, which will be after about 20 minutes.
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A salad and a hearty homemade bread rounded out our meal, with a rustic apple-pear galette and vanilla bean ice-cream topping things off.
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Wild Rice Stuffed Delicata Squash

1 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed well
4 cups vegetable broth or water
2 medium delicata squash
Sea or Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ large yellow onion, chopped
A couple handfuls dried cranberries
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A handful of chopped pistachios
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Placed rinsed wild rice in a large saucepan and add broth. Bring to a boil, boil one minute, then reduce heat, cover and simmer about 45 minutes, until rice is tender. Drain and return to saucepan.

Meanwhile, cut each squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds (roast seeds with a little extra-virgin olive oil and salt—delicious!). Rub or brush each squash half all over with olive oil and sprinkle the inside with a little salt. Roast, cut side up, for about 30 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven.

Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in skillet until warm. Add minced garlic and stir for one minute. Add onions. Stir occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until translucent, sprinkle with salt. Add onion and garlic to cooked, drained wild rice, along with dried cranberries. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste and give a final stir.

Stuffed squash halves with wild rice mixture, really pack it in and mound as much as you can. You’ll probably have some rice remaining. Bake stuffed squash halves for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with pistachios during the last couple minutes of baking. Slice each squash half in half or thirds and serve. Enjoy! Serves 6.