Meat Free Monday One day a week can make a world of difference

Swedish Meatballs and Gravy

Linda Soper-Kolton
  • Serves: Makes 20-24 small meatballs
  • Preparation: 20
  • Cooking: 60
  • Ready: 80

A delicious twist on a classic Swedish dish using eggplant and white beans to create the meatball texture.


For the meatballs

  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  •  1 small onion, finely chopped, about ½ cup
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  3 large garlic cloves, minced, about 1 tablespoon
  •  1 cup old fashioned oats
  •  2 cups plain or panko breadcrumbs, divided
  •  ½ cup walnuts
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
  •  ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  •  ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 (15.5-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

For the gravy

  •  ¼ cup vegan butter
  •  ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  •  3 cups vegetable broth
  •   cup nutritional yeast
  •  2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  •  1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  •  2 teaspoon Dijon or yellow mustard
  •  ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  •  1 cup unsweetened, plain non-dairy yogurt

To Serve

  • sautéed spiralized vegetables, like zucchini, cooked noodles, or mashed potatoes
  • chopped parsley, for garnish


To make the meatballs, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the eggplant is translucent and very soft. Add garlic in the last couple of minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. If you have a small food processor, this next step should be done equally in two batches. In a food processor, pulse together the oats, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, walnuts, salt, allspice, nutmeg, and black pepper. Add the white beans and process until combined. Transfer the eggplant to the food processor, scraping in any brown bits in the pan, and pulse until everything is combined. The mixture should be fairly well-blended but retain some texture. Set the pan aside for making the gravy.

Spread two tablespoons of oil on the parchment. Place the remaining 1 cup of breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Using a tablespoon or portion scoop, shape the mixture into balls approximately 1½ inches in diameter. Roll each one in breadcrumbs and arrange on the baking tray. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the meatballs are firm and crispy on the outside.

While the meatballs are baking, make the gravy. Melt the butter in the eggplant pan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the broth and stir until smooth and thickened. Stir in nutritional yeast, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, and salt. Gently simmer over medium-low heat until the gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in yogurt. Taste and add more salt if you like. Transfer meatballs to the pan and spoon gravy over them. Cook gently for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Additonal notes

Recipe courtesy of Linda Soper-Kolton from the cookbook Compassionate Cuisine: 125 Plant-Based Recipes from our Vegan Kitchen (Skyhorse Publishing, 2019). Photo credit: Alexandra Shytsman.

Compassionate Cuisine is produced by Catskill Animal Sanctuary based in Saugerties, New York. The Catskill Sanctuary also run a mentor programme New Leaf. The New Leaf Vegan Mentor Program combines the proven effectiveness of one-on-one mentor relationships, the power of superior online matching technology and knowledge gained from a successful vegan-mentoring pilot program to help people commit to vegan living.

“There are so many ways to make a vegan meatball. Lentils, mushrooms, nuts, seitan, or tempeh–any of these ingredients make for a delicious and healthy, meat-free meatball. In this recipe, we use eggplant and white beans to introduce yet another way to enjoy a more compassionate version of a classic favourite. The distinction between Italian-style and Swedish meatballs is mainly in the sauce. Italian meatballs are served in a tangy tomato sauce whereas Swedish meatballs are finished in a rich gravy made with sour cream or plain yogurt. The Swedish version tends to be a milder, gentler comfort dish, perfect to cosy up to on a cold winter’s night. As the Swedes say, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothes, so as a nod to their origin, our Swedish meatballs have a heavy coat of breadcrumbs. We like the way it helps them stand up to the luscious, rich gravy–and maybe it keeps them warm, too. To serve, you can choose to go with classic pairings like mashed potatoes or noodles or try a lighter approach and use spiralized zucchini (raw or quickly sautéed in a pan). This recipe makes a large batch, perfect for a gathering of friends and family. If there are fewer mouths to feed, set aside extra meatballs before adding them to the pan with the gravy and freeze them for up to 3 months. Extra gravy can also be frozen for up to three months.”

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