This is one of my favorite recipes from Laurel's Kitchen, excluding their bread recipes, of course. I am part Swedish, and my Swedish grandmother used to make Swedish Meatballs for us. That was the only Swedish food I remember eating....ever! So, after I went veg and I found this recipe, I had to try it.
This recipe is not veganizable. Though I did try. I made Hibi some bean balls, without any gravy. She took one bite and said "yuck." So I won't tell you how I made those--if you want to try, let me know how it goes, and the recipe if it's good!
I almost always serve these with mashed potatoes, though noodles are good too (and easier). Serve alongside a green salad, or cooked kale or chard.
Swedish Bean Balls
1 1/2 cups cooked, well-drained beans (you could buy canned, but they're *so* much better if you cook them yourself! You can even cook them the day before and then put them in the fridge, which is what I did this week)
1 cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 slice whole wheat bread, soaked in milk or water
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs or cooked brown rice, if needed
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 350.
Mash beans with potato masher, processor, or meat grinder. Saute onion and bay leaf in oil in a large skillet until the onion is golden. Remove about 1/4 cup of the sauteed onion with a slotted spoon and add it to the beans along with lemon peel and lemon juice. Squeeze all the liquid out of the bread (save it for the gravy) and work the bread into the mashed beans along with egg, thyme, spices, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. (Omit salt if beans were already salted.)
If you have time, chill the mixture; it's easier to shape the balls when cold. If it seems too loose, add the dry bread crumbs or rice to stiffen it. Form 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, until balls are dry and firm.
Meanwhile, make the gravy. Stir flour into reserved sauteed onions and cook, stirring, until flour starts to brown. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and milk and water. Cook over medium-high flame, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to boil and thickens. Reduce heat to low and simmer another 7 or 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove bean balls from baking sheet and place in the skillet, spooning gravy over them. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before serving; they need time to soak up some gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes or ribbon noodles.
Makes 12 balls, to serve 4.