Swedish nonmeatballz, carrot mash, gravy and nan’s quick pickle

This vegan meatball recipe borrows flavours from Bettina's Scandinavian ancestry. Served with a smooth carrot mash and some quick pickles, this is a hearty dish fit for a midweek feast. This recipe is from Happy Food by Bettina Campolucci Bordi, published by Hardie Grant. Images by Nassima Rothacker.

First published in 2018

My passport is Danish, my father Norwegian and I grew up in Sweden. I have been influenced by Scandinavian culture and flavours my whole life. This is an old Swedish classic with a plant-based twist, topped off with my grandmother’s quick pickle. Truly, this is comfort in a bowl.




Vegan meatballs

  • 75g of brown rice
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 6 tbsp of tamari, or more if you'd prefer saltier meatballs
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 240g of black beans, from a tin or a jar (good-quality shop-bought), drained
  • 60g of oat bran, (check these are gluten-free if necessary)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp of grapeseed oil, or olive oil

Quick pickle

Carrot mash


  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 tbsp of tamari
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour, Bettina uses Maizena
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 375ml of coconut milk

To serve


  • Food processor


Start by cooking the rice following the packet instructions
In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, thyme, 3 tablespoons of tamari soy and the mustard. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is nice and tender. Once cooked, take off the heat and set aside
In a food processor, add the onion mix along with black beans and pulse. Don’t overmix but blend until you have a sticky consistency
Empty into a bowl and add the oat bran, cooked rice and remaining 3 tablespoons of tamari and give it a good mix
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and with a small or big ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of mixture and gently roll until you have a round shape
Place them on the paper and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook them
To make the pickle, slice the cucumber thinly on a mandolin or use a cheese slicer. Add the slices to a bowl, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good mix and set aside
Next, make the carrot mash. In a large pan, boil the carrots until soft, then drain. Add to the blender with the coconut milk and blitz until you get the most beautiful orange mash. Add salt and pepper to taste
For the gravy, heat the olive oil and fry the shallots until nice and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tamari, cornflour and sugar. Take off the heat and slowly add the coconut milk, a little at a time, to create a roux, whisking to avoid lumps
Put the pan back on the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes until you have a lovely shiny gravy, then set aside
Heat the oil in a medium pan and cook the balls until they have a lovely crispy outside but are still nice and soft on the inside (5–10 minutes on each side should be enough). If preferred, bake the meatballs in an oven set to 200°C/gas mark 6 for 20–30 minutes, util crisp outside
Now let’s put everything together. Put the mash on a plate, followed by the gravy, then the meatballs and serve with quick pickles, mixed greens and, if you have them, some lingonberries
First published in 2018

Bettina was born with a passion for food. Brought up across several cultures by a Norwegian father and Danish-Bulgarian mother, cooking has remained a constant pleasure in Bettina’s life.

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