Almond balls

(vegetarian meatballs for the people)

We’re an almost exclusively vegetarian household. My girlfriend is vegetarian you see (or actually a recent convert to Pescetarianism, so fish if back on the menu, yeiij!). This has led me to develop a lot of  vegetarian alternatives through the years, which has been really great. I’m not especially fond of the concept of mimicking meat. Soy meat, quorn, oumph, pulled oats, beyond meat… I mean, I get it. If people like it: cool. I’m just sayin’ that the best of that kinda thing I’ve ever had has never been anywhere close to the meat equivalent. Often, they just feel like attempts to create a vessel for heavy spicing.

I like when you try to use unprocessed stuff and make something different but equally great. Like portabello hamburger, or black been tacos, or carrot and parsnip burgers. Or: almond balls. So let me get the irony out of the way. Yes, they look a lot like meatballs. Yes, they kinda taste a bit like meatballs. But they’re not meatballs. And they’re made from scratch.

The challenge when making vegetarian alternatives to burgers or ball-shaped things is consistency. It’s real easy to make something that sticks together if you’re fine with the end result being dry and dense and boring. It’s equally easy to make something juicy that’ll fall apart. I think this recipe strikes a real good balance, but it can take a while to get a hang of the nuances. I got the gist of this recipe from my girlfriends mother (something akin to this Swedish recipe I think), but I’ve tinkered with it quite a lot through the years.

Some of the ingredients are cooked before going into the batter and the balls are boiled in broth before being fried in the pan. All this adds up to a really juicy and rich end result. The consistency can be tricky however. But practice makes perfect so let’s practice!

Special Equipment

  • Kitchen wizard/ Blender/ Immersion blender
Created with Sketch. 60 minutes Created with Sketch. 5-6 servings (or ca 40 almond balls)

Ingredients

  • 125 galmonds
  • 150 gmushrooms (any mushroom really, I use forrest champinjons)
  • 150 ggouda cheese
  • 1.5 yellow onions (about 150g)
  • 100 gcarrots
  • 50 gbutter
  • 25 gChinese soy
  • 40 gbread crumbs
  • 10 gpotato flour (or normal flour)
  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 4 eggs (or 5, depending on the size)
  • 5 gsweet mustard
  • Some sriracha
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the broth
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 carrots
  • Bay leaves, salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Put a big pot with 3 liters of water on the stove. Peel and roughly chop 2 onions and 2 large carrots and add them to the pot. Add salt, pepper and bay leaves. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Don’t salt to much as it will reduce somewhat. The end result should be a quite lightly salted broth.
  2. Chop the mushrooms and add them to a pan with ca 2/3 of the butter and some rapeseed oil. Start out on high heat, then lower to low/medium. Add salt, white pepper as well as the mustard and some Sriracha. Let this fry for 10-ish minutes before adding one chopped yellow onion.

  3. While the above is frying on low heat (under a lid if you have it), quickly boil the almonds in water (like a minute). Rinse the almonds under cold water. Now peel the almonds….. I know. Fun. Two things: 1) You can skip it and just use them with the peelings. 2) Alternatively, put the almonds in a colander and take handfuls of almond and squeeze them together over and over. This removes most of the peels and really makes the whole thing a lot more bearable.
  4. Crack the eggs (all four) in a mixer (or in a bowl if you’re using a immersion blender), then add the almonds. Mix to a paste. The consistency varies with the size of the eggs and the type of mixer. If it’s a bit loose, don’t worry. You can either add some more almond now (not too much thou, less than 50g) or adjust the consistency at the end (see instruction number 11). The important thing is the the almonds are properly chopped/blended.


  5. By now, the mushrooms and onion should look something like this.
  6. Add it to the egg-almond-mix and blend it a bit.

  7. Peel and finely grate the carrots. Squeeze out the carrot juice. You can throw away the juice, or save it. Or drink it. Grate the cheese finely. Add the grated carrot and cheese in with the rest and stir.
  8. Rip up the bread into small pieces (or dice it with a bread knife). If the edges of the bread are hard, don’t use them. Put the pieces of bread in with the rest, add the soy sauce, the vinegar, the bread crumbs, the potato flour and some salt and pepper. Stir together.
  9. At this point, you can add whatever. Making these for Christmas? Add som allspice why don’t you? Or maybe som fresh parsley, some chili or basil? Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, soy, vinegar and/or other things to your liking. The level of salt and such should be as you want the end result to taste.
  10. The consistency should now allow you to make quite firm balls from the mix. Like such:
  11. If you think it’s to dry: add another egg. If it’s to loose: add some bread crumbs and/or flour. Roll a lot of balls with a diameter of about 3 cm. “Quite small meatballs” to ball-park it for you.
  12. Now we’re going to boil the balls in broth before frying them. Sift the broth to remove the onion and carrot pieces. Put a frying pan with some butter and oil on medium/high heat. Bring the sifted broth to a boil and add 10-15 of the almond balls. Let them simmer in the broth for ca 3 minutes before adding them to the frying pan. Be careful as the can be quite fragile. Turn them gently after a minute. Continue to turn them in the pan until brown all around. Repeat.


  13. They’re best as they’ve cooled down a tad but not too much, so eat them promptly!

These are really great as a vegetarian alternative to meatballs but they’re also just awesome in general. We usually have them with what’s on the plate in the first photo: mashed potatoes, sweetened lingonberries and garlic sauce. Mmmmmmm.

Get the hang of the consistency, add some of your favorite flavors and make’ em your own!

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