Looking for an amazing meat-free dinner idea? “I’ve found the solution to missing meatballs! Inspired by my love of Swedish meatballs, this was the closest to them that I could get. They have depth of flavour, crunch and texture and are simple to make.” says plant-based chef Bettina Campolucci Bordi. 

Makes 8 big ‘meatballs’ or 14 small ones


  • 75g brown rice
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 6 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 240g black beans from a tin or jar (good-quality shop-bought), drained
  • 60g oat bran
  • 3-4 tbsp grapeseed oil or olive oil


  1. Start by cooking the rice following the packet instructions.
  2. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, thyme, 3 tbsp of tamari soy and the mustard. Cook for five minutes until the onion is nice and tender. Once cooked, take off the heat and set aside.
  3. 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 tbsp of tamari soy and give it a good mix.
  4. Line a baking tray (or baking sheet) 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 to the paper until you are ready to cook them.
  5. Heat the oil in a medium pan and cook the balls until they have a lovely crispy outside but are still soft on the inside (five–ten minutes on each side should be enough). The ‘meatballs’ go really well with sweet potato mash, pasta or just plenty of veg.

Tip: These can be pre-rolled and stored in the fridge for up to seven days or until you want to cook them. These can also be baked in the oven. Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF/Gas 6) and bake for 20–30 minutes until you have a lovely crisp outside. If you are coeliac, make sure the oats are gluten free.

Recipe extracted from Happy Food by Bettina Campolucci Bordi (Hardie Grant, £20). Photography © Nassima Rothacker

Articles you might like

Leave a Reply