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Juicy vegan meatballs and gravy

Growing up, my mum would make rissoles with gravy, and sometimes I was even allowed to have them on buttered crumpets. I miss those days. Lately, I’ve been thinking about recreating them with tempeh to give them a juiciness that tofu or grains cannot.

After much experimentation, I’m pleased to report that these vegan meatballs are juicier than real meatballs. In fact, they’re so juicy you might not even need the gravy but if you’re missing the meat, the gravy will help you through it. This dish is also really quick and easy – there’s barely any prep involved, which makes it great for a weeknight meal.

Chickpea flour and a few spices are what gives vegan gravy the meatiness it needs. I first came across it about six years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since.

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Juicy vegan meatballs and gravy
Serves 2

For the meatballs
2 slices of gluten-free vegan bread, crusts removed and finely crumbled
1 brown onion, grated
300g organic plain tempeh, grated
4 sprigs of thyme, stems discarded
2 tsp nutritional yeast
Pinch of salt

For the gravy
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/4 tsp smoked sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.

Mix the crust-less bread and grated onion. Let sit for five minutes before adding the tempeh, thyme, nutritional yeast and pinch of salt. Mix until combined and shape into meatballs.

Cook in the oven for 15 minutes before flipping and cooking a further 10 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and add garlic, cumin, powdered stock and paprika. Stir to avoid spices catching on the pan and once fragrant, add the chickpea flour. Continue to stir to avoid it catching. After a minute or two, add 1/2 cup water and whisk to remove the lumps. While whisking continuously, add the next 1/2 cup water as it thickens, and repeat for the last 1/2 cup water. Once it has reached the consistency of gravy, turn off the heat and stir through 2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce. Season to taste.

Serve meatballs in bowls with steamed carrots and pour gravy on top.

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