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Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables

Mar 23, 2021

Nothing makes me happier than a traditional, Norwegian dinner. That usually involved boiled potatoes and gravy, with some type of vegetables. There is something so comforting, simplistic, and hearty about it that truly evokes the flavor of ‘home’ for me.

I realized I have posted recipes for meatballs on my blog before, or as we call them in Norway, kjøttkaker, but I’ve never shared a recipe for karbonader, which is slightly different. The traditional karbonader typically don’t include additions of eggs and milk like kjøttkaker do, and they are served with minimal additions. Karbonader are leaner than kjøttkaker, that of course has a lot to do with the type of animal-based meats that are added.

Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables on a plate
Karbonader can be said to be more modern Norweigan fare. Interestingly enough, historically, Norwegian “husmannkost” (a word for classic Norwegian everyday dinners/dishes) did not have a lot of meals based on ground meat.

This ingredient is something we have taken from other cultures and is also a result of increased wealth among its citizens and more sophisticated technology, as Norwegian food mostly consisted of lacto-vegetarian fare in the past. I’m reading a book called “Den Kultiverte Maten” (The Cultivated Food) by Virginie Amilien and Erling Krogh which talks about Norwegian food, culture, and food culture. If you read Norwegian, I highly recommend it!

But I digress…

Since I no longer cook with animal ingredients, I wanted to experiment with some of the many excellent vegan substitute ground plant-based meats that are now available on the market. I chose Beyond Meat Beyond Beef as well as the Awesome Grounds by Sweet Earth. These are two of my favorites, and whenever I make meatballs or a meat-based pasta sauce with these, my husband (who is not a vegan) loves it and can’t tell the difference.

Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables

If you are not a fan of using store-bought vegan meats, you can always substitute sauteed mushrooms, lentils or beans, and add in some onion, chopped nuts, and breadcrumbs to create texture.

The options are endless, and as long as you add in the typical flavorings of a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg, you’ll be good to go. I do believe that adding some type of breadcrumbs (I like panko as it creates a fluffier, lighter karbonader) to add some texture to the meat patties.

What I love about karbonader is their versatility: You’ll just as often see them as toppings on open-face sandwiches and served for lunch, brunch, or on ‘koldbord’ s (our smorgasbord) at festive gatherings such as confirmations, birthdays, 17th of may celebrations and Christmas “julebord”, as you will at dinner. You can eat them at room temperature or warm.

They freeze well so you can make a huge batch, put them away and just take them out when you’re ready for a flavorful, hearty meal.

Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables

I chose to serve mine with mashed peas to celebrate the start of spring which is happening this week (at the time I’m writing this article). I also like to add a variety of root vegetables or other vegetables I had leftover from the previous season that I cook in a white, roux-like sauce. In Norwegian, we call it stuede grønnsaker and it’s a very classic side dish.

You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand: cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, or anything else—use your imagination!

Finally, I added a simple, but flavorful gravy recipe for you because to be Norwegian is to love gravy—on every dinner! Just kidding…You certainly don’t have to make gravy for the meal to be delicious if you want to save yourself the trouble. I love mushrooms for their depth of flavor and texture so I added that to the gravy but there is no need if you prefer a straight-up sauce.

Another almost mandatory side dish is boiled potatoes… I added that to my plate, but didn’t think you needed a recipe for it 🙂

You can also serve mashed potatoes or any other mashed vegetables.

Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to give these karbonader a go, even if it’s just to make them alone and put them atop of your sandwich or on your burger bun—with the caramelized onions on top they are amazing!

I paired my meal with an American Pinot Noir from Monterey, California called “My Pretty Pinot” which is certified organic, earthy, soft, juicy, and light on its feet. It was the perfect companion to my karbonader.

For more on wine pairing suggestions with plant-based meals, head over to my other blog Sunny Gandara

Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables
 

KARBONADER

Serves 6

16 oz (453 grams) Beyond Meat Beyond Beef or other vegan ground meat
12 oz (340 grams) Sweet Earth Awesome Grounds or other vegan ground meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large Vidalia onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 cup (119 grams) panko or other breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Thaw the vegan ground meat, crumble it up and place it in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat a small saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and thyme with a pinch of salt, and saute for 4-5 minutes until onions become soft and translucent.

Transfer to the large bowl with the ground vegan meat and add in the remaining ingredients. Using your hands, combine the ingredients well.

Scoop out a small test ball and saute it in a pan to taste if it needs additional seasoning. Adjust accordingly.

Using a spoon, scoop out even size portions and shape them into balls, then gently flatten with your hands. I like to use a fork to make 2 or 3 marks on the patties to create extra texture.

Place the patties on a sheet tray and continue with the rest of the mixture.

Heat up a large saute pan or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add additional olive oil, and saute the karbonader a few at a time, about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown on both sides.

Place them back on the sheet tray and keep in the oven at about 200° Fahrenheit (100° Celsius) while you continue making the sides.
 

CARAMELIZED ONION

2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
Salt to taste
pinch of sugar

In a medium saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat, add in the sliced onions with the sugar and salt and saute for 1-2 minutes while stirring.

Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onions, stirring every once in a while until they are golden brown and appear caramelized, about 20 minutes. Set aside.


 

MASHED PEAS

4 -6 servings

12 oz (340 grams) peas, shelled if fresh, thawed if frozen
½ cup (100 ml) vegetable broth or nondairy milk
1 tbsp butter
1 ts salt
1 ts sugar

Gently simmer the peas in the broth or non-dairy milk for about 2 minutes, then add the butter, salt, and sugar, and puree using a stick blender. Adjust seasoning as you wish, and set aside.
 

STEWED VEGETABLES

Makes 6 servings

1 leek, trimmed and sliced thin (white and light green parts only)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small celery root, peeled and cubed small
1 small turnip, peeled and cubed
1 medium parsnip, peeled and sliced
½ cauliflower, divided into small florets

For the white sauce:
2 tablespoon vegan butter
3-4 tablespoons flour
4 dl non-dairy milk
Salt to taste
1 tsp nutmeg

Boil the sliced and cubed veggies lightly in plenty of salted water until al dente, drain and set aside, then make sauce/roux.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, sprinkle in the flour while whisking for a minute or so to ‘cook the flour’. Don’t let the mixture get brown, this is a white sauce!

Pour in the non-dairy milk in a steady stream while constantly whisking, then season with salt and nutmeg.
When the mixture thickens, bring it to a boil, then add the cooked veggies and reduce to a simmer. Let it cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Taste and adjust for seasoning, keep warm until ready to serve.
 

MUSHROOM GRAVY

2 ounces (½ stick or 60 grams) butter
1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
8 ounces (226 grams) mixed wild mushrooms (like shiitake, oysters, button, or portobello)*
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart (1 liter) vegetable or mushroom stock
5 tablespoons soy sauce
salt, pepper to taste

*mushrooms are optional but I find they add a nice flavor and texture to the dish

Start by sauteing the mushrooms separately with a little butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper (throw in a sprig or two of thyme if you want some added flavor). Set aside.

In a separate saucepan, heat up the butter over medium heat, add in the onion with a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes until onions start to soften.

Sprinkle in the all-purpose flour and whisk together well until all the lumps are gone and the flour is ‘cooked’. Add in the soy sauce, whisk well, before slowly pouring in the vegetable or mushroom stock.

The gravy will thicken as you go – keep cooking for about 5-10 minutes, add in the reserved mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper.

Keep warm until it’s time to serve. Add more water or stock if necessary to keep the desired consistency.

To assemble the dish:
Place 2-3 karbonader on the plate, top with a little of the caramelized onions and a serving each of the mashed peas and stewed vegetables. Drizzle the mushroom gravy over the karbonader and serve with boiled potatoes as well if you wish.

Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables

More Recipes To Try…

Karbonader with Caramelized Onions, Mashed Peas and Stewed Vegetables

Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Karbonader

  • 16 oz (453 grams) Beyond Meat Beyond Beef or other vegan ground meat
  • 12 oz (340 grams) Sweet Earth Awesome Grounds or other vegan ground meat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large Vidalia onion peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 1 cup (119 grams) panko or other breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Caramelized Onions

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 large Vidalia onion peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • pinch of sugar

For the Mashed Peas

  • 12 oz (340 grams) peas, shelled if fresh, thawed if frozen
  • ½ cup (100 ml) vegetable broth or nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the Stewed Vegetables

  • 1 leek trimmed and sliced thin (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 small celery root peeled and cubed small
  • 1 small turnip peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium parsnip peeled and sliced
  • ½ cauliflower divided into small florets

For the white sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 dl non-dairy milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

For the Mushroom Gravy

  • 2 ounces (½ stick or 60 grams) butter
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion minced
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) mixed wild mushrooms (like shiitake, oysters, button, or portobello)*
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart (1 liter) vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

To Make the Karbonader

  • Thaw the vegan ground meat, crumble it up and place it in a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, heat a small saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and thyme with a pinch of salt, and saute for 4-5 minutes until onions become soft and translucent.
  • Transfer to the large bowl with the ground vegan meat and add in the remaining ingredients. Using your hands, combine the ingredients well.
  • Scoop out a small test ball and saute it in a pan to taste if it needs additional seasoning. Adjust accordingly.
  • Using a spoon, scoop out even size portions and shape them into balls, then gently flatten with your hands. I like to use a fork to make 2 or 3 marks on the patties to create extra texture.
  • Place the patties on a sheet tray and continue with the rest of the mixture.
  • Heat up a large saute pan or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add additional olive oil, and saute the karbonader a few at a time, about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown on both sides.
  • Place them back on the sheet tray and keep in the oven at about 200° Fahrenheit (100° Celsius) while you continue making the sides.

Prepare the Caramelized Onions

  • In a medium saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat, add in the sliced onions with the sugar and salt and saute for 1-2 minutes while stirring.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onions, stirring every once in a while until they are golden brown and appear caramelized, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

For the Mashed Peas

  • Gently simmer the peas in the broth or non-dairy milk for about 2 minutes, then add the butter, salt, and sugar, and puree using a stick blender. Adjust seasoning as you wish, and set aside.

For the Stewed Vegetables

  • Boil the sliced and cubed veggies lightly in plenty of salted water until al dente, drain and set aside, then make sauce/roux.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, sprinkle in the flour while whisking for a minute or so to ‘cook the flour’. Don’t let the mixture get brown, this is a white sauce!
  • Pour in the non-dairy milk in a steady stream while constantly whisking, then season with salt and nutmeg.
  • When the mixture thickens, bring it to a boil, then add the cooked veggies and reduce to a simmer. Let it cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  • Taste and adjust for seasoning, keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Mushroom Gravy

  • *mushrooms are optional but I find they add a nice flavor and texture to the dish
  • Start by sauteing the mushrooms separately with a little butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper (throw in a sprig or two of thyme if you want some added flavor). Set aside.
  • In a separate saucepan, heat up the butter over medium heat, add in the onion with a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes until onions start to soften.
  • Sprinkle in the all-purpose flour and whisk together well until all the lumps are gone and the flour is ‘cooked’. Add in the soy sauce, whisk well, before slowly pouring in the vegetable or mushroom stock.
  • The gravy will thicken as you go - keep cooking for about 5-10 minutes, add in the reserved mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Keep warm until it’s time to serve. Add more water or stock if necessary to keep the desired consistency.

To assemble the dish:

  • Place 2-3 karbonader on the plate, top with a little of the caramelized onions and a serving each of the mashed peas and stewed vegetables. Drizzle the mushroom gravy over the karbonader and serve with boiled potatoes as well if you wish.

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