This is the perfect stew for a cold winter night. All you need to add is some crusty Italian bread for a wonderful supper.
2 1-inch-thick slices hard Italian bread
1 14-ouncepackage meatless ground beef (I like to use Lightlife® Gimme Lean®)
½cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 large clovesgarlic, finely chopped
5tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, cut into thick ribs
¾poundgreen beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 28-ouncecans Italian whole peeled tomatoes, squeezed with your hands to crush
10 large fresh basil leaves
Place the bread in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Drain the bread in a colander and press out as much water as possible. Turn into a large bowl. Add the ground “beef,” ¼cup of the chopped parsley, one-fourth of the chopped garlic, the egg, 1teaspoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands or a spoon. Taste for seasonings. Roll heaping tablespoons of the mixture into about 16 balls. Set aside on a platter or cookie sheet.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped garlic, the onion, green beans, potatoes, remaining chopped parsley, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have released some of their juices. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the water, basil, bay leaves, and oregano. Stir well to mix. Cover and cook at a medium boil (it will reach a boil after about 5 minutes) for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with olive oil spray. Heat the skillet over the medium-high heat. Arrange the “meatballs” in the heated skillet without crowding them too much. Brown each side for about 2 minutes, then transfer them to the cookie sheet. Carefully lower the “meatballs” into the sauce, using a wooden spoon to gently push them into the sauce to cover. Cover and cook for 20 minutes without stirring, then stir gently to mix, trying not to break up the “meatballs.” Taste for seasonings.