Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meatball Stew and Italian Herb BEER BREAD!

In lieu of our recent "Mamma Meets the Cucina" Meatball Challenge, I have decided to officially declare February as Meatball Month!

I have so many meatball dishes to share that I couldn't use for the challenge since we were trying to showcase the meatball on its own.

So for the rest of the month, you will see more meatball recipes. The upcoming dishes are a bit more traditional, but still classics that everyone needs to try! I must admit that I'm most impressed with my new found love - beer bread.

I had originally wanted to make meatball stew after trying it at one of the indoor markets in Florence. When I returned to the states, I never gave it another thought. That is, until Dominic Condo posted his recipe on his blog and I rediscovered my craving. I created my own rendition with what I had in the house and am sharing it with you. I'm sure we will come up with several different versions in the future. One thing I'd like to try is adding red wine. But this version is such an EASY meal to prepare, and quite healthy.

Most simple Italian recipes stem from the poor regions of Italy, where they cooked with whatever foods grew regionally. I'm talking about authentic Peasant Food, which happens to be my FAVORITE way to eat Italian. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate gourmet Italian fare, but I grew up on the simple flavors of Italian cooking straight from the garden. This is one of those recipes.

So serve up a bowl with a slice of Italian Herb Beer Bread for dunking and you've got yourself a comforting, hearty Italian meal.

NOTE: Ingredients are unmeasured because this really is a dish you do by eye. Throw in the veggies YOUR FAMILY likes. If you stick with the proper liquid ratios, you really can't mess it up:)

1-2 cups each of chopped/cubed zucchini, carrots, and potatoes
1/2 large onion, minced
2 cups LOW SODIUM beef broth
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
Fresh basil
10 - 20 mini meatballs, already cooked (preferably fried!)

Saute the onions in some e.v.o.o. and add the veggies.

Coat them in the oil and let brown slightly. Season them (in the pan) with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Add the sauce/broth and stir to combine. Throw in a bunch of fresh basil for flavor (to be removed later). Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer another 15-20 minutes. The liquid will significantly reduce.

So serve up a bowl with a slice of Italian Herb Beer Bread for dunking and you've got yourself a comforting, hearty Italian meal.

3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking Powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp salt
12 z. beer

Mix all dry ingredients. Add the beer and stir (dough will be slightly wet, like a biscuit dough). Place dough in a well oiled loaf pan. Brush the top with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Once it comes out of the oven, brush the top with e.v.o.o. again and sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice.
MANGIA! And don't forget to check back for some more meatball recipes coming this month!

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