Meatball Tortellini Stew
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If you have been clever enough to stash a container of meatballs in the fridge or freezer, this fully-loaded stew can be assembled and cooked in about half an hour. Otherwise, plan an extra half hour or so to roll and brown the meatballs.
- 500 g lean ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil , or olive oil
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 4 cups beef broth , (preferably sodium-reduced)
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes , (with juice)
- 1 540-mL can kidney beans , or chickpeas (with liquid)
- 1 tsp dried oregano , crumbled
- 2 medium carrots , diced
- 2 stalks celery , diced
- 350 g fresh cheese tortellini , (not the dried kind)
- 1 284-g pkg fresh spinach , rinsed and coarsely chopped
- salt , to taste
- black pepper , to taste
- Meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper. Squish together with a fork or (clean) bare hands until well mixed (no tasting until it’s cooked, kids!). Form into 1 in. (2 cm) meatballs, rolling them between your hands so they’re nice and round.
- Place meatballs in one layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking. Remove from cookie sheet and use, immediately, in your favourite recipe, or pack into a container and refrigerate or freeze to use at another time.
- The stew: In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat. Dump in the browned meatballs, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes.
- Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Throw in the tortellini and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Finally, add all the spinach, pushing it down into the pot and cook just until the spinach has wilted into the stew – about 2 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling at the table.