Ah, meatballs....I love meatballs. There is something so hardy, so satisfying, so versatile about the meatball. And I am sufficiently lazy enough to not make my own. There are so many different brands of frozen meatballs to choose from, that I see no point in wasting precious time gathering all the ingredients, mixing said ingredients, forming the balls, and then browning them. Most days I am pressured for time, so just let me cut open a bag and throw them into a pan to brown. As my younger students would say, "Easy, peasy. Lemon squeezie."
This recipe is for a wonderfully hearty, flavorful stew that totally hits the spot on a cool evening. We like to eat it just about any season, even in the summer. Although this is baked in the oven, we don't mind the extra heat in the kitchen. We have central air, so I am priveleged to cook whatever my little heart desires. And my heart (and belly) desire this dish frequently. At this point I have 9 (yes, that may be a bit of overkill) Farm Journal cookbooks, and this recipe has appeared in at least 4 of them. That should be your first clue as to how good this is!
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. frozen meatballs (or you can make your own favorite recipe)
1-2 TBS. oil
3 TBS. flour
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried crushed basil
3 or 4 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes (wash but don't peel)
1 1/2 to 2 cups baby carrots
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery sliced
Brown meatballs in oil in a large hot skillet. Remove to a 3 quart casserole and drain all but 3 TBS. of fat from skillet. Blend in flour. Add tomatoes and water and stir out any lumps. Stir in rest of the ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Pour over the meatballs in the casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until veggies are tender.
Notes:As I said, "Easy, peasy." Instead of using a skillet, I did this in my dutch oven, first on top of the stove and then into the oven. I didn't put the meatballs on the bottom. I just mixed it all together. Rolls and a salad and total meatball Nirvana. Enjoy!