Loaded with vegetables, meatballs, Italian spaghetti sauce, and spices, this vegetarian Italian stew is hearty enough to warm up any cold winter day. This is a recipe that you will make again and again, and like most stews, this comforting, colorful bowl of goodness is even better the next day, if you have any leftovers.
The spaghetti sauces developed from basic tomato based sauces that were used in a variety of Italian dishes. One of the sauce's best qualities is its ability to be combined with various spices to create interesting flavors. While there are many various brands of spaghetti sauces available on the market, and a wide array of recipes, the same basic ingredients are used.
The use of tomato sauces dates back to the Aztec civilization where it was an important part of the their cuisine. Originating in the area of Peru, The tomato was a very easy and delicious plant to grow in that area. The Aztecs called it xitomatl, in the language of the Aztec people, which is still in use today.
The date of the arrival of the tomato in Europe was in the year 1540, when the Spaniard Hernán Cortés returned home and brought some specimens. The popularity of the tomato eventually spread across Europe where it was known to be an aphrodisiac in France. The French described the tomato as pomme d'amour, or apple of love. It is even still called apple of love in parts of present day Italy and Sicily. In England, there is an old story that if Queen Elizabeth would have given Sir Walter Raleigh his way, tomatoes would have been baptized as apples of love. The tomato sauce like many other sauces, developed out of necessity as a method to mask the taste of spoiling foods.
One of the more popular spaghetti sauces here in the United States is the Ragu spaghetti sauce. It was invented by the Cantisano family of Rochester, New York. It is the best selling pasta sauce in the United States. Ragu is now owned by Symington's, a company based in the United Kingdom.
Vegetarian Italian meatball stew (6 servings)
- 9 ounces of vegetarian burger crumbles, or 4 vegetable burgers ground in food processor
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup of oats
- 1/2 cup of matzo ball mix or matzo meal
- 1/4 cup of tomato juice
- 6 carrots, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 27 and 1/2 ounce jar of tomato and mushroom spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup of water
- Mix the vegetarian burger crumbles with the eggs, oats, and matzo ball mix.
- Shape into 12 meatballs.
- Place the carrots, celery, and onion into a large cooking pot.
- Add the tomato juice, garlic powder, tomato and mushroom sauce, and water, mixing well.
- Add the meatballs and baste with the sauce mixture.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.