meatball stew | kift’it gu shirwah

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For the tomato sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter *
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, medium diced
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup minced light-green and white green onion parts (from about a bunch of green onions)
1/2 cup medium grain rice (e.g., Calrose)
1/2 cup packed minced parsley (from about 1/2 bunch)

To finish the stew:
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 cups boiling water
1 green bell pepper, large dice
2 small or 1 large unpeeled zucchini, large dice


  1. Make the tomato sauce: Place a 4 to 8 quart stockpot over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook the onions, stirring every minute or two, for about 8 minutes until they lightly brown.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 12 minutes, until the tomatoes start to fall apart.
  3. Make the meatballs: While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare the meatballs: combine the ground beef, salt, pepper, minced green onions, short grain rice, and minced parsley. Shape the meatballs into about 25 small balls (about the size of ping pong balls).
  4. Finish the stew: Add the lemon juice to the diced tomatoes, return the heat to high, and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the meatballs to the tomatoes, top with the 2 cups of boiling water, cover and simmer for 2 minutes without stirring.
  6. Gently stir the meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Gently stir the meatballs, cover with the bell pepper and zucchini, reduce heat to low, and cook for another 15 minutes. The dish is done when the vegetables are soft and the meat and rice have cooked through to the center of the meatballs.
  8. Adjust the seasoning and serve. If you eat some left over the next day, you should stir about 2 to 3 tablespoons of additional water into each serving immediately before reheating (let it sit for about 2 minutes, stir, and then serve). The rice absorbs a lot of the moisture overnight.


* Substitute olive oil to make this dairy free.