Meatball Vegetable Pie

Most kids have issues with eating enough vegetables, but growing up in a family with a huge garden where we grew and preserved most of what we ate, I can't ever remember not liking vegetables.  Maybe that's because of all the delicious ways in which they were prepared, or maybe it was because homegrown just tastes better, or perhaps it was because I was part of the planting, growing, harvesting and preserving of the produce even as a young child.  This recipe is one I loved as a kid and we considered it a special treat because it was not something often made.  It requires a good bit of work to prepare but in my opinion, is well worth the effort.  I usually double up on the veggies and meatball preparation and freeze so that the next time I make this dish, all I have to do is make the crust and use the frozen ingredients that have already been prepared.)

Meatball-Vegetable Pie

Flaky Pastry (Recipe Below)
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup of soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of marjoram leaves
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 egg slightly beaten
2 Tablespoons of milk
2 Tablespoons of cooking oil
1 pound can of stewed tomatoes 
1 Tablespoon of corn starch.
2 beef bouillon cubes
Mixture of your choice of vegetables 

(Note:  Use whatever vegetables your family enjoys. I typically use corn, potatoes, carrots, and lima beans, but you can be creative with this recipe.)

Prepare flaky pastry.  

Sift together 2 2/3 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon of salt into bowl.  Cut in one cup butter until mixture is crumbly.  (I use my food processor to blend butter with flour.  Blend just until mixture is crumbly, then pour into a bowl to mix with water)    Sprinkle with 7-8 Tablespoons of ice water.  Mix with fork until dough forms.  Divide dough in half.  Roll out half on floured surface and line 10 inch pie plate.   

Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, marjoram, pepper, egg, and milk in a bowl.  Mix well.  Shape into meat balls. (I use my food processor to make my bread crumbs and then add the parsley, marjoram, salt, and pepper and mix.  I then dump this mixture into a bowl containing ground beef.  Next I chop my onion in the food processor. before adding to the bowl.  Finally I add my egg and then mix thoroughly with my hands.)

 Brown meatballs in hot oil in skillet.  Pour off the drippings. (Note:  Ground beef makes it's own grease and because of this, I am always hesitant to use oil in the skillet when I make my meatballs.  However, the use of a little oil in the skillet will help to keep the meatballs from sticking.  Heat the oil just a bit before starting your meat balls for best results.  I start on a medium heat and then reduce to a lower heat to cook them through.  When making meatballs, I always make a double batch and freeze some.  Of course, I eat several immediately because homemade meatballs are so delicious.)

Combine some of the tomato liquid with cornstarch.  Add corn starch mixture, tomatoes and bullion cubes to skillet.  Cook, stirring until it boils.  (Note:  I try to use as much home grown as possible and don't like using bullion cubes.  Instead of using stewed tomatoes, I used home canned, whole tomatoes minus the liquid and a approximately a cup of concentrated, homemade beef broth which I thicken and stir in with the veggies after par boiling them.  You can blend your tomatoes in your food processor before using them or just mash them slightly a fork..)  Stir in veggies.  (I par boil to make sure they will be done since I use veggies that take longer to cook such as potatoes,carrots and limas.  If you are using veggies that tend to cook faster, you probably don't need to par boil them.)

Arrange meatballs in pie shell.  

Pour veggie mixture over all. 

 Roll out remaining pastry.  Adjust top crust, flute edges and cut vents.

Bake in 400 degree oven 15 minutes.  Reduce  heat to 350 degrees.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.  

All the butter in the crust makes this savory pie delicious and a recipe you will want to master and make your own.  It lends itself to many variations.  Experiment and find the combination your family likes the most.

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