Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
For the meatballs:
Pour the milk over bread and soak to soften.
Place the meat in a mixing bowl and add the cheese, EVOO, fennel, crushed red pepper, garlic, egg, parsley, salt and pepper.
Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and crumble into crumbs as you add it to the meat. Combine the meatball mix and roll into 2-inch balls. Place the meatballs on nonstick baking sheet sprayed with olive oil spray and roast until browned but not fully cooked, 10 to 12 minutes.
For the stew:
Meanwhile, heat the EVOO in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions and bay, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant. Add the beef stock and tomatoes, then break up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Add the basil, potatoes and meatballs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat back to medium, partially cover and cook 10 minutes. Add the green beans and cook 7 to 8 minutes more.
Serve, or cool completely and store for make-ahead meal. Reheat over a medium-low flame, partially covered, stirring occasionally (or reheat in a 325 degree F oven) until sauce is bubbly.
To serve, top shallow bowls of stew with cheese and an extra drizzle of EVOO.
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray