Oooh, I love meatball subs. And this particular version is the best. Ever.
This meal makes a monthly appearance in our home, at least, thanks to my wonderful friend, Mariann, who passed it along to me several years ago.
A surefire hit for a meal my kids and husband will devour with no complaining, these subs are filling, hearty and the flavors are crazy delicious.
The great thing is that the meatballs can be made ahead of time and the sauce is a snap to throw together and heat through.
I use the amazing and versatile French Bread roll recipe for the buns and the combination of the soft, homemade bread, creamy mozzarella cheese and out-of-this-world tender and flavorful meatballs smothered in rich tomato sauce is a meal made in heaven.
This is one of my go-to meals for company or when I am taking dinner to someone.
Just last week, I made the meatballs subs and served them with a large green salad, fresh fruit and vegetables, baked chips and a trifle dessert I’ll be posting next week that is so stunning and tasty, it’s a wonder I shared it with the guests at all (I’m quite territorial over good food, I must admit).
Italian Meatball Subs
For the meatballs:
- 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs or crushed saltines
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
To dredge the meatballs:
- 1 1/2 cups flour in a shallow baking dish
For the sandwiches:
- 1 recipe French Bread Rolls, shaped into sub rolls and baked according to the recipe
- Sliced mozzarella or provolone cheese
For the sauce:
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar (this helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together EXCEPT the meat. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes so the breadcrumbs/crackers can soak up the liquid a little bit. Add the meat and mix well with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Form golf ball-sized meatballs and dredge them in the flour until lightly coated. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through.
- When the meatballs come out of the oven, let them sit for about 15 minutes. Gently scrape off any fat and place the meatballs in a 9X13-inch baking dish (or similar size). Pour the hot tomato sauce over the meatballs.
- To assemble the sandwiches, slice the buns in half. (If desired, lay the buns flat open on a baking sheet and top one side with cheese – toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 400 degrees until the buns are toasted and cheese is melted.) Place 3-4 meatballs on each bun and top with desired amount of sauce. Serve immediately with lots of napkins.
- For the sauce, combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes on low. Keep warm until the meatballs are finished baking.
When I make these, I often prepare and bake the meatballs earlier in the day. To reheat, I place the meatballs in the pot with the simmering sauce and let them warm up together. And since I know someone will ask, the meatballs freeze great. Freeze them, unbaked, on a baking sheet. Once frozen, they can be placed in a freezer-safe ziploc bag. Bake them (without thawing first), adding 6-7 minutes to the baking time. Incidentally, they also freeze great after they have been baked. Freeze them in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and reheat them in the simmering sauce until they are warmed through.
Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!
Recipe Source: adapted from my friend, Mariann