The Meatball Sub

by Andie Mitchell on August 26, 2010

In my kitchen. I bang pots, throw pans, tap spatulas with ladles in the air like drumsticks counting down before a particularly raucous set. I go wild. Learn my spices like times tables, read cookbooks like Bible passages, talk to my ingredients as I would old friends. “You look so good dressed in beurre blanc.” And “Peanut Buttter, have you met chocolate?”

In my kitchen. On any given day, this is what you’ll find: a marble countertop, with visible slicks created by ever-softening sticks of unsalted butter. Two cookbooks splayed open, bindings revealing their strings. My poor laptop, the third of the cookbooks and sleekest by far. No offense, Silver Palate. The screen forever spotted with olive oil, the ‘A’ and ‘S’ keys separated by only powdered sugar glue. Must have been that time I wanted to make paste. I think.

Five cabinets opened. Spices, caps off, rowed in order of closeness to my heart. Cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and ginger.

My fridge- just begging for a family. A justification for the ketchupy fingerprints, the greasy handling of stainless doors. This level of excess only found at Costco.

My floor, a makeshift beach. White sand of sugar and salt. Not every pinch should be thrown over my left shoulder for good luck.

My oven, so warmly spiced and scented that I want to crawl inside from time to time. Sit on the middle rack next to a cupcake tin. I’d like to insert myself into the center of the cake, save the toothpick for another task.

Me, in powder blue pants, pilled with wear and years of lazy Sundays. Okay, lazy Tuesdays too. My tee shirt, so stretched it looks as though I’m trying to own that one shoulder look. If only.

My face, bare but blushed. A flush of rose, moving towards rosacea, from getting one smidge too cozy with a just-baked popover. Steam really is dangerous.

My hair. No words.

I am home here. In my kitchen.

The Meatball Sub

(makes 2 sandwiches)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 8 oz lean ground beef (I use 90% lean ground sirloin)

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1, 15 oz can of tomato sauce (just plain pureed tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 split top hot dog buns
  • 2 oz fresh buffalo mozzarella balls, sliced, or 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Make your bread crumbs: Tear one piece of whole grain bread into pieces and place it in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until it has become fine crumbs.

Add the breadcrumbs to a bowl with 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 TBSP grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. Whisk to combine.

Add 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef (ground sirloin is great) and 2 TBSP milk. Use your hands to mix it all together, just until it is well combined. Do not overwork your meat or the meatballs will be tough.

Form the mixture into balls. I made six because I like them larger.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs and cook for about 7 minutes, just to brown them on all sides.

Get your sauce ingredients ready: 1/2 cup chopped onion (1/2 of a small onion), 1/2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms, 2 minced cloves garlic, 1 can tomato sauce (just tomato puree), 1 tsp dried oregano and 1 tsp dried basil.

Add the onion and stir, letting them soften for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute, being careful not to let your garlic burn.

Pour in the tomato sauce and spices. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Once the mixture comes to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let it bubble for about 10 minutes, just for all the flavors to combine and the meatballs to cook through.

Preheat your oven to broil. Toast a regular hot dog bun until it is a light golden brown. Place the toasted bun on a small baking sheet and spoon two to three meatballs in the middle. Top the meatballs with more sauce and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. I used fresh buffalo mozzarella halls and sliced them into thin circles. Broil for about 1 minute, or until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

Serve with a big green salad, because green looks good with red.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth August 26, 2010 at 11:17 am

That looks awesome. I wonder if I could make it with veggie crumbles? Hmmm…


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Hey Beth!! I bet you *can* make this with veggie crumbles! Thanks for the love!


Maissa August 26, 2010 at 11:22 am

This looks so yummy. It also makes me think of Friends and Joey’s obsession with meatball subs, I wont speak for him, but I think he’d approve.

I also love your kitchen description. Mine is similar, except usually I’ve stupidly decided to wear black yoga pants which get covered and flour, that and my hair becomes and afro in the heat and humidity caused by my oven/stove… It isn’t pretty, but the food tastes good, and I’m fairly confident my boyfriend only loves me for my cooking :).


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Mai, seriously. You are maybe my number one reader in terms of actually making the recipes I put out there! Unless there are people I don’t know about. Thanks for all the love.


runrantrealize August 27, 2010 at 2:09 am

It’s because unemployment has gifted me with an overabundance of time. My solution is baking.

Plus you aren’t afraid of butter, or sugar, which means my boyfriend will actually eat the food instead of leaving me with a whole batch of muffins/brownies/cookies and while they might be healthier… I still don’t want to eat a dozen vegan cookies (and believe me, I could do it)


BBx2 - Mandy & jR August 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

I think every time I see a new post from you.. the first thing I say always is – OH my gosh… that looks amazing! :) Needless to say, I look forward to your posts!

I love meatball subs… and my husband will greatly appreciate this one :)


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Thank you!! You are very very kind. I’m so happy you’re reading, I like to think there’s at least one person other than my mom who smiles when they read.


Fervent Foodie August 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I lvoe the toothpick comment!!! I agree!!! And man, that meatball sandwich looks amazing.


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I really wish that you and I were eating deep dish pizza right now. In Chicago. Meet me back there?


Fervent Foodie August 26, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I’m game!


Tina August 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I can totally picture you in your kitchen, just how you described. :) And meatball subs are one of my husband’s favorite things. It’s the NY Italian in him.


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Thank you, Tina! Your comments always mean the world to me.


Megan (Braise The Roof) August 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Classic. And classy! ;)


Janene August 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm

You are such an amazing writer, and great in the kitchen too, if my laptop screen doesn’t lie (and why would it have a reason to?). Your blog is amazing, I always look forward to a new post!


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Thank you so so much, Janene! I’m lucky to have you as a reader!


Leah @ Why Deprive? August 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I dont know how you do it, but I dont even LIKE meatballs and I want one of these! You have a gift let me tell you! :)


Can You Stay for Dinner August 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Leah, you never fail to make me smile. Thanks!


RhodeyGirl August 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

Oh I just LOVE this post!!! You are an incredible writer.


Can You Stay for Dinner August 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

Thanks so much, Sabrina!! Hope you’re well!


cozydelicious August 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Your meatballs look fantastic! My husband would swoon for these subs. And I totally relate to your kitchen – it is just like mine! I called it ‘well-loved’. I will never understand people with pristine couter tops and smear-free stoves and gleaming appliances. Do they just order pizza every night?


Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) August 28, 2010 at 7:17 am

These. Look. Awesome!

I always make my own bread “crumbs”, but they’re actually more like toasted bread crumbs. There’s no spice or flavoring added. You’ve inspired me to actually make them Italian styled with all those delicious herbs. :D


Katie @ Health for the Whole Self August 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I’d love to be a fly on the wall sometime while you’re cooking (not in a creepy way or anything!). I just love to see people in their element, when they’re feeling totally comfortable, free, and liberated. It’s always a beautiful sight. :)


Monique@She's Going The Distance August 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Oh man… that looks crazy good!!!


Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) August 28, 2010 at 5:43 pm

OMG that totally looks like the sandwich I got in high school from a little divey Italian Sub place in Los Feliz (in LA) called Giamela’s. I dream of Giamela’s and haven’t been for years. Perhaps I’ll just have to make my own now that you have reminded me how awesome it was! Thanks!


Can You Stay for Dinner August 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Thanks for your kind words, Deb!!


Mo August 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Your kitchen is probably spotless compared to mine. ;)

It should be noted that this made me drool. Thanks for that. XD (The meatball sub part, not the part about having a makeshift beach on the floor. I think.)


Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life August 30, 2010 at 9:38 am

Looks mouth watering!


Nienke at Revel August 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Your kitchen sounds so alive and cozy – I love it! Good food doesn’t come out of clean and tidy kitchens!

I’m putting this recipe in the vault for when I want to cook my husband something indulgent :)


Can You Stay for Dinner September 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Thanks Nienke!!


Brave New Food April 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I made these meatball subs tonight and they were sooooo tasty! :D Thanks for the recipe! My husband went nutzo for them!


Nate April 15, 2014 at 11:39 pm

This is what I need before I hit the gym


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