The Meatball Sub

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.



35 thoughts on “The Meatball Sub

  1. Maissa

    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 :).

      1. runrantrealize

        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)

  2. BBx2 - Mandy & jR

    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 :)

  3. Tina

    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.

  4. Janene

    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!

  5. cozydelicious

    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?

  6. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self

    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. :)

  7. Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo)

    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!

  8. Mo

    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.)

  9. Nienke at Revel

    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 :)

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