Our weather has cooled down a lot lately, and it's making me really excited for fall to get here. Fall is, hands-down, my very favorite season. The food, the football, the weather, the wardrobe...I love it all. The temperatures were so reminiscent of fall over the weekend, in fact, that they put me in the mood for a hearty dinner. I asked Joe how he'd feel if I made meatball subs for dinner, and I swear I saw his eyes light up.
I didn't use his favorite meatball recipe for these, since hot Italian sausage is still a bit too spicy for the boys. Instead, I used a combination of ground sirloin and mild Italian sausage as the base for the meatballs, then added all of the usual suspects: onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. I used split hoagie rolls for the subs, and I lined the rolls with tangy provolone and sharp Romano. After adding the meatballs and sauce to the rolls, I topped them with fresh mozzarella and baked them in the oven. And voila!: three cheese meatball subs. A hearty, flavorful, delicious meal to transition into fall, and definitely a new family favorite.
Each roll fits three or four meatballs, and this recipe makes 35 to 40 meatballs -- so even if you make all six of the hoagie rolls that come in the pack like I did, you'll have quite a few left over. I froze the remainder, and I'm really looking forward to having them again sometime this fall.
Three Cheese Baked Meatball Subs
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound mild or sweet Italian sausage
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Drizzle of olive oil
For the sauce:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 14.5-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (any variety)
Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste
For the subs:
6 hoagie rolls
6 slices provolone cheese
6 tablespoons grated Romano or parmesan cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. To make the meatballs, add the sirloin and sausage to a large bowl. Grate in the onion using a microplane, then add the rest of the meatball ingredients. Use your hands to gently combine all of the ingredients, without over-mixing. Form into meatballs, each a little smaller than the size of a golf ball, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
3. While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. Melt the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven (you want something large, because you'll be adding the meatballs later). Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is softened and translucent. Add in the garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add in the sugar and stir until the onion and garlic are coated with it. Stir in the diced tomatoes and the sauce, and taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and stir gently to evenly coat them. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce and meatballs simmer together.
4. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Line another baking sheet with the open hoagie rolls. In the bottom of each roll, place a slice of provolone cheese (cut in half so it'll fit, if needed) and a tablespoon of the Romano or parmesan. Place three or four meatballs in each roll, topping with additional sauce. Top each roll with a generous helping of the fresh mozzarella.
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheeses are melted and the rolls are crispy.