Easy Baked Meatball Subs (with Gluten-Free, Veggie & Vegan Suggestions)
It's been a little while since I've posted a savoury recipe so here we go - Easy Baked Meatball Subs are next up on the blog! These subs are the perfect winter weekend recipe. Quick and easy to prepare, you can leave the meatballs baking in the oven while you get cosy with a blanket and a good film. Just before your meatballs are ready, pop some baguettes in the oven and then get ready to devour!
This recipe uses classic beef meatballs. I also used pre-made meatballs because quite frankly, I wanted this recipe to be quick and easy, and making meatballs adds time on. But, you're welcome to make your own if that's what suits you best. Most pre-made meatballs won't be gluten-free or wheat-free so if that's what you need to cater for, make sure to check the labelling carefully. You may find it easier to make your own gluten-free meatballs.
If you'd like to make your own beef meatballs for this recipe, I recommend you combine 360g lean beef mince, 30g grated parmesan, 1 large minced garlic clove, 1 egg yolk and 30g fresh white breadcrumbs (ensure gluten-free if required) in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and then scrunch and shape into 12 even-sized meatballs.
Not a fan of beef or don't eat it? Don't worry, I've got you covered. You can make these meatball subs with whatever meat or non-meat alternative suits you best! For example:
Want to use meat but don't like/eat beef? Why not buy or make meatballs with lamb or turkey mince. Alternatively, you could use chicken or pork sausages in place of meatballs.
Want to make your meatballs vegetarian? You could make meatless meatballs using Quorn mince. There are also some great recipes online for veggie meatballs, such as the Hairy Biker's Meatless Meatballs - follow their recipe for the meatballs and then come back to this recipe for the rest.
Want to make your meatballs vegan? If you're looking for a quick and easy alternative to pre-made meatballs I would recommend buying pre-made falafel, or using chunks of butternut squash or aubergine in place of the meatballs. If you'd like to make your own vegan meatballs, again there's plenty of inspiration online for you - check out Wholefully's Vegan Meatballs and Minimalist Baker's Vegan Meatballs for ideas.
Utensils: Chopping board, sharp knife, frying pan, olive oil for frying, wooden spoon or spatula, grater, oven proof dish(es), baking tray.
Top Tip: If you have leftovers, why not save them for another day. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, defrost thoroughly before reheating until piping hot. Serve with spaghetti, rice, lentils or quinoa for another tasty lunch or dinner. Do not re-heat more than once.
Baked Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1 small red onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small or ½ of a large red pepper, diced
360g beef meatballs, pre-made or you can make your own (see above) - Substitute with alternative meat or meatless meatballs if you prefer
50ml red wine (ensure vegan if required)
1 vegetable stock cube (ensure vegan if required)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1 tin (400g) peeled plum tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons cornflour
125g mozzarella cheese, sliced (or vegan alternative)
50g cheddar cheese, grated (or vegan alternative)
2 part-baked baguettes (ensure gluten-free if required)
1 small bunch basil leaves
Serves: 2, with leftovers that can be used for another meal (see my Top Tip above).
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Prep your vegetables; dice the red onion, finely mince the garlic ad dice the red pepper. If you're making your own meatballs or meatless meatballs, prep these now (see my recommendations at the top of this blog post for the different types of meat, veggie or vegan meatballs you could use in this recipe).
2. In a frying pan over a medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the red onion, garlic and red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, frequently stirring to ensure the vegetables don't burn. Turn the heat down slightly if needed.
3. After 2-3 minutes, add another tablespoon of olive oil and then add your chosen meatballs or meatless meatballs. Brown the meatballs all over (this should take around 5 minutes) but be careful not to break them up. If the meatballs start sticking to the pan, add a little more olive oil as needed.
4. Once the meatballs are browned all over, add the red wine to the pan, followed by the vegetable stock cube. Crumble up the stock cube as you add it and then give everything a stir to ensure the stock cube melts fully. Add the oregano, smoked paprika and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the tin of peeled plum tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes with a knife or a spoon as you add them to the pan. Stir and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. While the mixture is bubbling, add 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour to a small bowl or cup and mix with a little water to form a smooth paste. How much cornflour you use will depend on how thick you like your tomato sauce. I like mine pretty thick, but if you prefer yours runnier then you can use less cornflour or omit it all together. Stream the cornflour into the tomato sauce, stirring vigorously as you go to ensure the sauce thickens without any lumps. Once the sauce has visibly thickened, remove from the heat.
6. Transfer the mixture to 2 individual-sized oven-proof dishes or 1 larger oven-proof dish. Top each dish with sliced mozzarella and grated cheddar cheese, or vegan alternatives. Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven until the meatballs have cooked through and the cheese (or vegan "cheese") has melted and is bubbling. This should take around 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven.
7. About 10 minutes before your meatballs are ready, placed your part-baked baguettes on a baking tray in the oven. Once the meatballs and baguettes are baked, it's time to time to eat! Slice the baguettes in half and spoon the baked meatballs into the baguettes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with a side salad if wanted.
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If freezing, freeze any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating until piping hot. Do not re-heat more than once.