Meatball Sandwiches with Mushrooms and Peppers

A great meatball sandwich has two important elements: well-seasoned meatballs and a richly-flavored sauce. This recipe delivers on both counts! We like to bake our meatballs because it saves a little prep time and cuts down on fat. Our mushroom and pepper sauce is a chunky blend of onions, garlic, mushrooms, red and green bell peppers and diced tomatoes. Not only does it add a lot of flavor, it brings a healthy dose of vegetables to this classic sub shop favorite.

Meatball Sandwiches with Mushrooms and Peppers

Meatball Sandwiches with Mushrooms and Peppers

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Baked meatballs and a chunky sauce made with mushrooms, onions, sweet bell peppers and tomatoes make our homemade version of this sandwich shop favorite into a deliciously hearty meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (six-inch) hoagie rolls
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For the mushroom-pepper sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and coat it with nonstick spray.
  2. Place the ground meat, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine well and form into 1-1/4 inch diameter meatballs (you should have about 16).
  3. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on the prepared pan and bake for 8 minutes, then turn them and continue baking until cooked through and lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes longer.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
  5. While the meatballs bake, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until any liquid they've given off has evaporated and they begin to brown, 4 to 6 minutes longer.
  7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then add the peppers and continue cooking until they're slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  9. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken, then reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan.
  10. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender, 7 to 8 minutes longer. Add the meatballs and turn to coat with sauce.
  11. To assemble the sandwiches, slice the rolls lengthwise, spread flat and add 3 to 4 meatballs to each.
  12. Top each with a portion of sauce and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.
  13. Put a fresh piece of foil on your baking pan, arrange the sandwiches in a single layer and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe Variation:

A pound of store-bought Italian sausage (hot or sweet), can be substituted for the meatballs. Use kitchen shears to cut the links into 1-inch pieces, bake as directed for the meatballs and follow the rest of the recipe as written.