The weather here has been rainy and dreary all weekend, and it has quickly thrown me back into winter comfort food mode. The temps haven’t even been that cool, but the rain completely drains me of any energy. Aren’t rainy days suppose to be for sleeping in, cuddling up with a good book, and maybe wandering in to the kitchen to bake?
The weirdest thing about this is how do you develop a craving for something you’ve never really (at least memorably) eaten? Truthfully, it has been a couple weeks since we made these meatballs. They came about a couple weeks ago during our freezing spell here as a direct result of a meatball craving on my part. Huh? In fact, I can’t really remember a time where I have actually had meatballs. Growing up, we occasionally had meatloaf, but I never remember mom making meatballs. Nonetheless, meatballs it was. Meatball subs in fact. I suppose the recipe is actually pretty timely considering there may be a big game coming up this weekend. I can promise you none of that was planned in advance. Maybe my unconscious is trying to tell me something?
The recipe I used is from Kelly Craves but was originally adapted from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe. I followed Kelly’s adaptions pretty closely, although I made a few substitutions based on what was available in my kitchen – mostly whole wheat Panko bread crumbs + Italian seasoning rather than Italian-style bread crumbs. As I referenced above, I served the meatballs over rolls with extra marinara and some additional shredded mozzarella cheese. Of note, I felt that the baking time needed to be a little bit longer than the 15 minutes called for in the recipe. I used the full 2-lbs of meat called for in the recipe, but I also ended up with 25 meatballs rather than 18. I baked mine for 18 minutes, and a few of them had just a touch of pink in the middle. It is hard to use a thermometer in these due to the cheese, so use your best judgement in baking them.
Baking time aside, we really enjoyed these both on the subs and alone with marinara for lunches. Given the opportunity, I am sure they would also make a great hot appetizer served with toothpicks for any appetizer-appropriate sporting events. 🙂 If it says anything about the recipe, my husband asked which recipe I was working on while I was composing this post. His response, “Man. Those were good.” Enjoy!
1 small onion, chopped finely or grated
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. plus 1/3 cup marinara sauce (use your favorite)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs. lean ground beef (we used 93/7)
fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2-inch cubes
olive oil, if desired
whole wheat hoagie bun
shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
To prepare the onion, it can be grated or added to the bowl of a food processor until chopped very finely. Mix the onion, parsley, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, egg, 2 tablespoons marinara, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Add the ground beef and mix with your hands until the mixture is completely uniform. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs (mine were about the size of a standard ice cream scoop). Flatten each slightly. Add the mozzarella cube and re-form the meat around the piece of cheese.
Add the remaining 1/3 cup of marinara in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the meatballs inside. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil at this point if desired. Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until the meat is browned and cooked through. While the meatballs are cooking, warm the extra marinara on the stove top.
Turn the oven to low broil. Split the buns if necessary, cutting only part of the way through the bread (like a hot dog bun). Add 3-4 meatballs to each bun. Top with extra marinara and shredded mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.