Combine vegetarian "Meat"balls with a simple homemade Marinara Sauce and toasted cheese and you've got a delicious, hearty, budget-friendly meal the whole family loves!
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This is a simple, budget-friendly recipe for a vegetarian meatball sandwich with "tomato sauce" as we call marinara sauce.
Gluten-Free? These meatballs skip using bread crumbs in favor of rolled oats. Sub in gluten-free hot dog buns and your recipe is fully gluten-free!
Key Ingredients for Vegetarian Meatball Marinara Sandwich
- Can of black beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas
- Tomato paste.
- Garlic. Fresh minced garlic will give you the best flavor but feel free to use garlic powder if that is what you have on hand.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Italian Seasoning. If you prefer, pull out your fresh herbs like oregano, basil, and parsley.
- Rolled oats— old-fashioned or quick are fine.
- Sunflower seeds (out of the shells), pine nuts, or walnuts
- Crushed tomatoes
- Hot dog buns (or hoagie rolls)-- Melanie highly recommends top-split buns for meatball subs and I totally agree with her!
- Grated Parmesan Cheese. Mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, or even cheddar works great, as well.
Note: try adding a bit of red pepper flakes to ramp up the heat in the marinara sauce.
Instructions for "meat"balls:
- Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms on medium-high. Remove from heat.
- In a food processor, pulse the nuts.
- Add the rinsed beans and all the remaining ingredients and sauteed veggies. Pulse the mixture until well combined.
- Form into about meatballs.
- Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (less or more depending on size of meatballs.
Tip: if you like your meatballs crispy on the outside, broil them for about 2 minutes at the very end. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn!
Instructions for marina sauce:
- Saute onion, garlic, & Italian seasoning.
- Stir in the tomatoes, salt & pepper.
- Simmer while your meatballs cook on medium heat.
Assembling the meatball sub:
- Place 3-4 meatballs inside your hot dog bun. Top with cheese.
- Return the subs to the oven, turn the oven to broil, broil for about 4 minutes or until the bun is toasty and the cheese is melted.
Vegetarian “Meat”ball Marinara Subs
- 1 can of black beans kidney beans, or chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon oil olive or canola
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 yellow onion roughly chopped
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup rolled oats— old-fashioned or quick are fine.
- 2 ounces mushrooms chopped
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds out of the shells, pine nuts, or walnuts
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
- 6 hot dog buns top-split buns work best!
- 1 cup Parmesan or other favorite cheese
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.→ oven at 350 degrees
- Heat olive oil on med-high heat, saute onion for about 3 until soft, add garlic and mushrooms and saute just until fragrant...about 2 min. Remove from heat.
- In a food processor, pulse the nuts until a fine powder.
- Rinse and drain the beans, add all the remaining ingredients and the sauteed veggies (save the pan!). Pulse until well combined.
- Form into about 12 meatballs (I find about 1.5 inch seems right). I use damp hands to form my meatballs but Amy uses an ice cream scoop. Either work great just be sure to press them tightly.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes (less or more depending on size of meatballs.
- Tip: if you like your meatballs crispy on the outside, broil them for about 2 minutes at the very end. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn!
- While the meatballs are cooking, in the same pan as the onions and garlic were in, heat oil and add the chopped onions. Saute for about 3 min.
- Add the garlic and Italian seasoning. Saute for 2 min.
- Stir in the tomatoes, salt & pepper. Bring to a light boil, turn down to simmer (I like to cover it so it doesn't make a mess) while your meatballs cook.
- Place 3-4 meatballs inside your hot dog bun. Top with the sauce and then top with cheese.
- Return the subs to the oven, turn the oven to broil on low, broil for about 4 minutes or until the bun is toasty and the cheese is melted.