Cooking with a little one has been much harder than I anticipated. It’s not that he’s fussy during dinner or anything, it’s just that there is NO time during the week. We’ve been trying to eat together as a family but that isn’t always easy or possible. During the week, it’s a blink of an eye between the time Zachary gets home from daycare and goes to sleep. I’d much rather be playing with him for that short time than be in the kitchen, that’s for sure. As a result, I’ve started trying to prep more things on the weekend or the night before, after Zachary’s gone to sleep to get things done quickly the next evening. We still don’t always eat as a family (Tom & I often eat dinner after Zachary is asleep), but either way, things are made easier with prep work.
Every minute of my day from about 6am to 7pm is booked solid. And I mean every minute. I’ve been using minutes I didn’t even know I had. Like those 10 minutes I normally have to sit down for a second in the morning before leaving for work? Those were used to chop and sauté the vegetables for these meatballs. The night before, when Zachary went to bed, I made the sauce (part of it was used for these subs, and the rest for chicken parmesan – look at me, so resourceful!).
With that said, these do come together pretty quickly and easily, even if you don’t make them in, like, 7 parts. 🙂 They’re tasty and comforting and, since I used lean ground beef and part-skim mozzarella, really not bad for you, either. We had these with a Caesar salad for a complete meal.
I made the meatballs and sauce pretty similarly to the way I make them for spaghetti and meatballs. I had an extra half of a red bell pepper in my fridge so I decided to dice that and throw it into the meatball mixture, which was a nice addition that added a little bit of sweetness. I made a few other tweaks here and there.
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2 cups pasta sauce (recipe follows)
1 recipe meatballs (recipe follows)
4 hoagie rolls
1 garlic clove, cut in half
4 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese
Makes about 3.5 cups
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (29 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup water or broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste
To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook off for about a minute or two. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes or longer. For a thicker sauce, simmer covered. For a thinner sauce, simmer uncovered.
To make the meatballs: Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and sauté until tender, then stir in the garlic for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
To the bowl with the breadcrumbs and milk, add the sautéed vegetables, egg, parsley, cheese, ground beef, oregano, salt (about a tsp.) and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into 12 meatballs.
You can bake the meatballs (400 for about 12 minutes), pan fry them, or just plop them in the sauce to cook. This is your choice. I usually bake them about 10 minutes and then finish them off in the sauce.
To assemble the subs: Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the split hoagie rolls and place in a hot oven or under the broiler until toasty. Immediately rub the buns with the cut garlic clove.
Slice the cheese in half (into triangles) and place 2 triangles on each roll. Stick the buns in the oven or under the broiler once more, just until the cheese melts.
Spoon 1/2 cup of sauce and 3 meatballs into each roll, and serve.