Vegetarian “Meatball” Sub
This vegetarian “meatball” sub is a nice meatless alternative to the classic!
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My sister is a unique type of vegetarian. Before she made the switch years ago she enjoyed eating meat. Loved it, really. (Her words, not mine.)
We used to live next door to each other before she started farming, and it was a really cool set-up. We’d cook together a few times a week, and
most many of the meals contained things like, bacon, bacon and more BACON.
We liked bacon. I still like bacon. SHE liked bacon when she decided to make the switch. And fried chicken. In fact, she still drools over both of them. No grossed out feelings when she watches me, or anyone else, eat meat.
So, why then, would my sister decide to become a vegetarian?
Well, the actual answer is that I started by eating meat only when I knew where it came from, and how it was raised. That got expensive and hard-ish to find. And I stopped for a while. I realized that I felt really great, plenty of energy, etc. And then I simply felt like I couldn’t justify eating an animal only because I liked the way it tastes. I still feel that way. Which sucks cause you can’t really make excuses for that one. LOL
One vegetarian decision doesn’t beget another, friends. Interesting, right?
My sister and I were chatting the other day and she mentioned making meatball subs over the weekend, based on a recipe from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations by Kim O’Donnel. Meatball subs.
Clearly I had to know more, so I quickly shot her a message asking her to photograph EVERYTHING and to follow up by sending me a recipe. I had to know how a vegetarian meatball sub turned out.
Luckily, she’s okay with entertaining my bizarre, last minute requests, starting with a shot of the cooked lentils and garlic cooling her windowsill.
Mmm… Lentils and garlic.
Followed by a shot of the meatball mixture: lentils, rice, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, pepper and egg.
Next up: a shot of the rolled meatballs, and after this photo she chilled them for a while.
Then, FRYING! She pan-fried the meatballs on all four sides. Or, whatever you call the “sides” of a sphere shape.
And lots of mozzarella with a toasty bun? Sure!
And, of course, sauce … and … more … CHEESE.
So, wanna know the recipe? It’s pretty close to the original, but my sister did make a few changes. Enjoy!
Vegetarian "Meatball" Sub
This vegetarian "meatball" sub is a nice meatless alternative to the classic!
- 6 cups water
- 1/2 cup cooked long-grain brown rice, cooled
- 1 cup dried brown or green lentils
- 5 garlic cloves: 2 whole, 3 minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/2 cup for panfrying
- 1 medium sized onion, grated
- 3 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 23-28oz can of tomato puree
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs or panko
- 1 egg, beaten lightly
- 6 6-inch sub rolls, toasted
- Fresh mozzarella for topping
In order for the balls to hold together, the mixture should be almost sticky and the lentils need to be very soft for that to happen. If they do start to fall apart, it could be that they need to chill longer and/or the lentils need more cooking time/liquid.
So glad to see this recipe. I have been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years, but I rely on processed meat substitutes. I am trying to get away from that and eat more real food. This recipe looks delicious. If your sister has found a vegetarian bacon substitute, please share.
I’ll ask her what her favorite bacon substitute is, but I’m certain she’ll say, “There is no bacon substitute.” 😉 I’m going to try and coerce her into sending more of her favorite vegetarian recipes! There’s one for vegetarian spring rolls that you might like….
You are correct…no bacon substitute. However, using smoked condiments and cheese can be really similar! But you can’t replicate texture of yummy crispy fat.
The spring rolls recipe is a favorite of mine although not a meat substitute! I also have a couple peanut noodle recipes I’ve been meaning to share.
I am wondering if I can get it past my family and their picky mouths!
This looks amazing…there are two reason I am not a vegetarian right now..One is my family would never give it up with me and two…I love me a burger! Anywho….I try to not eat meat breakfast or lunch and a few nights a week. I am always looking for new recipes….I can’t wait to try this!
Hope you like it!!
I love that this uses lentils and totally outside the box for a meatball sandwich, but definitely got to give a try now!! Thanks 🙂
Worst recipe ever, the balls didn’t stick together and it all fell apart.
Jeremy – that had to be frustrating if the balls didn’t stick together. I’ll see if my sister has had that happen before, and maybe what you could do next time to help (for this or similar recipes)! Maybe you could turn it into vegetarian steak ‘n cheese subs with the crumbles instead. 😉
And here’s what my sister had to say: “They hold together fine for me but the mixture should be almost sticky and the lentils need to be very soft for that to happen. It depends on when they fell apart too, before chilling? Or while cooking? It could also be that they need to chill longer in addition to more lentil cooking time/liquid. I have made other recipes before for vegetarian burgers that don’t hold together and that IS super annoying and frustrating.”
I LOVE that you used lentils for the meatballs…they look like the real deal and I bet they are absolutely delicious! I have to give this a try sometime. Yum!
Right!! You’ll have to try it and report back!