Did you know that I’m originally from New Jersey? That’s right: the land of great pizza, bagels (I promise to not say they’re the best… but they are), and diners. It’s also where you can get yourself a mighty fine Sub. If you’re wondering what a Sub (or “Submarine”, though I’ve never heard it referred to as such) is, it’s essentially a sandwich on steroids, packed with as many toppings as you can think of. You can’t just get a turkey sub… it has to have cheese and tomatoes and coleslaw and Russian dressing and some slices of salami. Ok, I made that one up. But you get the idea.
That’s what they have in Jersey. Subs. It’s not a “hoagie” or a “hero.” It’s a SUB. Can you tell that I get pretty passionate when I talk about these things?
I’ve had this idea for a while to make a meatball sub out of the TVP (that stands for “texured vegetable protein”) that’s at the grocery store next to the seitan and tofu. I used to cook with it frequently, especially when I stopped eating meat. After a while, I found that I was relying on it too much and cut back. There’s nothing worse than getting bored with an ingredient. Sometimes it’s best to just give it a rest for a bit.
But when this concept for a vegetarian meatball sub popped into my head, I knew it was the only product that would give it the consistency that I remember from my childhood. The result was exactly what I had hoped. This isn’t one of those dishes you give to vegetarians as a substitution for whatever meat entree is being served. Everyone, vegetarians and carnivores alike, will find this to be a fun and satisfying meal.
And, like most dishes that I prepare here, there is a lot that you can do with these sandwiches. I added some fresh parsley and sauteed mushrooms on top, but there’s no doubt that a little mayo (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it) on the bread and some caramelized onions would hit the spot.
Vegetarian Meatball Parm Subs
1 package of Gimme Lean “Ground Sausage Style”
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 Sub rolls
Cheddar cheese, approximately 10-12 thin slices
1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
Fresh Parsley, chopped
1. In a bowl, mix the Gimme Lean and yellow onion with your hands, until combined. Roll out into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
2. Add the oil to a large pan and set over a medium-high flame. Once heated, add the meatballs to the pan and cook until it has browned on one side. Using a spatula, flip over the meatballs and let the other side brown. Once this happens, gently toss the meatballs around in the pan until they get a little color on all sides. Turn off the burner and transfer the meatballs to a plate.
3. Add the mushrooms to the same pan that you used to cook the meatballs and set the burner to medium-high heat. Do not crowd the mushrooms. Cook them until they have gotten crispy on the outside, but not burnt. Transfer to a bowl.
4. To assemble the subs, cut the submarine bread almost completely in half, lengthwise. Line each side of the bread with 3 or 4 slices of cheddar cheese. Fill each one with 5 or 6 meatballs and top with the marinara sauce. Add another 2 or 3 slices of cheese on top of the meatballs.
5. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and place the pan under the broiler in the oven until the cheese has melted, being careful not to burn the sandwich.
6. Take the pan out of the oven and top each with mushrooms and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve immediately.