vegetarian meatball subs baking in oven

    Vegetarian “meatball” sub sandwich baking in oven – toasted brown bread with melted cheese over marinara-dipped meatballs

    We found the best vegetarian meatballs and used them to create a meatless meatball sub sandwich. Our version is slathered with a mouth-watering homemade marinara sauce, topped with melted provolone cheese, and all nestled in a Dutch crunch roll. This meal will be a hit for kids and perfect for busy family weeknight dinners.

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    meatless meatball subs dipped in marinara atop sandwiches laid out ready to go into oven

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    Time:60 min (5 prep, 55 cook)
    Calories:639 (per serving)
    Good For:American comfort food, lunch or dinner

    If you are looking for a recipe that will help you win over skeptics who don’t think veggie meats can cut it, this is a definite contender!

    Our recipe uses Dutch crunch bread, provolone cheese, a marinara sauce blend, and the most authentic-tasting meatballs we could find to create a hearty, delectable sandwich. These sandwiches really shine with high quality ingredients, so be sure to get high quality cheese from the deli and freshly-baked bread from the bakery.

    What is marinara sauce?

    You’ve heard of tomato sauce, and you’ve heard of marinara sauce. Now what exactly is the difference between the two?

    Strict purists aside, most sources generally agree that the main difference between the two is that tomato sauce is a general term, whereas marinara sauce is a specific version of tomato sauce.

    As you can see from the pasta & sauce aisle at your grocery store, there are tons and tons of tomato sauce variations. Tomato sauce basically refers to tomatoes that are cooked or broken down into a sauce-like consistency plus whatever ingredients you want to add. This can be anything from aromatics like onions & garlic to wine or cheese or pretty much anything you can think of.

    On the other hand, marinara sauce is made up only of a few key ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, and herbs.

    More specifically, traditionalists will argue that an authentic recipe calls for basil and crushed San Marzano tomatoes as the herb and tomato type of choice respectively, which are used to create a chunky sauce.

    In reality, though, different regions will have different preferences, so you’re bound to see wide variety in what herb is used & the consistency of the resulting sauce.

    ingredients for marinara sauce - basil, olive oil, fresh vine tomatoes

    Ingredients to create an authentic, flavorful marinara sauce

    How to make homemade marinara sauce

    Making a homemade marinara sauce is actually pretty easy. Our goal was to create an extra-flavorful marinara sauce that could could be quickly made using ingredients that most people would have in their pantry. As such, we strayed a little from the traditional marinara recipe and added a few things to amp up the tastiness.

    First off, we love our aromatics so although the traditional marinara sauce recipe only calls for garlic, we included onion as well.

    Second, we went with parsley and oregano for our herb choices because we love the floral note that oregano adds and the color & comfort that parsley provides.

    Finally, since few people keep San Marzano tomatoes in stock, we just used regular tomato paste for our base since it’s a staple item found in most home kitchens.

    Of course, if you want to try a more authentic version, you can easily omit the onions, swap out our herbs for basil, and incorporate a can of San Marzano tomatoes to make your sauce extra chunky.

    Best vegetarian meatball

    Anyone who has ever tried fake meat products knows that they can totally be hit-or-miss. A really convincing substitute has to nail two really important aspects: taste and texture. After trying numerous brands of veggie meatballs, we found a clear winner: Gardein’s Classic Meatless Meatballs.

    While many of the meatballs we tried were fairly bland, Gardein’s meatballs were packed with savory meat flavor that was well-intertwined with the flowery notes of classic Italian herbs. The texture and feel are also spot on, retaining the chewiness of traditional meatballs and even browning just as real meatballs do when you cook them on the skillet.

    vegetarian meatball sub sandwich faux meat being cooked on stovetop

    Meatless “meatballs” pan-fried until a nice, brown color

    Ingredients

    Supplies

    How to Make Meatless Meatball Sub Sandwiches – Step by Step

    Step 1. Saute onions with 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat about 7 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

    Step 2. Add garlic and cook for approximately one more minute, until the mixture is fragrant.

    Step 3. Deglaze the saucepan by adding 1.5 cups of water. This loosens the food product that has settled into the bottom of the skillet, but keep the water in your pan and don’t dump it out because that layer is packed with flavor that will incorporate nicely into the sauce.

    Step 4. Add tomato paste and dried herbs and stir until smooth. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Step 5. Cook the meatballs in a separate large skillet pan with some olive oil over medium heat until nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Flip the meatballs occasionally to ensure even browning.

    Step 6. Season tomato sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add water as necessary to adjust the sauce to your desired thickness. Combine sauce with meatballs and toss to coat.

    Step 7. Arrange split Dutch crunch rolls on a baking sheet, add meatballs and sauce, then lay on cheese slices and some fresh ground pepper.

    Step 8. Place under a preheated broiler for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is nicely toasted. Be sure to monitor closely because broilers heat food at a very fast rate and can quickly burn your food if left unattended too long. Remove and serve hot.

    vegetarian meatball sub sandwich assembled in toasted dutch crunch roll

    Assembled vegetarian “meatball” sub sandwich in a toasted Dutch crunch roll

    Variations & Substitutions

    Our choice of provolone cheese is a little bit on the fancy side, but you can always go with the more traditional choice of mozzarella cheese if desired. You can also turn this into a vegan meatball sub recipe by using soy/vegan cheese.

    If you have trouble finding Dutch crunch rolls or simply want a softer bread choice, hoagie rolls work perfectly find for this recipe.

    As mentioned above, you can play around with the marinara sauce recipe and modify it to suit your preferences by changing the mix of herbs used. For example, you can try basil or crushed rosemary instead.

    As easy as this recipe is already, one way to drastically reduce the cooking time even more on this recipe is to use your favorite jarred marinara or spaghetti sauce instead of following all the steps to make the homemade tomato sauce. Just make sure it isn’t too runny as you want it to stay mostly in the sandwich. You can always add more tomato paste or simmer it longer to cook of the moisture if you need to thicken up your store-bought sauce.

    Meatless Meatball Sub Sandwich in Marinara - Perfect for Kids & Busy Families
    Prep Time
    5 mins
    Cook Time
    55 mins
    Total Time
    1 hr
     

    We found the best vegetarian meatballs and used them to create a meatless meatball sub sandwich. Our version is slathered with a mouth-watering homemade marinara sauce, topped with melted provolone cheese, and all nestled in a Dutch crunch roll. This meal will be a hit for kids and perfect for busy family weeknight dinners.

    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Italian
    Keyword: marinara sauce, sub sandwich
    Servings: 6 people
    Calories: 639 kcal
    Author: munchmunchyum
    Ingredients
    • ½ medium onion diced
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
    • 3 oz. tomato paste
    • 1 package Gardein Meatless Meatballs each cut in half
    • provolone cheese sliced
    • ¼ tsp dried oregano
    • ½ tsp dried parsley
    • olive oil extra virgin
    • 6 Dutch crunch rolls
    Instructions
    1. Saute onions with 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat about 7 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

      vegetarian meatball sub sandwich onions being seasoned with herbs in a pan
    2. Add garlic and cook for approximately one more minute, until the mixture is fragrant.

    3. Deglaze the saucepan by adding 1.5 cups of water. This loosens the food product that has settled into the bottom of the skillet, but keep the water in your pan and don’t dump it out because that layer is packed with flavor that will incorporate nicely into the sauce.
    4. Add tomato paste and dried herbs and stir until smooth. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    5. Cook the meatballs in a separate large skillet pan with some olive oil over medium heat until nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Flip the meatballs occasionally to ensure even browning.

      vegetarian meatball sub sandwich faux meat being cooked on stovetop
    6. Season tomato sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add water as necessary to adjust the sauce to your desired thickness. Combine sauce with meatballs and toss to coat.
    7. Arrange split Dutch crunch rolls on a baking sheet, add meatballs and sauce, then lay on cheese slices and some fresh ground pepper.
    8. Place under a preheated broiler for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is nicely toasted. Be sure to monitor closely because broilers heat food at a very fast rate and can quickly burn your food if left unattended too long. Remove and serve hot.
      vegetarian meatball subs baking in oven
    Recipe Notes

    Substitutions & Variations:
    Our choice of provolone cheese is a little bit on the fancy side, but you can always go with the more traditional choice of mozzarella cheese if desired.
     
    You can also turn this into a vegan meatball sub recipe by using soy/vegan cheese.
     
    If you have trouble finding Dutch crunch rolls or simply want a softer bread choice, hoagie rolls work perfectly find for this recipe.
     
    As mentioned above, you can play around with the marinara sauce recipe and modify it to suit your preferences by changing the mix of herbs used. For example, you can try basil and rosemary instead.
     
    As easy as this recipe is already, one way to drastically reduce the cooking time even more on this recipe is to use your favorite jarred marinara or spaghetti sauce instead of following all the steps to make the homemade tomato sauce. Just be sure that it isn’t too watery as you want it to stay mostly in the sandwich. You can always add more tomato paste to thicken up a store-bought sauce if needed.

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