A basic red sauce is so versatile. Just tweaking aromatics and spices can turn it into a sauce from almost any culture. And it’s not only a culinary chameleon, it’s also freezer friendly!
So when I had a tub of red sauce defrosting in my fridge, I just knew that I had to do something different with it – I had already made lasagne and spaghetti bolognese, so what about meatballs?
Given that we had been eating a lot of pasta, I knew that I didn’t want to have meatballs over more pasta. So, inspired by the smells coming from the local bakery, we decided that meatball subs were in order!
But first, the meatballs.
Basic Red Sauce:
(Makes 2L of sauce)
1 medium carrot
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can (400ml) crushed or diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon quill
2 cups beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Dice the carrot, onion and celery to 1cm dice. Sauté over medium heat till lightly coloured.
Add thyme, cayenne pepper and tomato paste, and fry till fragrant.
Add all other ingredients and simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 1 hour.
Portion and freeze as desired.
(Makes 16 meatballs)
350g beef mince
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, large
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp mustard
1L red sauce (recipe above), or any store bought pasta sauce
Preheat your oven to 180C
In a mixing bowl, add the milk to the breadcrumbs and leave for 10 minutes for the bread to soak up the milk.
Add all the other ingredients, except for the red sauce, to the breadcrumb and milk mixture. Mix, and roll into golf ball sized meat balls.
In a hot oven proof pan, brown the outsides of the meatballs. Add the red sauce to cover the meatballs, then cover the pan and place into the oven for 20 minutes. If your pan is not heatproof, you can use a roasting tray instead, making sure not to spread the meatballs out too far or you won’t have enough sauce to cover.
Remove the meatballs from the oven and check the consistency of the sauce. If too runny, the sandwich will fall apart. To thicken, simply simmer the meatballs in sauce over the stove, uncovered.
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp purée of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*
1 tbsp lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and season to taste.
*Can be found in cans in speciality grocery stores
Gouda cheese slices
Crusty french rolls
Preheat the grill.
To assemble the sandwich, simply slice the french rolls in half horizontally. Place bottom halves in a heatproof tray. Top bottom halves with meatballs and spoon over some sauce. Place gouda slices over the top and place under grill to melt the cheese.
Once melted, spoon over chipotle mayo, and cover with the top half of the french roll.
And there you have it! Warm and hearty meatball subs to have for a leisurely lunch. Pretty much everything can be made in advance for a quick assembly too – I had leftover meatballs in the fridge and assembled lunch within 20 mins! It doesn’t get much easier than that.