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
750ml passata
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.

Polpette (Meatballs):
(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.

Chipotle Mayo

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

To Serve

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.


  1. Helen (Grab Your Fork) May 25, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Massive fan of meatballs! And I love adding cinnamon to my tomato sauce too.

  2. irene May 29, 2014 at 4:54 am

    Woah, I would totally want that for lunch!

  3. Maria @ Feisty Tapas June 20, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Oh man that looks good! I haven’t eaten my lunch yet (I’m in the UK) so could really do with this jumping out of the screen and onto my lap!

  4. Lucy @ Bake Play Smile June 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Oh my goodness!! This looks incredible! I can’t wait to make this! I’ve just shared your link on my FB page. Thanks for linking up with our Fabulous Foodie Fridays party! xxx

  5. Georgia June 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I NEED THESE IN MY BELLY!!! Hello my weekend, I can’t wait to make you!


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