Recipe: Vegetarian Meatball Sandwich
I think it’s been about 15 years since I’ve eaten a proper meatball sandwich (and that sandwich was probably from Subway, admittedly not the finest purveyor of Italian sandwiches). When I was looking through some of my recent recipes, I came across an August recipe for Spaghetti with Lentil “Meatballs” & Fra Diavolo Sauce and instantly thought the meatballs would be fantastic between two pieces of bread. I mean, who doesn’t love sandwiches?
Rather than making our own sauce this time, I decided to buy a jar of no-sugar-added sauce. Jarred sauce is honestly cheaper (and obviously quicker) than the homemade variety, and I was glad to see that the sugar level in Muir Glen Organic’s Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce wasn’t over the top (just 4 grams per half a cup).
I love this meal because it feels decadent without actually being too bad. We served the sandwiches with balsamic-roasted Brussels sprouts and used low-fat ingredients whenever possible. Feed the top piece of bread to your dogs like I did, and you’ll hardly feel this is a “guilty pleasure” meal at all!
2 c. cooked brown lentils
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. finely chopped parsley
1 T. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
Brussels sprouts, cut & cleaned
Balsamic vinegar & olive oil
Salt & pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the Brussels, remove the outer leaves, cut off the stems and slice in half. Toss with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast for about 25-35 minutes or until the sprouts are as crispy as you’d like them.
2) Cook the lentils according to package directions (be careful not to overcook, as you don’t want the lentils to be too mushy). Mince the garlic. Add both the lentils and the garlic to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3) Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the eggs, Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese, parsley and thyme. Season with salt & pepper and mix well to combine.
4) Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mixture sit at least for 15 to 20 minutes.
5) Scoop the mixture into balls using a tablespoon. Lightly grease a nonstick skillet and heat over medium flame. Add shaped “meatballs” and cook until lightly browned, rotating frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.
6) Pour the jar of marinara sauce over the lentil balls until the sauce is warmed through.
7) Slice the bread in half, butter each side and cook in the oven or on the stovetop until crispy.
8) Scoop three or four lentils balls onto the bottom piece of bread for each sandwich. Cover with additional sauce, and top with two slices of Provolone cheese per sandwich. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese becomes melted and slightly browned. Top with additional sauce and parsley if desired and serve with the Brussels sprouts.