Tomato-Basil-Mozzarella Meatball Sandwich

This one came to me the other day when my little buddy asked for meatballs, and I didn’t want to do the same old recipe (even though my same old recipe is great). My mother in-law was coming over for dinner, stopping at our house on her way home from the airport after a trip out of town, before we ourselves head out of town in a couple days. So I wanted to make something fast and easy and full of good flavor for us to enjoy. She loves a Caprese salad, so I figured this was a good idea, and it turned out to be a big winner. Here you go.

* 1lb meat of your choice (I used lean beef, but turkey or chicken or pork would also work just as well)
* 1 egg
* 2T Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
* 2T grated Parmesan cheese
* a small bunch of fresh basil leaves, chopped fine, plus several whole leaves for sandwiches
* olive oil
* sauce of your choice
* hoagie rolls
* 1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced and halved
* fresh mozzarella, sliced

I started with essentially my standard go-to meatball recipe, and then just modified it with flavors that tied to this concept. In a bowl, mix together your meat, egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and chopped basil. I find it easiest to use my hands to really make sure all of the ingredients are blended thoroughly and throughout.

Heat a pan over medium heat with enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. While the oil heats, form the meat into approximately even sized meatballs. This recipe should yield 9-12 balls, depending on size. When the oil begins to glisten, it’s ready. Place the meatballs onto the heat and cook them a few minutes per side, turning them not just over, but onto their sides to help them cook through.

When there’s still a bit of pink visible, pour sauce over the meatballs, directly into the pan. You want enough sauce to cover the bottom and then a bit more, about half a regular-sized jar of store-bought sauce. For a good meatball sandwich, you don’t want so much sauce that your bread gets all soggy, but you do want enough that it’s not dry. Let your meatballs finish cooking while you warm the sauce up, just a few minutes.

That’s it. Now you’re ready to assemble and eat. Warm each hoagie roll in either the toaster oven or the microwave (gasp!) for just a bit. Place two meatballs into the roll, and spoon some extra sauce over them.

Place tomato on one side of the roll, and fresh basil leaves on the other.

Place a slice of fresh mozzarella over the top of the sandwich and then (gasp again!), give it a quick zap in the microwave (just 30 seconds or so) to help the cheese melt a bit over the sandwich – the heat from the sandwich will do this, but a little nudge in that direction will help, and will speed up your serving process.

In true my-style weeknight dinner fashion, this one goes from fridge to table in about 30 minutes. From toddler to grandparent, everyone at our house cleared their plates. This one’s going into the rotation. You should add it to yours… just sayin’.

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