I love a good meatball sub.
There was a time in high school that my friends and I were all obsessed with Subway. I know—what a weird thing to be obsessed with. We were also way into Dairy Queen. Chicken strip baskets, for the win! But in our defense, we lived in the smallest town ever. Which meant none of these types of eateries were readily available. Subway and Dairy Queen were totally big city, fancypants food to us. Literally, the only restaurant in my hometown is Hannah’s Country Kitchen (who sponsored my tee-ball team in Kindergarten). They also sell deep-fried chicken strips and potato wedges at the Mom & Pop grocery store down by the caution light. That’s it. You can see how a trip to Subway suddenly seemed so gourmet. Whenever we went to “the big city” to go shopping, we’d always hit up Subway for lunch. It was a big deal. Definitely a special occasion meal.
I remember always wanting to get a meatball sub. Always. But then I’d see my friends order their turkey on wheat or veggie delite subs and think, “Oh. Meatball subs aren’t cool.”
Peer pressure is such a weird thing. Especially when it comes to food and eating. I’m not sure what made a dry, lackluster turkey on wheat sub more cool than a delicious, cheesy, gooey meatball sub, but in my 15-year-old brain, meatball=social suicide.
Needless to say, I never got the meatball sub.
Thankfully, with the wisdom of 29 years and 98 days under my belt, I can safely say I’ve stopped giving two monkey butts about what people think about my food choices. If it is wrong to want to eat a sandwich as delicious as a meatball sub, I don’t want to be right.
That being said, I am always looking for ways to healthify my not-so-healthy food favorites. So for my version of a meatball sub, I subbed in flavorful, high-protein, high-fiber chickpea balls. There is nothing wrong with high quality, responsibly-raised beef in my book, but by replacing the beef in your typical meatballs with chickpeas, I can save on calories, fat, cholesterol and up the vitamin and mineral antes. Win!
The combo of chickpeas, herbs and cheese bake up crunchy on the outside and soft and meaty on the inside. When mixed with sautéed green peppers and onions and slathered in your favorite marinara sauce, they make a perfect filling for a vegetarian “meat” ball sub. Yum! Enjoy!
- Cooking Spray
- 1-15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium green pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 4 whole wheat hoagie buns
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a small baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
- In the basin of a food processor, combine all chickpea ball ingredients. Pulse until chickpeas are mashed and mixture can be formed into balls.
- Divide mixture into 12 evenly-formed balls. Place on prepared baking sheet. Spray tops of balls with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the balls have a crunchy and browned shell.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in green pepper and onion slices and cook until soft and tender—about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add marinara sauce. Cook until sauce is just warmed through—about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- When chickpea balls are cooked, remove from oven and preheat broiler. Gently stir the chickpea balls into the prepared sauce.
- Place the bottom half of the four hoagie buns on a baking sheet. Spoon three chickpea balls onto each bun half. Divide the peppers, onions and remaining sauce evenly among the buns.
- Sprinkle each sandwich half with mozzarella cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted, browned and bubbly. Top subs with other half of hoagie bun.