Sometimes you want something a little different than a burger, just for a change. These sandwiches are delicious—oozing with cheese and tomato sauce, with a meaty interior and soft bun on the outside. I love to use Cobs Bread bap buns because they are so soft and pliable, but any soft Italian style bun will do. The best thing about these is that the meatballs are baked in the oven and can be made ahead, baked and then frozen as insurance against a busy week. If you are feeling fearless try some passata with basil in place of the pasta sauce (strained tomatoes in glass jars) or you can pick up any ready made pasta sauce that your family enjoys. For the kids, try making mini ones with tiny sized buns, like a meatball slider!
1 lb lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, grated
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
6 soft bap buns or other favorite buns
mozzarella cheese slices for each sandwich
Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, onion, pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Add the ground beef and mix well with your hands. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and very lightly grease it with oil. I like to use a pastry brush, but you can also drizzle a little over & then rub it with paper towel.
Shape the balls into smallish 3/4 to 1/2 inch sized balls and place on the baking sheet. You should get about 26 of them. Bake the meatballs for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through. To check, you can take one off the sheet and cut it in half to make sure there is no pink meat in the middle.
Split the buns in half and place them on a baking sheet. Turn the broiler on in the oven. Gently toast the bun until golden. Meanwhile, put the pasta sauce in a small pot and heat on low until it's bubbling and hot.
Once the buns are lightly toasted, take them out and place four meatballs per sandwich on a bun. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp of the warm pasta sauce. Then place mozzarella cheese on each. Place the sandwiches back until the broiler briefly to melt the cheese, watching carefully so that the buns don't burn.
When the cheese is soft and buns toasted, serve the sandwiches with extra sauce on the side if anyone wants some.
Makes six sandwiches