An unnamed high street food provider has a version of this on their menu. Meatball marinara: hot meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese stuffed into bread. Sounds messy and delicious yeah? Well, it is!
Here's a homemade version which was actually made from the leftover pasta and meatball dish I made the night before. Waste not want not! So you can use this exact recipe for a plate of pasta and meatballs if this doesn't take your fancy.
I've served this on a piece of thick sourdough which is robust enough to soak up the juices without falling apart, but any old bread will do if lightly toasted.
Ingredients - feeds 4
For the tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
400g tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano
A pinch of ground chilli
Salt and pepper
For the meatballs (to make 20-25)
500g good quality minced beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
A handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
The zest of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Fresh spinach (optional)
4 thick slices of bread, lightly toasted
Grated Cheddar cheese
1 - To make the tomato sauce, heat up the oil in a pan. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, cook for a further minute. Then add the tomatoes, Balsamic vinegar, oregano and chilli. Stir, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for half an hour with the lid slightly off.
2 - When cooked and reduced, taste for seasoning then using a hand blender, blend to your desired consistency. Keep aside.
3 - For the meatballs, put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and using your hands, combine thoroughly. Using damp hands, form meatballs the size of a golf ball and put aside onto a seperate plate.
4 - In a large non-stick pan, heat up the oil. Add the meatballs and cook on a medium heat all over, stirring regularly until golden brown.
5 - Pour in the tomato sauce, cover and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.
6 - Heat up your grill to a high setting. Cover a grill tray with foil and place on your toasted bread. Put a layer of optional spinach onto the bread then using tongs, place 4-5 meatballs onto each slice. Pour on the tomato sauce, top with a handful of Cheddar cheese and then grill until golden and bubbling.